Leadership, trust and handball – the role of an Assistant Principal

By Samantha Rich, 24 May 2024
Louise Kingsley, Assistant Principal of Holy Family Primary Granville plays handball with a student. Image: Gene Ramirez/Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese


When it comes to leadership roles in schools, it can often be difficult for those outside education to understand what goes on behind the job title. What is the difference between a Principal and Assistant Principal? Louise Kingsley, Assistant Principal of Holy Family Primary Granville with 25 years of experience in education, gives us a glimpse into her role at the school.

“If I had to sum up my job in one sentence, it would be to be the bridge between the principal and the staff. I listen to both sides and see things from all the different perspectives,” said Louise.

In terms of the day-to-day, being an assistant principal involves leading pedagogy (methods of teaching); supporting staff in developing goals for their students and themselves; building the Catholic culture of the school by working with the Religious Education Coordinator; and demonstrating to staff how to challenge and be reflective of their teaching efforts.

She said her motivation for becoming an assistant principal was the impact she could have on other teachers.

“Cultivating leadership among all teachers is so important. Every teacher needs to see themself as a leader of what they’re doing in order to make a real difference to student outcomes,” said Louise.

Louise believes that developing in teachers a sense of autonomy and power over their work leads to better quality teaching and improved student experiences. One of the ways Louise achieves this is through modelling true collaboration.

Louise Kingsley (right), Assistant Principal of Holy Family Primary Granville with Josie Lianos, STEM Coordinator. Image: Gene Ramirez/Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese

“Collaboration is a word that gets thrown around alot, but it’s so important to me that I show what it really is. For example, I might plan what we want to get out of a professional development day, but then I bring it to the staff and we will collaborate – we all work together sharing insights and knowledge,“ Louise said.

It was working with a particular assistant principal early in her career that inspired Louise’s own leadership style, based on empathy and building trust.

“Megan Owens, who was my AP at Sacred Heart Primary Westmead, taught me how to listen without judgement, how to address challenges that I may face and how to be reflective when things don’t go according to plan – to always ask myself first, what could I do differently next time?” said Louise.

Louise knows that in creating a culture of trust and respect within the school, teachers are more likely to accept advice and guidance from her and from each other. This focus on positive relationships flows through to her interactions with students and their families.

One initiative she feels is having a particularly strong impact is the ‘community link catchup’ that she and the principal hold each term. It is an opportunity for parents and carers to learn about what’s happening at the school and ask questions.

Louise Kingsley, Assistant Principal of Holy Family Primary Granville with students. Image: Gene Ramirez/Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese

It is on the playground however where Louise has certainly gained the respect of students! Visitors to Holy Family will often spy Mrs Kingsley in the playground showing off her handball skills, something the students love about her.

“I’ll never forget the first time I walked through the playground in a dress and heels and I joined in a handball game. The kids thought I was mad – until they saw me play!” Louise said.

A mother of two boys, Louise credits her 13-year-old son for helping her develop those impressive handball skills and says spending time with her family is the most important thing she does outside of work.

“Valuing family time makes me really appreciate every family that walks through our school gates. I know how important family is,” said Louise.

It seems that a passion for education might just run in the family. Louise’s eldest son is in  Year 11 at Parramatta Marist High and his goal is to become a high school teacher. When you hear Louise talk about learning, it’s not hard to see where his inspiration must have come from.

“These children are our future leaders and they need to understand that learning isn’t something we do because we’re told to do it. Learning is a part of who we are and I am 100% committed to showing the children and the staff, that I today, am still learning.”

With thanks to Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese.


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