Neil Spence: Primary Principal from Western Australia

EduTweetOz is moving back to Western Australia this week, with Neil Spence, a primary school principal in Perth taking over the account.


Neil’s school is East Victoria Park Primary School and he tweets from @neilcspence

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

Going way back to 1988, as an under graduate I was drawn to education due to my curiosity with coaching and playing a range of sports. I was a sports mad and still am today. Coaching in junior sports, especially in soccer and baseball drew me to become interested in teaching. Teaching in the primary years of schooling interested me most whilst I do wonder what secondary teaching would have been like. My other inspiration was my father who studied to become a TAFE lecturer when I was in my latter years of secondary education. His strong passion for teaching and curriculum design certainly rubbed off on me and his advice helped to steer me in the right direction.
After qualifying as a teacher in 1991, I taught full-time for two years at Katanning PS and then over the next 23 years I experienced various rural and metro promotional positions combined with teaching upper primary or Phys Ed. These very rewarding times leading to my current role of Principal of East Victoria Park PS where I have been since 2008. I have more recently taken on the role of Network Principal of the Curtin Education Community network of schools which involves coordinating 16 schools in the areas of professional learning, teaching & learning projects, marketing and partnerships.

Who or what keeps you inspired and motivated in your work?

As a School Principal I am motivated by enabling students, staff and the community to be happy and successful. Over time I have drawn my inspiration from a large collection of theoretical information and trends, dynamic schools in a similar context and colleagues both teaching staff and school leaders either locally or from afar. I tend to be a cautious trailblazer in some areas of school development and seeking opportunities that challenge my weaknesses to bolster my strengths. I strive constantly to model self improvement in education leadership by ensuring the school I lead is locally unique while having our doors open to relevant areas of contemporary education trends.
After 23 years in education and especially being a school leader for six years in the same school I have realised finally that it does take time to really achieve solid and long lasting change in education. That is, it takes time and persistence to build the positive and trusting culture. After which, the implementation of whole school approaches are implemented by the team with more moral and accountable purpose and commitment.
I have to say my involvement in using Twitter and the Edutweet PLN has certainly provided ideas and asserted the current direction that East Victoria Park PS.

What do you see as some of the biggest rewards and challenges for people working in education today?

Recently I have witnessed the rapid rejuvenation of teaching and learning opportunities due mainly to the evolution of digital education. The availability of tools allowing teachers and students to consume, collaborate and create is simply amazing to watch and worth every celebration. The message I am sharing with my staff is technology is allowing students to be less disengaged and more engaged. That is, through this new wave of digital education students are surging in ways we couldn’t have predicted even two years ago.
This Digital Education movement taking various forms brings professional rewards for those who may be already savvy and those who are tentative. For leaders, the move to a fully immersed Digital and Global classroom is requiring structures and conditions in both professional learning and collaboration that boost confidence and skills. Of course rewards bring challenges for staff and leaders however, in my opinion the onset of mobile devices, wireless classrooms, and more simple to use Web 2.0 / 3.0 tools are minimising the risk of stagnation or returning to pen and paper pedagogy.

If you had the ability to make changes to the education system in Australia, what would you do?

The most important change I make would be to remove political interference by all levels of government. This would include the introduction of mandated and legislated funding models for public education that would increase with the CPI.

I would restructure the education system to become world class by adopting characteristics of education systems that have been proven to be world class over the long term eg, Finland and Singapore. Core to this evolution to a world class education system would be to enable public and private schools to combine across many areas of professional learning, student learning and community partnerships.

What role do you see EduTweetOz playing on the education scene in Australia and what are your hopes for the account this week?

I see EduTweetOz becoming a main key stakeholder in education reform. That is, more and more universities, education departments, PL providers, Ed commercial partners will participate with EduTweetOz to retrieve and share information. Sharing innovative ideas and collegiality across a plethora of educational issues will develop as a the central purpose of the EduTweetOz PLN like other similar PLN’s.

My hopes for the week are to contribute to the development of the EduTweetOz PLN and assist as many followers to share and discuss contemporary everyday issues in schools. I look forward to getting know some of the 3300+ followers.


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