ACT Branch News

Message from the Branch President, Kirk Zwangobani


I thought I would start this newsletter with a ‘call for papers!’ for the ACEL National Conference in Melbourne. The 2021 ACEL National Conference is happening from 29th September to 1st October this year in Melbourne. The Call for Papers is closing soon however, there is still time for ACT ACEL members to submit a proposal for one of the conferences concurrent sessions. The theme for this year’s conference is Leading excellence through equity. You can find out more about the subthemes and submit an abstract here.

The ACT is often underrepresented at the national conference as well as in our leading journal the Australian Educational Leader (or AEL). One of my goals then, for ACT ACEL Branch, is to give us more presence nationally. There are numerous initiatives and innovative practice happening in ACT schools; we need to share and showcase more of what we do well. For more details on either the national conference call for papers or publishing your school’s story in AEL you can reach out to Chris Newcombe in the national office with any questions, or alternatively make contact directly with me.


  • A last-minute reminder for those that have tickets, that the Breakfast with the Minister is on this Friday 11 June, at the National Portrait Gallery. Looking forward to seeing you there.
  • It is also my pleasure to announce that Professor Martin Westwell will be our speaker for the 2021 ACEL Currie Lecture (Wednesday 11 August). More information and registration will follow soon.

Martin Westwell

Martin is the Chief Executive of the SACE Board of South Australia. The curriculum and assessment authority whose stated purpose is to “Shape Education so that Students Thrive. The SACE Board serves students and educators in South Australia, the Northern Territory and schools in the SACE International program in China, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Pacific Islands.

Martin has worked extensively with education systems in using evidence to inform policy, practice, innovation and impact in education.

Martin has a number of other roles including Board member of Australian Council for Educational Leaders’ (ACEL), the Chair of the SA Department for Education’s Expert Advisory Panel, and member of the Clinical Advisory Council of the SA Commission for Excellence and Innovation in Health.

Building on his research career at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, Martin and his family moved to South Australia in 2007, where he took up an academic position at Flinders University.

Martin was a Chief Investigator in the national Science of Learning Research Centre, collaborating with classroom teachers to use principles from cognitive science in the development of pedagogical approaches and assessment practices. He was also one of only two recipients of a $1m education grant from the Australian Space Research Program, the precursor to the Australian Space Agency now based in Adelaide.

He has worked with UNESCO using evidence to inform strategic planning of education in the Asia-Pacific region and has been a member of the steering group of their research network.

In 2018, Martin received the prestigious Australian Council for Educational Leaders’ (ACEL) Gold Medal, awarded for the most outstanding contribution to the study and practice of educational administration and leadership.

Meet Your ACT ACEL Executive

In keeping with our ‘Meet Your ACT ACEL Executive’ series, this week I would like to introduce Sandra Darley. Sandra is Head of Campus at St Mary MacKillop College in Canberra. She has a Bachelor of Education and Masters in Educational Leadership and has taught in a number of schools in NSW and the ACT. She has also held the role of Senior Officer Secondary Curriculum and Pedagogy where she led the implementation of a Curriculum and Pedagogy strategy in NSW and ACT secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Canberra Goulburn. At the invitation of the Australian Catholic University co-taught in the online Master of Education programme in 2017 and 18.

"I am delighted to be able to contribute the June edition of the ACEL Newsletter. As a profession we cannot underestimate the power of collaboration in our work as teachers and leaders. The utilisation of evidence-based research in our networks, collaborations, and professional learning communities is a key lever for sustained school improvement. The opportunity to search out, debate and utilise research to build the professional capacity of practitioners and to build a shared language about curriculum design and pedagogical practice for teacher and leader efficacy is both contemporary and urgent.

In my school, all our teachers are members of Professional Learning Communities and these are integral to leading our school improvement agenda. Teachers and leaders are utilising research and data to build teacher capacity and a student-centred learning environment in which student agency, resilience and efficacy are manifested in students’ positive engagement in learning. Access to quality research plays a significant role in providing opportunities for our teachers to access information and data. Collaborating cross sectorally with other teachers and leaders in our own and other schools to attain professional capacity and agency is also integral to this. This is where ACEL and the access it gives us to quality research is complementary to our work and profession and I commend it to readers as well as this month’s edition of the Newsletter."

Sandra Darling
ACT ACEL Executive Member

Being a member of ACEL comes with several benefits. For two years (2018/19) I worked with the writing team of ACEL’s Resources in Action series to make contemporary research accessible and actionable for educational leaders and now, continue to do so as Chair of the AEL Editorial Committee. I can testify then, as Sandy reminds us, that ACEL and its “quality research is complementary to our work and profession”. So, make the most of your membership and inform your practice with these and other ACEL offerings, such as the Leaders Lounge – our members only portal for exclusive interviews with local and international global leaders, conference keynote presentations, and more.

Local & Online Events

10th - 24th Jun 2021

14th Jul - 11th Aug 2021

available for the ACEL National Conference 2021

National Events