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Welcome to our first news for 2016.

  • President's message - Gonski, Asia education, safe schools
  • Have your say on the next election
  • New reading - parents with depression, help for senior students 
  • Business skills for 'Kidpreneurs'
  • Parent advice for Year 11 and 12 students
  • Amazing results from SA positive education model
  • Save the date! Walk Safely to School Day 2016

Please enjoy our January ACSSO News.


Read our President's message

A discussion that shows no immediate sign of reaching a conclusion, with the suggestion that yet another version of school resourcing will be on its way at a time that is still to be defined...


President's message

A New Year has only just begun and once more we have seen the subject of Gonski and the equitable funding of public education hitting the media streams. 

A discussion that shows no immediate sign of reaching a conclusion, with the suggestion that yet another version of school resourcing will be on its way at a time that is still to be defined.

In the face of such frustration I find that it’s often helpful to go back to the original source and explore the thinking behind what seems so familiar – just to be sure of my own understanding. In this instance I can highly recommend David Gonski’s collection of selected speeches presciently titled ‘I Gave a Gonski’. He discusses the recommendations of the report in layperson’s language, its context and the regret that a small part of the report that pondered the likely cost came to dominate the discussion.

This was over and above the other key recommendations that sought to create the necessary cross-sector student equity of opportunity regardless of parental income and background and to reposition the sector funding divisions between the federal and State/Territory governments.

David Gonski’s book also covers leadership, good governance, innovation and philanthropy - essential elements in every parent organisation - together with insights into his family history and professional activities. If you are part of a school’s parent governance body it’s a book that may be worth buying as a reference point for all. He also touches on Australia’s place in the world – one that includes strong partnerships with Asian nations.

Education about Asia

As a national body ACSSO wears many hats and one that is becoming increasingly relevant in creating inclusive communities is the Asian Education Foundation (AEF) of which ACSSO is a member of its Advisory Board.

The AEF offers a range of professional programmes for school leaders and teaching staff to integrate a global outlook and reciprocal understanding of Asian culture into everyday schooling. The AEF website has a range of information, opportunities and resources that can allow your school, its staff, students and parents to expand their understanding of our place in the world. One that is especially important in the current world climate that appears to be polarising around statements of intolerance and division. For more information:

Safe Schools Coalition

One of the key strengths of the Australian Government school system is its open and welcoming inclusivity for all students – no matter what their religious affiliations, cultural norms, gender associations or point of view may be. Our Australian character is said to be tolerant and welcoming with a sense of fair go for all. Part of maintaining this is encouraging our students to value our individual differences in a positive way to develop their own authentic sense of fair go.

The Safe Schools Coalition is one of the many initiatives that focus on student wellbeing. In this case to develop awareness and acceptance for those students that may associate with being be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). Such students often face extreme levels intolerance and bullying from others.

The initiative is fully funded by the Commonwealth and has deeper implications when considered in the broader concept of acceptance, welcome and safety for all as an indisputable part of our authentic Australian values. For more information please visit the Safe Schools Coalition website:

Your education vote matters

With an election on its way can I ask you to consider your family’s education priorities and whilst they are fresh in your mind please go to and send them in to us on the ‘Have a say’ link. ACSSO can then compile them for the various parties’ response.

Wishing you all the very best for the start of the new school year and all the inevitable covering of books that comes with it.

Phillip Spratt


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My top three education issues for Australia are...


Help us to help you!

Head over to and share your top three education issues so we can present the widest possible views to each major party ahead of the next election and share their responses with you.


Got a book to share with ACSSO's national parent and educator audience? Let us know on

Explaining a parent's depression

Hi. My name is Nina Mitchell. I am the mother of three boys, a qualified primary school teacher and now a first-time author. I have also suffered from depression for several years.

While being treated for depression, author Nina Mitchell found it challenging to explain to her sons the highs and lows of this illness and what it meant to them. After speaking to other parents with depression, Nina believes most adults have difficulty explaining what depression is to their children.

Her answer was to write and self-publish a picture book, My Mum Has Depression. It explains depression in simple words and pictures suitable for children of all ages. The book aims to help adults start a conversation with children.

"The more people recognise what depression is, the more they will hopefully try to understand the condition," Nina says.

"Explaining it to our offspring is a good start."

My Mum's Got Depression is available for $15 from


Can entrepreneurial skills be taught?

Creel Price with a Kidpreneur

Club Kidpreneur is a not-for-profit organisation that helps educators, parents and children to engage in teaching and learning business skills.

Workshops were run in NSW and Queensland in January, and there is advice for principals, teachers and parents on the Club Kidpreneur website, where you can also check curriculum outcomes and purchase business skills learning packages.

Chairman Creel Price (pictured) was a kidpreneur himself and launched his first eight businesses before leaving school.  With calls every year for Australians to show more entrepreneurial spirit, would your school to look at a service like Club Kidpreneur?

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Helping you to help senior students

When you have a student completing the senior years of school, everyone in the family is doing Year 11 or 12. Here are a few ideas for coming through these years flourishing, and having everyone’s dignity intact.

Parents have a vital role in helping students: Manage time
Manage energy
Manage stress

Manage to get everything in at the right time and in the right place.

In addition to this you have to manage yourself. 

Psychologist Andrew Fuller has released a new tip sheet to help teachers and parents better support Year 11 and 12 students.   The practical advice includes how to develop and maintain study systems, including getting back on track when the system breaks down, and  how to manage catastrophic thinking.

The information is ideal for school and parent newsletters and websites.

Get in touch with us via email ( or Facebook to ask for a copy of the two page PDF, which is just one of many free resources available for parents, students and teachers on

Tayla - positive education

Amazing results from 'positive education' model

A Positive Education program has led to a 7% improvement in the wellbeing of Mount Barker High School’s students in 18 months, reports the latest case study from the Australian Learning Lecture.

The program is embedded into Mt Barker’s curriculum at the same level as literacy and numeracy, explains Principal Warren Symonds.

“My role as a principal is to look at the whole student. We want to make certain that our students are not only achieving academically, but their mental health is taken care of,” said Mr Symonds.

Positive Education programs aim to equip students with positive skills to deal with adult life. This includes identifying and building character strengths, building positive emotions and developing resilience.

Mt Barker uses the Middle Years Development Instrument to collect student wellbeing information including social and emotional wellbeing, physical health and feeling supported by family, school and community.

“We’ve already used the data to identify and respond to wellbeing issues. When many students reported a gap in connectedness with a significant adult the school implemented ways to increase student voice, leadership and ownership within the school,” said Mr Symonds.

Positive Education is also incorporated into Mt Barker’s teaching programs, which has led to:

  • adoption of an ‘optimism’ theme across the Art and English units
  • a shift toward more general fitness in Year 8 physical education to target an identified drop-off in Year 9

Watch the case study video now on Youtube


Five positive education tips for home:

  1. Ask your child to write down three good things that happen in a day and reflect on why they happened
  2. Encourage your child to tell someone how much they appreciate them
  3. Discuss what they would like to be remembered for in the future (by their children, grandchildren)
  4. Help them set aside time each week to do something they find deeply rewarding (e.g. fishing, playing sport, painting, cooking)
  5. Remind them – mistakes are research not failure (use positive self-talk: “I can’t do it…yet!”).

Additional tools:

Positive Education – using data to bring joy - the Australian Learning Lecture’s latest case study

Strength based approaches to parenting in late adolescence – interview with Professor Lea Waters about using Positive Psychology principles to survive adolescence and VCE

SenseAbility - Beyond Blue’s program to enhance and maintain emotional and psychological resilience.


Save the date! Friday 20 May 2016

Go to

and look for more information in the February ACSSO newsletter