AEL Volume 39 Issue 2 June 2017
AEL June 2017; 39 (2):
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From the President

Stephen Gniel, MBA, BEd FACEL

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In the last issue of the Australian Educational Leader, I focussed on ACEL’s advocacy for the education profession and the opportunity our organisational strength affords us to advocate with confidence with and on behalf of our members. Over the last number of years I have been interested in how other professions, in particular the professionals within that profession, have self organised in professional groups, societies and institutes to lead their own profession. Essentially this is consistent with ACEL’s own history that I referred to in my first AEL article this year. I have been particularly interested in associations that are profession led, self sustaining and are respected by others both within and outside the profession and what we, ACEL, can learn from these as we continue to grow and represent more and more of our professional educators.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I found significant similarities to our ACEL purpose and strategic intent when looking at other professional associations. For example the Chartered Accountants “Vision is to empower our members to become leaders and shapers of finance and business in Australia New Zealand and wherever they may work around the world” and “Maintaining pre-eminence, relevance and extending our influence are core to our organisational strategy”. What about the lawyers? “The Law Council of Australia exists to represent the legal profession at the national level, to speak on behalf of its Constituent Bodies on national issues, and to promote the administration of justice, access to justice and general improvement of the law”. Doctors? “The AMA (Australian Medical Association) exists to promote and protect the professional interests of doctors and the health care needs of patients and communities”. Like ACEL, these professional associations focus on support for their members as well as seeking to positively influence their areas of expertise.

As well as my membership of ACEL, I am also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors as my role of President of ACEL has me chairing our organisation’s Board. Many professional, including education professionals, are members of a number of associations and like me are interested in continued self-improvement and learning from and with others. For example friends that I taught with as well as being members of ACEL are also members of curriculum specific associations such as the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association or the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers. So it was through this AICD membership that I researched more about this institute, particularly its vision and strategic approach. “The Australian Institute of Company Directors is committed to excellence in governance. We make a positive impact on society and the economy through governance education, director development and advocacy”. It was this last word of advocacy that I was most interested in, particularly the ‘how and what’.

To form a basis for advocacy, the AICD surveys its membership twice a year and publishes its ‘Director Sentiment Index’ and states that the Index is a “key indicator of issues that are important to our members and the wider community” and as “a driver for discussions on the economy, policy reform and corporate governance and is one way we consult and engage with members on advocacy issues”. The key question I was left with was what would this look like for ACEL?

Often organisations survey members about services and levels of satisfaction with these, however, the AICD survey is for the express purpose of seeking the views of its members on the issues that impact on their work. This captures simply the type of information we will be seeking from our members to best inform and succeed in delivering on the ‘advocacy’ element of ACEL’s purpose. ACEL are best place to ask the important education questions of our members and lead the discourse on how we can work together to improve education in Australia.

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