CEO Research Roundup

Neil McDonald, QELi CEO to lead Certified Practising Principal Board

QELi CEO, Neil McDonald, has been appointed independent Chair of the Certified Practising Principal (CPP) Board, effectively immediately.

The Board implements and oversees the CPP – the only national recognition of principal excellence in Australia – which is managed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Mr McDonald has more than 25 years of experience in educational leadership roles, as a teacher, a principal and Assistant Regional Director with the Queensland Department of Education, where he led its Teaching and School Leadership program. Mr McDonald said he is a firm believer in the important role school principals play in Australian

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to elevate the profession of school principals through CPP principal certification,” Mr McDonald said. “The CPP offers education systems and the community the confidence that school leaders and principals are able to demonstrate the leadership required by schools in our fast changing world.

“Formally recognising those principals and school leaders who attain certification standards will shine a light on the complexity and challenge involved in today’s demanding school leadership roles, as well as the skills and experience of the certified individuals.”

As Chair, Mr McDonald will work closely with the Certified Practising Principal (CPP) Board – which will include current school leaders and individuals with regulatory experience outside education, and will be announced shortly – to implement and oversee CPP, and to ensure the quality and integrity of the CPP award are consistent with best practice.

ACER Chief Executive Professor Geoff Masters welcomed Mr McDonald to the role and said his background in educational leadership and track record in providing executive oversight made him an ideal candidate for the role.

“We are delighted to have been able to appoint such a respected leader with substantial experience in the education sector to chair the Certified Practising Principal (CPP) Board,” Professor Masters said. 

QELi is an innovative not-for-profit institute committed to supporting educators through the delivery of high-quality leadership and capability professional development programs that drive collaboration and school improvement. Prior to becoming CEO of the organisation, Mr McDonald was Executive Director, Organisational Transformation and Capability, in the Department of Education. As Acting CEO of the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA), he transitioned the organisation to the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA). Mr McDonald was a key leader in the development of Queensland’s Curriculum into the Classroom (C2C) initiative.
CPP recognises the unique role of principals in improving the quality of learning and teaching in schools.

The Australian Professional Standard for Principals sets out what principals are expected to know, understand and do to achieve the highest standard of school leadership. CPP certification is a formal endorsement that an experienced, practising principal has attained a designated standard of accomplished practice in accordance with profession-developed requirements and the Principal Standard.

For more information about CPP, please visit

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