The Power of Pipeline Leadership Program

by | Oct 23, 2019 | Bush Voices

The Power of CEP’s Pipeline Leadership Program


The Country Education Partnership’s (CEP) Pipeline Leadership Program has attracted broad praise from participants, as it heads toward its third year of a pilot partnership with Catholic Education Sandhurst (CES).

The Pipeline Program was created by CEP as a way to link the development of quality education leaders with a sustainable approach to leadership succession across rural and regional communities.

CES Program Convener, Julie Cobbledick, said the project had nurtured individual leadership capacity, as well as the team leadership of participating schools.

“When this all started we had just launched our diocesan leadership framework and we wanted a suite of opportunities that would meet a wide range of needs, with one of those being a particular emphasis on growing and expanding leadership in a rural and regional context … and this all fit perfecly within the CEP program,” Ms Cobbledick said.

“Our partnership with CEP, in the development of this program, has had a really strong focus on building a team within a school — with the principal leading the development with their team, not ahead of their team — and that was a real attraction for us to embrace the pipeline concept,” she said.

The Pipeline Leadership Program is directed by CEP through a team of professional learning facilitators.

The facilitators have extensive experience in the provision of education leadership initiatives specific to rural, remote and regional contexts.

For the current cohort of participants, it has increased collegiate connectivity across the Sandhurst Diocese, as well as helping to identify future leaders in various capacities.

 “Building leadership capacity is about supporting the current leadership of a school — supporting the current principalship — but also recognising the inevitability of change and the need to encourage individual aspirations,” Ms Cobbledick said.

“If we are not growing our middle leaders and our deputy principals, then we are doing everyone a disservice; good leadership requires foresight and preparation.

“I would expect that we would see one, two or a number of the participants being appointed to a deputy position or a principal position at some point in the future  … and we will know that this program has played a role in that.”

The CEP Pipeline Pilot Program has involved five school teams from the north east area of the Sandhurst Diocese.

They are: St Joseph’s Primary, Cobram; Sacred Heart Primary, Yarrawonga; Sacred Heart College, Yarrawonga; St Monica’s Primary, Wodonga; and Catholic College Wodonga.

“We still have a year to go but I would certainly recommend this pipeline initiative from CEP to other school settings because of its adaptability,” Ms Cobbledick said.

“One of the most rewarding things about this whole initiative is that it hasn’t been CEP saying, ‘this is the way it’s going to happen, this is the structure for you to fall in line’, it’s been a true partnership with a planning team of both CEP and CES staff working together to monitor, develop and reshape the program based on what the schools have told us about their mixed needs.”


For more information on CEP’s Pipeline Leadership Program and how you can participate, visit our website HERE

 Some Reflections from Participants


“The Pipeline Leadership program has been extremely worthwhile. The timing of the program for our school has been awesome, as it is a piece of the puzzle that has fitted together to allow our young leadership group to grow in capacity.”

“The benefit of sharing conversations with staff at different stages of their leadership journey, both primary and secondary, has been extremely valuable. This, combined with the involvement of high quality presenters, has been an excellent balance.”

“Looking forward, we are assessing at how we can further build the whole school’s leadership capacity by building our coaching capacity. We are also looking at how we can engage all our leadership team in such a program in the future.”

“The experience of the past eighteen has been extremely valuable for me – I am extremely grateful for being able to be part of this high-quality program, and being surrounded by other leaders at varying stages along their journey has been fantastic.”

“The presenters, conversation and forums have allowed me to develop direction, clarity and confidence as a young leader.”

“Having support from leaders outside our school has helped to step out of my comfort zone – I am improving through the difficult conversation I am involved in and the leadership or teams that I am now required to undertake. The program has helped me be accountable, has built my capacity, and has extended my support network.

“I have learnt that so much of leadership is about who you are, rather than what you say.  I have grown in confidence over the past 18 months. Previously, I have felt that I have something to offer as a leader, but have been frustrated because I haven’t felt terribly effective as a leader. Pipeline, along with the Coaching PD we did, has enabled me to understand that I do not have to have all the answers. Effective leadership is about enabling others to grow personally and professionally, rather than ‘doing’ for them and feeling as though I need to have all the answers.”

“Without the opportunity Pipeline has provided us with, our leadership team would not be in the place it is now. Having time to get to know each other, and develop their own leadership skills together, has been imperative to where our school is at. Our leadership team is a trusting place and that has helped us implement some serious changes to the teaching and learning within the school. Understanding each other’s strengths and challenges allows us to step up, step back, walk along side and support each other. Now it’s time for our next phase; sustaining the growth we have made, and building/championing others to step up and take the baton as well.”

“As our team had just formed when we commenced the Pipeline Leadership program, we hadn’t had the opportunity to build relationships and trust. Through our learnings about the importance of building relationships and supporting each other, we have worked hard to achieve this. We are a team of quite different personalities, so we don’t always agree, which we see as a good thing. We have learnt that, by challenging each other, our team continues to grow because we have to think more carefully to justify our opinions. In this way, we usually come up with the best possible ideas and solutions to move our staff forward. We have also learnt to own and embrace our errors, being up front and honest with staff. We seek their feedback and model vulnerability, in order to show our teachers and support staff that it is okay to have an idea, trial it and tweak it if necessary. We have seen a shift in mentality. Previously, challenging each other was seen as a negative, whereas as we now have a growing acceptance that to challenge is to problem solve. This has been a big shift in culture for us, which was the goal that we initially created in Beechworth last year. We still have a way to go, but we feel empowered by what we are seeing and hearing in our teams.”