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New principals (from left) Jayne Solomon, Tricia Howard, Catherine Connors and Sally Smith (Brisbane Catholic Education)

The principalship dream is now a reality for four Brisbane Catholic Education school leaders, thanks to a unique program that supports women into educational leadership.

Catherine Connors, Sally Smith, Tricia Howard, and Jayne Solomon started the school year in their first roles as principal at some of Brisbane’s most established schools after completing the BCE Women Breakthrough to Principalship program.

Unique to BCE and co-facilitated by the University of Queensland, the program encourages women to take up school principalship roles and addresses the need to increase the number of women in principalship positions across its 146 schools.

BCE executive director Sally Towns praised the program, which has resulted in 28 per cent of participants securing the role of principal within one year of completion.

“We’re committed to ensuring women and men are both equally represented in leadership across the organisation however within our ‘Diversity and Inclusion Strategy’ is a commitment to improving the number of women applying for and securing leadership roles across the organisation,” Dr Towns said.

“In turn, we are strengthened by a diverse workforce and inclusive practices that support and empower women to seek out and secure leadership roles.”

Ms Connors was awarded her first principalship in late 2022 after completing the BCE program in the same year. She is now principal at St Finbarr’s Primary School Ashgrove and said she “never would have dreamt I would be where I am now in such a short time frame.”

“One of the big personal turning points for me in the program was having the courage to say aloud, yes, I’d like to be a principal and yes, I think I do have some of the skills to inspire, engage, and take a school community forward,” she said.

BCE Organisational Capability Lead Tammy McCartney said the offered practical tools to help women take the next steps in their career and build confidence to lead schools.


Unique BCE program supports women into educational leadership (Brisbane Catholic Education)