• Duration
    9-12 months
  • Location
    North Melbourne
  • Mode
    Face to face Online
  • Fees
    Fully Subsidised

Realise your potential to lead a school for learning improvement and transformation.

Unlocking Potential: Principal Preparation (UP) is a unique opportunity to develop your professional knowledge, capabilities and confidence to lead for learning in ways that significantly impact on students and outcomes, collective efficacy, and schoolwide improvement.

Current research and theory will be integrated with practice, so that you take away a rich repertoire of practical processes, strategies, protocols, and tools for use in your current and future leadership work.


Designed for aspiring principals in Victorian government schools who are working towards their first principal appointment, or likely to move into a substantive principal role within the next 2 years.

You must have a minimum of 5 years' teaching experience in one or more schools.

This program is recommended for current assistant principals (acting or substantive) with 5 or more years of experience in a formal leadership role..


UP is designed by teachers and internationally acclaimed educational leaders Joan Dalton and David Anderson.

Joan and David have worked extensively with schools and educational agencies for learning improvement and transformation across Australia and in more than a dozen other countries.

They lead a team of facilitators who bring outstanding principal experience and accomplishments to their work in the UP program.

UP and the Victorian Aspiring Principal Assessment (VAPA)

UP aims to prepare you for the principal role. The skills knowledge and understanding that you gain from this course will support you in developing your portfolio, should you decide to undertake the VAPA.

The VAPA is a developmental assessment which enables aspiring principals to:

  • evaluate their readiness for the principal role
  • identify their targeted professional development needs
  • create an evidence base for professional recognition of performance.

The VAPA Statement of Readiness is a requirement to be appointed into a substantive principal role.

For more information, visit the Victorian Aspiring Principal Assessment Overview webpage.

Over 9 to 12 months, you will actively engage in and contribute to:

  •  workshops (10 days)
  •  an internship (20 days)
  •  peer learning groups (4.5 hours)
  •  self-directed learning (a minimum of 8 hours)
  •  learning improvement inquiry


Core workshops comprise 4 modules, each delivered over 2 full-day online workshops:   

  • Module A: Leadership for learning: building culture 
  • Module B: Leading the learning of others
  • Module C: Leading school learning improvement
  • Module D: Future trends and leadership agility

Collaboration with your colleagues will be central in these interactive workshops and will focus on purposeful and authentic learning relevant to your school context and learning needs.

You will also participate in a separate 2-day workshop designed to build your capacity to have conversations to manage complex problems. Dates will be confirmed and finalised once you commence the program.


The internship is up to a 20-day placement in another school, working alongside an experienced mentor principal. You will work on the practical aspects of the principal role and test new techniques and approaches learnt through UP.

Prior to starting your internship, you will attend an induction workshop where you will work with your mentor principal and home school principal.

Peer learning groups

Peer learning groups (PLGs) provide a structured opportunity to share your progress with colleagues, raise issues, challenges and questions in a confidential setting, and be supported and challenged in ways that promote reflection and learning growth.

PLGs comprise up to 7 participants from similar school contexts (for example, small regional schools)

Self-directed learning 

Self-directed learning activities completed in your own time (a minimum of 8 hours) are designed to prepare you for the workshops and include using the UP leadership capability tool and reflection in a personal learning journal.

Learning improvement inquiry

The learning improvement inquiry will enable you to actively work on these capabilities in the service of directly improving student learning outcomes by undertaking an authentic and relevant inquiry in your school.

In your inquiry, you will have opportunity to ‘think like a principal’ by starting with the end in mind – your students and their learning. From there, the causal chain moves backwards to teacher practice to implications for your ‘principal’ leadership.

Leading Quality Conversations

Leading Quality Conversations is a program designed to develop the high-level communication skillset required by school leaders that will enhance their interpersonal effectiveness, collaboration and problem solving capabilities. This program consists of 2 workshops and 2 small group coaching sessions.

Attendance requirements

To successfully complete this program, you will need to participate in all aspects of the program, including the internship and the Leading Quality Conversations program.

UP is designed to equip you with practical learning processes, strategies, protocols and tools to lead:

  • self for learning
  • others for learning
  • the school for learning.

You’ll gain knowledge and understanding to effectively lead:

  • schoolwide improvement in student learning outcomes
  • excellence and improvement in teacher learning and practice
  • collective efficacy for schoolwide and system improvement.

You’ll develop the skills to:

  • model self-leadership, agility, and congruence in how you lead for learning
  • enhance your own moral purpose and professional identity
  • use current best-practice learning principles to develop others’ capabilities
  • collectively build a learning culture of trust within your school community
  • build strong collaboration and teamwork amongst colleagues and community
  • engage in effective professional conversations with colleagues, staff and parents
  • develop a compelling strategic vision for your school
  • lead schoolwide approaches to learning, teaching, pedagogy development and strategic school improvement
  • build community partnerships and networks.

Fully subsidised by the Department of Education for Victorian government school participants.

Government school participants can claim CRT funding for up to 20 days across the program.

Travel and accommodation subsidies are available for eligible schools.

See Fees and financial support for more information. 

To participate in UP, you must have the full support and approval of your principal and commit to the significant time and effort required.

Find out more about the application process

Last updated 08 February 2024