• Duration
    6-9 months
  • Location
  • Mode
  • Fees
    DET Fully Subsidised

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

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

As part of the UP program, you can expect to actively participate in workshops designed to create deep learning and capability development, with a focus on purposeful and authentic learning relevant to your school context and learning needs.

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.


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)

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 determines whether you are ready to be appointed to a principal role, and what professional development you require.

UP aims to prepare you for the principal role, and also provides you with support should you decide to undertake the VAPA. For more information, visit the Victorian Aspiring Principal Assessment Overview webpage. 

Over 6-9 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 12 hours).


Core workshops are delivered online over four 2-day sessions, and include:   

  • Leadership for learning: establishing key foundations 
  • Leading the learning of others: developing schoolwide approaches
  • Driving school learning improvement: building collective efficacy
  • Leadership and adaptive agility: uncertainty, innovation and futures

Collaboration with your colleagues will be central to the learning in these interactive workshops.

Leading by Learning 

You will participate in a 2-day Leading by Learning workshop developed by Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson in conjunction with Evaluation Associates. 

Leading by Learning will increase your knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of applying a learning focus to challenges and opportunities, as opposed to a control focus.

This workshop focuses on developing your ethical instructional leadership and enabling you to make significant progress on problems of practice that prevent the achievement of improvement goals.

Note: Leading by Learning dates will be confirmed and finalised once you commence UP. 


The internship is 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 activities in your own time (approximately 12 hours) are designed to support your learning progress and include:

  • pre-workshop tasks
  • contributing to discussion boards
  • ongoing use of the UP Leadership Capability Tool 
  • ongoing use of a learning journal
  • gathering evidence (such as assessment tools, feedback and artefacts) during workshops, PLGs and your internship, to develop your digital learning portfolio
  • undertaking a school-based learning improvement inquiry.

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

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

You’ll gain knowledge and understandings 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 and Training for Victorian government school participants.

Government school participants can claim CRT funding for up to 10 workshop days and 20 internship placement days.

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 05 May 2022