About pooroldhenry

I was a long term Northern Territory (NT) Educator, commencing my teaching career in WA in 1970. We came to the NT in July 1975 and worked in remote, town then urban communities. My tenure in the NT was at Numbulwar School (1975- 1978), Angurugu Community School on Groote Eylandt (1979-1982), Nhulunbuy Primary School (1983-1986), then Karama School (1987-1991) and lastly Leanyer School (1992 until retiring in January 2012). I filled the position of school principal from 1977 until my retirement. My career started at Warburton Ranges in WA as a teacher in 1970 then as headmaster in 1974. My major focus on and belief in education is that it develop children and students holistically, preparing them for the whole of life. Educational partnerships involving staff, students, community and department have always been important. I am a Fellow and Lifetime Member of the Council of Education Leaders, a Life Member of the Association of School Education Leaders (recently rebranded as the Northern Territory Principals Association) and was awarded the Commonwealth Centenary Medal for contribution to education. A member of Toastmasters International I am an Advanced Toastmaster Gold (ATMG). I hold a number of degrees and remain actively interested in and contributive to education. A highlight of my 'recent' life (from 2011 until 2016) was contributing to Teacher Education at Charles Darwin University. This has involved marking, tutoring and lecturing in a part time capacity. I was also involved with our Department of Education (NT) as a member of the Principals Reference Group (2012 until 2016) and have worked with others on the establishment of a Principals Coaching and Mentoring program. From 2014, I was the Education Minister's Nominee on the NT Board of Studies until its reconstitution in July 2016. Prior to retirement from full time work I represented the Education Department on the Board (2009 - 2011). I was working in support of students enrolled with the School of Education at CDU from 2012 until 2017. I enjoyed the chance to give back to the profession which over many years has done much for me. From July 2013 until the end of June 2019, I wrote a weekly column about educational matters for the Darwin/Palmerston /Litchfield 'Suns' Newspapers and then the rebranded 'Suns Newspaper' with Territory-wide circulation. This newspaper ceased publication in June 2019. I occasionally write for other papers and am a contributor to professional magazines and online discussion about educational matters. Included were regular contributions to the Australian Council of Education's 'e-Teaching' and 'e-Leading' publications, which ceased as communications organs in December 2017. I hold retired member's status with the Australian Education Union (NT), contributing occasionally to union publications. I am presently working on developing a series of vignettes, aimed at providing information that pre-service and beginning teachers may find useful. They are oriented toward assisting with an understanding of practices that may assist meet professional and teaching needs. To date, 89 of these have been completed. I contribute to general conversations and various groups on ‘Linked In’ and am also a contributor to ‘The Conversation’. I have a blog site at henrygrayblog.wordpress.com and invite you to access it at any time should you so wish. Henry Gray February 28 2020


The cycle of the educational year is about to start once again. Within days, we will be into the first quarter of the 2023 school year.

As a retired educator I still remember the anticipation with which I looked forward to the opening stanza each time a new school year commenced. There was anticipation and a hope to be able to build on the previous year.,

One almost hoped that the lessons of the previous year resulting in success and leading to challenges not yet mastered, would stand in good stead in going forward.

As we stand on the threshold of a new school year, I’d like to wish everyone connected with Education all the very best for 40 weeks of academic fulfilment and developmental success.


This is a significant story absolutely confirming a belief I have held for the best part of two decades about the leadership ability of women. My perceptions of women as leaders include the

  1. Women are all seeing, all knowing and able to join in fifteen conversations at once.
  2. Women are aware: They have 360 degree vision.
  3. Women have clear goal orientation and crystal-like focus.
  4. Women cut to the chase and don’t dither around the edges of issues.
  5. Women are careful synthesisers and succinct summarisers of situations.
  6. Women are adept at timetabling and planning; they are meticulous plan followers.
  7. Women have awareness.
  8. Women show empathy to those who are under the pump.
  9. Women excel in engaging others in planning and organisation.
  10. Women have excellent leadership and participative perspective. They are both on the organisational balcony with all-encompassing vision and on the dance floor with and among those engaged with endeavour.
  11. Women make an extraordinary contribution in going forward.
  12. Women contribute proactively to staff endeavour and leadership balance within organisations and systems.

Thank you for the great job you do and the powerful contribution you all make.


Listening is the most important skill. It’s the most important area of literacy and one sadly overlooked. Reading, writing, and speaking seem to be regarded as the three standout elements when it comes to literacy learning. We fail so often to learn because we don’t listen.

For me, listening is the number one literacy skill because it is the first of the four elements introduced to people after they are born. The rest follow. Listening is a skill neglected at our peril.


Learning from one’s mistakes is very important

It’s not wrong or unforgivable to make mistakes which are genuine errors of judgement or based on miscalculation. It is however foolish not to learn from mistakes made, ensuring there’s no repeat. Leaders also need to allow for the mistakes that might be made by subordinates and those within the organisation. Rather than coming down hard and acting like a tonne of bricks, supporting staff members and pointing out a better and different way of carrying out tasks will be useful.That will also help staff appreciate you and grow the respect they feel for you as a leader. But be where you don’t dismiss what they’ve done that might be Rather, with empathy support the person and make them feel valued.


Education’s worth

The curriculum has been diminished and diluted over time, to become meaningless in many respects. Mind you, it has been great for researchers and ‘theorists’ who like trying new angles and new approaches. To them, students are not people but Guinea pigs on whom to experiment. Basic and key learning has gone down the gurgler and mediocrity has become the cornerstone of Australian education.

The burden of non-teaching tasks being lumped onto schools and teachers is not new. However, in recent times, they have been magnified, almost marginalising many teachers from their students.

My Hope

Each of us every day, week, month and year face challenges. Sometimes those challenges seem to be like insurmountable barriers. They can be quite overwhelming and can really create a situation where we flag, become despondent, and at times just give up. I hope this year is one where each of us has both the courage and the mettle to confront challenges, master them and turn them into celebrations.

I also hope that we have the courage to say “no“ to things we might do that we know to be wrong. I hope that we are going to be there for each other and that we will put a great deal of stock on the importance of togetherness and being a group, society, rather than individuals with shortsighted and selfish concerns


To all readers

I hope you had a terrific Christmas Day and that 2023 is a year that will bring you all great happiness and satisfaction.

Can I make a suggestion? We often think of all the negatives and challenges we have during the days, weeks and months of a year. How about thinking of eight or ten good things that have happened during the year. We are all unique and different from each other and we each have skills and capacities unique to us as individuals. So what will you remember as positive outcomes during 2022.

Too often we see our worst or think our worst. We need to think about our best and balance what we think we should be with the people we are.

The best


I am disappointed by what seems to be happening time after time after time, for years and years and years, at Wadeye. My wish and hope for the community is shared below. It is also a wish I hold dear for other remote communities in the NT and indeed elsewhere around Australia.

May Wadeye get good.

May peace and harmony be restored.

May children go to school (each child every day).

May substance abuse cease to be an issue.

May all suppliers of illicit drugs and illegal alcohol be apprehended, with their behaviour attracting the full force of the law.

May all weapons including knives be handed in during an amnesty period on surrender of these objects.

May alcohol in all its forms be forever dismissed from the community and may there be a resolve that people will become teetotallers.

May the community become a jewel in the crown of community management and good will.

May rancorous conduct be no more and may thoughtfulness of all residents toward each other prevail.

May there be a cessation of domestic violence.

May the community become a model of everything that is good, decent, harmonious and upright.

May children come to respect parents and elders.

May parents nurture their children and lead them in the way they should go through the example they set.

May elders imbue children and young people with heartfelt desire to forsake all that is wrong and to walk a better way.

May Wadeye become a transformed community and a desirable, attractive place.

NB: I worked in remote community situations in. WA (1970, 1974 to April 1975) and in the NT from July 1975 until December 1982.


Dear Readers

I hope you and your family have a great Christmas and a terrifically fulfilling 2023. I have found this year to be one of many parts. If 2022 was a jigsaw puzzle, it has been one containing a good few unrelated and rogue pieces.

Vladimir Putin goes beyond being rogue. This is the 301st day of the current war against Ukraine that he ‘commenced’ on February 24 this year. I admire the Ukrainian spirit but it is awful the country has been decimated, with so many people killed and the population decimated. Putin forecast his troops would be in Kiev within 14 hours of the war being declared, so his timeline is a bit skewed.

I like looking in on education from afar, because the panoramic view offers perspective not available to those who are in the mix at the chalk face. The need to be reactive, supplicating responses to commands on high, can be uncoupling. Good intentions and systemic planning do not always lead to positive action outcomes.

Even for old ones like me, there always seem to be regular elements of Territory and Australian Government surprise diving into contention and more than often, from left field. What annoys is the trotting forward of new ideas which are regurgitated old ideas that have been previously discarded because of inappropriateness. It is important to never learn from the past.

I keep on blogging and posting on LinkedIn along with writing occasional letters to the papers. “The Conversation” also offers some interesting papers to read.

All the best as we march inexorably toward the future, never quite knowing what tomorrow will bring.