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Applications for Unlocking Potential: Principal Preparation

The following information outlines everything you need to know about the application process for Unlocking Potential: Principal Preparation (UP). 


To be eligible for the UP program you must:

  • aspire to move into a substantive principal role within the next 2 years
  • be an employee of the Department of Education and Training
  • have a minimum of 5 years’ teaching experience
  • have the support of your school principal to apply for and participate in the program.

Preparing your application 

As part of your application you will need to: 

  • respond to the key selection criteria
  • develop a career map
  • upload a 2-minute video. 

Key Selection Criteria

The key selection criteria align to the Australian Professional Standard for Principals (Standard) and the Victorian Aspiring Principal Assessment (VAPA).  

You are strongly encouraged to familiarise yourself with the Standard and VAPA before developing your responses. 

KSC 1: Leading Teaching and Learning

Provide an example of a time when have you led the improvement of teaching and learning. As you answer this question, describe the learning culture you developed or influenced that led to improved student achievement.   

KSC 2: Developing self and others                                                                                                              

Describe a time when you have assessed the need for personal and/or professional development for yourself or member of the school community. How did this come about and what actions did you take? 

KSC 3: Leading improvement, innovation and change

When have you been involved in a school improvement project? What role did you play in identifying the need for change, and developing and implementing strategic actions within the project goals? 

KSC 4: Readiness for this program 

This program is targeted at aspiring principals that are highly likely to move into a principal role within the next 2 years.  Reflecting on your personal leadership journey, describe your readiness to undertake the program. 

Career map

You career map will outline your educational career so far, specifically:

  • job history including role title, length of time in the role, location, responsibilities and achievements
  • any targeted learning you have undertaken 
  • experiences which have been instrumental in building leadership capability.  

You will also need to provide the names of 3 referees who are able to attest to your capabilities against the KSC.


You will need to upload a 2-minute video that provides an insight into your leadership vision, why you want to be a school leader and why you are keen to participate in Unlocking Potential. Essentially – why leadership, why you and why now? 

Note: your video can be uploaded as an avi, m4v, mov, mp4, mpeg, mpeg4, mpg or wmv file. 

Successfully addressing the KSC

A strong response to each criterion will:   

  • use concrete example(s) that relate to the focus of the question 
  • illustrate your achievements (past) and your potential (future)  
  • discuss the what (actions), the how (processes) and the why (rationale) 
  • draw on appropriate evidence in relation to impacts/outcomes.  

To create clear and concise answers we suggest you apply the situation, action and outcome (SAO) approach:

  • situation: what was the initial context and observations of the situation
  • action: what you did and how you did it 
  • outcome: what was the result of your actions.

The most successful applications provide deep and detailed responses; focus on an example that illustrates your capabilities in an area and use that to convey the approach you use to all your work.

We encourage you to seek feedback and advice about your draft responses from your principal and/or other colleagues before submitting your final application.

Responses to the KSC are limited to 500 words per criteria. 

More information

For further information regarding the process, read our frequently asked questions

If you have any questions or need further support, contact Sam Driscoll, Course Coordinator, Unlocking Potential, via: