A Conversation with...
Name: Dr Daniel Pampuch
Position: Chief Executive Officer, Christian Schools Australia
CSA: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions and sharing your thoughts on leadership with our members. How long have you been working with CSA?
Daniel: I have been working with CSA for approximately 5 years. I have also served on the National Council of CSA and served as State Chair for Victoria and Tasmania. I have also worked in three separate CSA member schools.
CSA: What work did you do prior to working with CSA?
Daniel: Prior to working with CSA, I was the Schools Commissioner for the Uniting church schools in Queensland. In that role, I oversaw 18 schools and university residential colleges. Prior to that role, I was the Executive Principal of CREST which operates Hillcrest and Rivercrest Christian Colleges and Early Learning Centres.
CSA: What do you see are the current major leadership issues in Christian education?
Daniel: The major issues in leadership are an ageing workforce and a lack of aspirants for senior leadership roles. This is both a pool and pipeline issue. As the Principal role has become more complex and regulated it has become less attractive to aspiring leaders who feel that the cost is too great, requiring a sacrifice of their personal life and their own wellbeing. The economic instability of the past decade, coupled with the pandemic has seen principals remain longer in their positions. It is not uncommon to see principals working into their 70s. Schools are inherently conservative institutions and as such encourage long tenure and minimal change. With this behaviour mirrored across education, the sector faces high retirement rates with a small pool of potential applicants to replace them.
"The best support I received in my own journey was from leaders who saw my potential and were willing to invest in me. They gave me real opportunities to lead, provided me with practical support and guidance, as well as, released me to do further study. I was also incredibly blessed to have a supportive family. My wife was willing to not only support my career advancement, but also willing to move interstate and overseas for the next step in my leadership journey."
CSA: What's one piece of advice you might give to emerging leaders in education?
Daniel: Crisis, change and “start-ups” provide the best learning ground and opportunities. In these circumstances you will be given real opportunities to lead. You might not get the title, pay, or release time you are hoping for, but you will get genuine experience and the opportunity to lead and learn - things that stable, settled schools might not be able to provide. So, be ready to step in and help. People will readily recognise your dedication and commitment and be willing to offer you further opportunities to grow and develop.
CSA: What is your favourite CSA Resource or Tool and why?
Daniel: There are so many good resources to mention. However, one I would highlight is the CSA School Improvement Tool (ASIT). This tool provides an excellent insight into what the core elements of a distinctively Christian school are and provides a framework for leaders to grow and improve the work of their school. For emerging leaders, the descriptors, theory, and biblical principles provide a robust framework to reflect on their own areas of understanding and potential areas for growth.
CSA provides a school improvement service to member schools interested in undertaking an audit of the health of their school.
School Improvement Service