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26 Feb 2024

Victorian Aspiring Principal Assessment (VAPA) update

School leaders walking outside in discussion

The Victorian Aspiring Principal Assessment (VAPA) has existed since 2017. As a result of government policy, meeting the VAPA requirements became a mandatory requirement for all Victorian Principals appointed in Victorian government schools from January 1, 2022. The assessment is administered by the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership (the Academy).

The VAPA draws on evidence from candidates’ practice, an interview and on feedback from colleagues. If a candidate is found to have met minimum standards, they receive a Statement of Readiness (SoR). An SoR must be obtained prior to being appointed to a substantive principal role in a Victorian government school. An abridged version of the VAPA is available to individuals who have previously served in a principal role in a Victorian government school or in other school systems.

Recently, the Academy received its third evaluation report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the VAPA model.

Key insights:

The VAPA is successfully delivering positive outcomes, including:

  • the assessment model is appropriately rigorous considering the high-stakes nature of the VAPA
  • the assessment is largely seen as fit-for-purpose by candidates who have completed the assessment
  • the assessment provides candidates with significant feedback about their principal readiness, which many candidates report to be very valuable
  • candidates largely fall into one of two categories:
    • those who undertake the assessment only when a desired principal role becomes available
    • those who undertake the assessment earlier in their career to assist their development. This group report higher satisfaction levels with the VAPA due to the development approach they take to the assessment and outcomes.

Candidates who use the VAPA as a development tool believe it offers a rare opportunity to reflect on their practice, explore areas of strength and opportunities and to learn where to uniquely focus future development efforts.

Prior to the end of 2023, the 1,000th SoR was issued. This is a significant milestone that is supporting the workforce readiness for principal roles across the state.

The evaluation also noted that:

  • the consistency of the VAPA is improving, due to the significant efforts of the Academy and
  • the processing and assessment times are short and reducing.

The evaluation noted that greater understanding of VAPA across schools will attract a larger number of candidates, and engaging with stakeholders to promote further uptake is a key strategy for success going forward.

The Academy also want to support those in acting principal roles, or current assistant principals who are, at times, required to swiftly complete VAPA for appointment to a principal role. This cohort experience the VAPA as more bureaucratic than developmental, and the Academy is working to change this mindset to ensure the best experience and outcome for these candidates and for the system.

The Academy continues to work with the Department of Education regional staff to identify candidates and grow the pool of principal candidates. While the current number of candidates was considered adequate, a higher number is required to meet Department targets and ensure a large pool for all roles advertised across Victoria.

The VAPA is rigorous, consistent and efficient, with improvements underway to ensure continued success.

Find out more about this key tool for principal readiness here.

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