History of the NSWSPC

The NSWSPC has a very proud history of working collaboratively with principals, schools, Departmental officers, other principals’ associations, teaching unions, parents and citizens associations, other professional associations, other public and private organisations and politicians at a local, regional, state and federal level for the significant benefit of NSW Public Education.

Formally established in 1977, it was the result of an amalgamation of eleven secondary principals’ councils that were already spread across NSW at that time. The formation of the NSWSPC finally brought together all NSW secondary principals into one state-wide fully-representative professional association.

The NSWSPC is dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of NSW public secondary school principals through advocacy, support, professional learning and collegial networks. It is through this role that it has been able to achieve significant improvements in learning outcomes for students in our NSW public schools.

We hope you enjoy reading about the NSWSPC and its significant achievements. Our intention is to gradually add to this list as we discover more and more information in the Council’s archives, and as our current and past principals find time to record their own stories, memories and reflections of their time in the NSWSPC.

If you have a story to tell about the history of the NSWSPC, please send it to principalfutures@nswspc.org.au

Facts and figures
A broad overview of the history of the NSWSPC
  • Origins of the NSWSPC 1954-1977 (Brian Ralph) – This detailed paper provides an overview of the development of multiple Principals’ Councils across NSW from 1954 onwards, prior to their agreement in 1976 to establish the NSWSPC as the over-arching body representing principals across the state.
  • The History of the NSWSPC (Col Cooksey) – The Council was established in 1977 after gaining approval from the Director-General Doug Swan. The information in this history is drawn from Council records including Executive Minutes, Occasional Papers presented to Council, Conference Reports of proceedings and other relevant Council and Department of Education documents.
Specific items of historical interest
  • Memorandum of understanding between the NSWSPC and the Director-General of School Education – This highly significant document signed in October 1996 provided for the first time in the Council’s history a formal written statement of the agreed role, structures, operation and proposed DoE funding of the Council
    • You can also see a copy of the original document here.
    • You can also read a briefing paper about the options that Director-General Ken Boston put to the NSWSPC when it was faced with the decision to either become independent of the Department or stay as an arm of the Department. It was this document that subsequently led to the signing of the MOU.
  • A History of the NSWSPC Preferred Futures Project 1995-2005 (Brian Ralph) – This detailed paper written in 2005 describes the development and implementation of one of the Council’s most influential and game-changing projects ever – the Preferred Futures Project (not to be confused with the ‘Principal Futures Project’). It also covers the Role of the Principal Project from 2003-2005.
  • The NSWSPC Futures Project 1995-2005 (Brian Ralph) – This is the detailed paper behind the PowerPoint presentation and talk given by Brian to the State Assembly in 2010.  You can listen to his talk in the audio file at the top of this list.
  • Preferred Futures for Public Secondary Education in NSW 1999 – This document, developed during 1998-99, represented for the first time the Council’s clear and unambiguous policy position on a whole range of aspects, issues and challenges facing the future of public secondary education in NSW at that time. With strong support from Director-General Ken Boston, it became the blueprint for educational change and innovation across the state for at least the next five years.
  • The Leadership of Secondary Education in NSW Public Schools 2004 – This document, released in August 2004, was a response to the increasing pressure being put on principals to be managers rather than educational leaders in their schools. It represented the culmination of the Role of the Principal Project (ROPP) which ran from 2003-2004.
  • A Restatement of Preferred Futures for Public Education in NSW 2005 – This document, released in November 2005, was a rewrite of the original 1999 Futures document (see above) as a result of so many things having been achieved already from the earlier document, in addition to the need to respond to the non-level playing field in which public schools now found themselves operating. It triggered the Council’s next major five-year project that started in 2006 called ‘Sustaining Quality Schools’.
Invitation to contribute

Do you have any specific or general information about the development of the SPC over the last 40+ years that you would like to share with us? Were you significantly involved in a major project or Council initiative that deserves to be written up for future generations of secondary principals to be aware of and appreciate? Do you have reflections or insights into one or more major events in the Council’s history?

If so, please email us direct with this info at principalfutures@nswspc.org.au