Thursday's educational leadership roadshow at the Armidale Bowling Club was a productive day for principals.
"It gave us food for thought in terms of honing our own leadership skills and supporting our staff with their leadership and responsibilities," Armidale Secondary College principal Carolyn Lasker said.
School heads - from Tamworth north to Inverell, and from Armidale and Glen Innes west to Moree and Mullaley - met NSW Department of Education secretary Mark Scott and his team at the Armidale Bowling Club.
It was "a wonderful opportunity" to speak with the leaders of the department, and for them to hear from principals, Armidale City Public School's Deborah Nay thought.
"They learnt first-hand the wonderful things and the things that may be of concern to us, so that the department is able to deal with those in a timely fashion."
This forum was one of 12 seminars the department is running across the state through May.
"The feeling in the room was one of gratitude they would take the time to get out to the regions," Ms Lasker said. "Traditionally, this has never really happened. Last year was the first roadshow they had initiated. We feel it's a really good thing to touch base with regional and remote schools."
The forum provided principals with resources to support their leadership. "Not just the management aspects of school, but leading yourself, your people, and your organisation," Ms Lasker said.
A panel of local principals - Marion Tame, Narrabri Public; Rodney Jones, Peel High; and Danny Spillane, Kentucky Public - talked about their own leadership journeys, their successes, and what they had learnt.
Mindfulness trainer and company director Gillian Coutts, of the Potential Project, talked about strategies for self-care for principals. Surveys point to a number of principals being in a state of stress, often from having to manage people.
The day ended with a Q&A session. Mr Scott and deputy secretaries Georgina Harrisson and Murat Dizdar wanted to learn how the department could better support principals.
"It was a good opportunity to hear from the room what are the pressing issues out there in schools, and have the bosses address those concerns," Ms Lasker said. "It was great feedback for them to get real-life stories from the coal face, and to take that into account when considering new policies and processes for the department."
Ms Nay appreciated the opportunity for principals to provide feedback directly to the secretary and deputy secretaries. She was interested to hear some of the changes being made within the department, and pre-warn her staff.
Ms Lasker found it encouraging to hear the information, bring it back to school, and look at initiatives they could put in place here. She has already started to revisit and hone her school's strategic plan with her executive team: "where we're at, where we want to go, how we're going to get there, and who's going to lead."
"It gives you some focus to come back, and really get stuck into those planning initiatives," Ms Lasker said.