Heathdale flower 08th March 2024

Mastering Her Craft

Mrs Yvonne Harvey, our enthusiastic Principal of Primary at our Werribee campus, shares insights into her educational experiences, relentless pursuit of learning and passion for student success.

Heathdale flower

Yvonne Harvey is our Principal of Primary at our Werribee campus and a wonderful, Godly leader. If you’ve not met her, you’ve probably felt the effects of her enthusiasm and joy rub off on our staff and students. Having made her way to Heathdale via the State school system, first as a parent, then as the Principal of our Melton campus, Yvonne has a wealth of educational experience under her belt (or fabulous scarf?). Yvonne is a bubbly Brit who has serious roots in Mathematics and brings a love for data and analytics to her role.

Yvonne never stops learning. She earned her bachelor’s degree back in the UK, where she received the Dean’s Award for being in the Top 5% of her class. A few years ago, she studied her post-graduate degree in Student Welfare at the University of Melbourne, discovering more about caring for students to set them up for learning success.

In 2022, just after taking up her position as the Principal of Primary, Yvonne decided to invest in her education again, studying her Masters in Evidence-based Teaching at the University of Melbourne. Her reason was quite simple, having spent much of her time in the classroom as a Secondary teacher, she really wanted to check she was leading the Primary school in the right direction. Yvonne was also interested in the research component of the degree, because if you do well in that you can go on to do your PhD, further investing in her learning. Well, the university has been on the phone a lot because Yvonne once again received a Dean’s Award for her results. However, this time it was for being in the top 3% of her class, a tremendous achievement.

A key part of Yvonne’s Masters was a major thesis on ‘Investigating the value of standardised testing in maths and reading literacy for learning growth’. While the title may not roll off the tongue, Yvonne pointed out an interesting correlation for International Women’s Day, “Standardised testing came out of World War II, when men were in such short supply. They had to test people to find the cream and shuffle them into the jobs that had been vacated by men killed in action. While such a tragic context, it’s actually quite relevant for International Women’s Day in one way. There was this growth of women in education because men weren’t there to do the jobs anymore. Suddenly men and women were being considered equal in academia and standardised testing had been a massive push towards that. It’s now grown into something else, but its origins were about identifying talent regardless of gender, which is fascinating.”

Yvonne said the best thing about her study was being able to put into practise what she learned around topics like ‘neurodiversity in students’, ‘learning from data and evidence in the classroom’, and ‘what does it mean for the student to be the learner?’. The application of her learning has included working with our ICT team to develop new tools for teachers and leaders to track the growth of each student to ensure they’re making progress throughout the year.

Yvonne encourages more women to study even if it seems impossible to squeeze in. “Working full-time and doing your Masters is possible if you leverage your time and are organised,” she said. “I had consistent study periods when my son was in music all day Saturdays and on a Monday night. I never gave those times up. I also asked for help. At university, there’s a lot of people with a lot of big words, and you can feel like a bit of an imposter sometimes. You have to hold a certain amount of humility to say, ‘I don’t know how to do that.’ But you can do it if you just press on. I learned new programs, new systems, a lot of things to make my time more efficient and spent a lot of time talking to lecturers and librarians. The research base is so huge, we stand on the shoulders of giants, so developing my research techniques was pivotal for putting the most into and getting the most of my Masters.”

We celebrate Yvonne and all our amazing women leaders and staff at Heathdale. We are honoured to have such a fun, humble and Godly woman lead our Primary school at Werribee and continue to pray that God will guide every step of her way.