Finally, a place where experienced school leaders can go for confidential, robust discussion and support.

Written by Stephen Scott, Author and Creator of The 15 DisciplinesCopyright © Stephen Scott 2018

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, at the address:  The 15 Disciplines – PO Box 69, Sherwood. QLD, 4075, Australia. 

Mission / Purpose

To accelerate 10 Independent School Leaders to the top of their game by sharing experiences and learning from each other in a high trust environment.


A high performing and confidential assembly of 10 Independent School Leaders who meet regularly to access the collective wisdom of the group and to support each other in the pursuit of excellence in educational leadership.


Roundtable values have been defined to achieve best practice in the conduct of our Monthly Check-In Roundtable meetings and annual retreats. The five values are what our members believe will enable them to extract the greatest value from their Roundtable experiences.

These are:

1. Attendance – Members subscribe to the Roundtable because of the collective wisdom available to them. As such, members come to each Roundtable with a high expectation that their colleagues will attend every meeting, on time, every time.

2. Presence – Our members attend not only for what they receive, but also for what they give. It is therefore expected that each member show respect to their colleagues by removing all outside distractions and give freely of their experiences for the sole purpose of collective growth.

3. Confidentiality – Roundtables defend confidentiality passionately. Confidentiality is the foundation of trust and it must be absolute if members are to make themselves vulnerable to their colleagues by fully disclosing their challenges at the time.

4. Personal Responsibility – Each member is an equal shareholder in the Roundtable experience and is therefore responsible for their own learning and growth. Our members must be willing to take risks and share their relevant experiences for the benefit of their colleagues’ learning.

5. Standards – The terms of reference for a Roundtable are in place to ensure the member’s experience is of the highest possible standard. A Chairperson is therefore appointed to oversee the conduct of every meeting.

Roundtable is a professional setting, that guarantees high levels of conduct worthy of the financial investment made by each member. An investment in Roundtable gives each member access to the collective wisdom of 9 other Principals or Senior Leaders. The quality of that wisdom and its availability to each member is predicated on the professional standards guiding the conduct of the Roundtable.

The 15 Disciplines has carefully defined a series of minimum standards of professionalism which, when upheld, will enable each member to acquire the greatest value from the Roundtable experience. This guarantees full protection of each member’s financial investment. These standards are listed in this document as ‘Terms of Reference’.

The 15 Disciplines also understands each Roundtable will have a unique personality by way of bringing 10 individual personalities together. We have therefore made provision for the Roundtable members, should they wish, to define additional standards of their own to uphold. These additional standards, will not be allowed to replace or relax existing standards defined in the Terms of Reference.

As a guarantee of each member’s investment, The 15 Disciplines will provide a Chairperson to monitor and guide the professional conduct of each Roundtable. Notwithstanding this service, each member is an equal shareholder in the Roundtable experience. This means each individual member is personally responsible for upholding the standards of the Roundtable experience to ensure it achieves its mission.

1.  Minimum Membership – Annual

2.  Membership Term – 1 January to 31 December each year.

3.  Members – 10 x Independent School Principals or Senior Leaders plus one professional Chairperson

4.  Meetings – There are nine Roundtable meetings per year. Eight of the meetings are of five-hours duration and the remaining meeting is a two-night, two-day retreat.

5.  Retreats – The two-day Roundtable Retreats will be held in February of each year unless unanimously agreed otherwise.

6.  Location of Meetings – The eight five-hour meetings will be in a boardroom environment hosted by members at their schools on a rotational basis. The two-day retreat will be hosted by The 15 Disciplines at a commercial resort style location within 100 km radius of the Brisbane CBD, unless unanimously agreed otherwise.

7.  Scheduling of Meetings – An annual calendar of meetings will be proposed by the chairperson and agreed upon by the members at the start of each membership term (January of each year).

8.  Attendance – It is expected that members attend all scheduled meetings ready to start at the time set on the meeting agenda.

9.  Rescheduling a Meeting – If a member wishes to reschedule a Roundtable meeting, it will be that member’s responsibility to communicate to the Roundtable Secretary who will follow up the request with all members. Meetings shall not be rescheduled without 100% agreement by all members.

10.  Non-Attendance – A member who misses two meetings or a retreat within a membership year will be asked to show cause to the members as to why that person should remain a member. All members not able to attend a meeting are required to submit an apology no later than the evening before the Roundtable meeting commences.

11.  Punctuality – Should a member be up to 30 minutes late; they shall incur a penalty of 1 point. Should a member be longer than 30 minutes late to a meeting without an apology, they may be excluded from the meeting by the Chairperson. A penalty of 1 point will apply if a member is excluded by the Chairperson (see Penalties below).

12.  Mobile phones – As a minimum, mobile phones are to be switched to ‘Flight Mode’ before each meeting commences. A penalty of 1 point will be applicable to a member whose phone rings during a meeting. This will be recorded by the Secretary at the request of the Chairperson (see Penalties below). Please note, members will be immediately contactable at all times throughout the meeting through the Roundtable Secretary.

13.  Computers and tablets – it is understood that members will rely on electronic documents hosted on their laptop computers or tablets. It is expected that email systems will be closed for the duration of the meeting. A penalty of 1 point will be applicable to a member who is seen to be reading emails during a meeting. This will be recorded by the Secretary at the request of the Chairperson (see Penalties below).

14.  Conflict of Interest – Leaders applying to join a Roundtable will be vetted by Laurus to ensure there is no conflict of interest between members. The following considerations may be factors for consideration when considering applications:

a) Two members of the same Roundtable reporting to the same governance committee i.e. school board or council, overseeing their schools.

b) Two members of the same Roundtable working within the same school system i.e. Anglican, Lutheran, State Grammar etc.

c) Two members of the same Roundtable working in the same Geographical catchment area.

d) Two members of the same Roundtable have worked at the same school within three years of applying for membership.

15.  Unforeseen Conflict of Interest – Where there is an unforeseen conflict of interest that has emerged during a Roundtable discussion, the member to which the conflict may affect is to call a ‘time out’ and request to speak to the Chairperson outside the room, to disclose that conflict of interest. The Chairperson will then determine a course of action for managing that perception in line with the terms of reference for a Roundtable.

16.  Resignations – Members seeking a resignation from the Roundtable are expected to initiate this directly with the Chairperson. The member will, upon acceptance of the resignation by the Chairperson, be required to provide an exit presentation to all remaining members. Membership refunds are not guaranteed and will be considered on a case by case basis.

17.  Food and Alcohol – The following standards apply:

a) No consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted during Monthly Check-In Meetings or prior to Monthly Check In Meetings.

b) No consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted at the annual retreat except during times annotated on the annual retreat agenda.

c) Food may be consumed during meetings however not at the expense of each member’s ‘presence’ or ‘respect’ for the presenting member.

18.  Penalties – When a Roundtable member accumulates 3 penalty points, their continued membership will be subject to a review by the members. If the members decide to continue the membership, the 3 penalty points remain against the member’s name and one further penalty point will result in another immediate review by the remaining Roundtable members.

19.  Business Dealings – Business transactions between Roundtable members are not permitted.

20.  Fraternisation – No romantic relationships are permitted between Roundtable members.

21.  Meeting Preparation – Each member is to ensure the following meeting preparation requirements are adhered to:

a) The Roundtable Monthly Check-In Guide is to be completed by each member prior to the commencement of each meeting.

b) Mentors are to follow up and support their rostered Presenter in accordance with the Mentoring guidelines outlined in this document.

c) Presenters are to prepare their Presenter’s Guide for Mentors to review prior to meeting with them before they are due to present at the next scheduled Roundtable meeting.

22.  Gestalt Language –Roundtables members subscribe to the universally accepted standards of the Gestalt Protocol in their interaction with each other. This means members do not judge each other nor do members advise each other. Each Roundtable member will be required to undergo Gestalt familiarisation upon induction as a new member.

Additional Terms of Reference

Should members wish to include additional terms of reference for conduct of their Roundtable, these must be tabled when called for by the Chairperson during ‘Roundtable Business’. Unanimous acceptance of the proposed terms of reference will be created as an appendix to this document.

There are 9 formal group meeting opportunities scheduled throughout each calendar year. Meeting dates are to be agreed to earlier in each year and recorded in the Annual Calendar.

Specific meeting dates are negotiated and agreed to by the members at the commencement of each membership year.

February – The two-day retreat is held in an offsite commercial resort style facility organised and paid for in full by The 15 Disciplines. It includes all meals, accommodation, some refreshments and guest presentations.

Annual two-day / two-night residential retreat


Monthly Check-In Roundtable Meeting


Monthly Check-In Roundtable Meeting


Monthly Check-In Roundtable Meeting


Monthly Check-In Roundtable Meeting


Mid-Year Break


Monthly Check-In Roundtable Meeting


Monthly Check-In Roundtable Meeting


Monthly Check-In Roundtable Meeting


Monthly Check-In Roundtable Meeting

The Chairperson

The role of Chairperson is a professional role provided by The 15 Disciplines.

Leader – the Chairperson establishes structure and provides focus for the group and will participate when needed by redirecting or promoting new discussion and to build team consensus.

Facilitator – the Chairperson will maintain order in group discussion and discourage dominance from a single member.

Manager – the Chairperson will ensure the meetings stay on track to the standards and timings outlined in both the Monthly Meeting Agenda and the Annual Retreat Agenda.

Communicator – The Chairperson will keep everyone informed, seek clarification on matters and allocate appropriate timings on the agenda for matters raised by the members.

Member – the Chairperson is trustworthy and maintains integrity always by applying the same standards expected of members.

Mentor – the Chairperson is also a leadership mentor to the individual members of the Roundtable, providing two hours mentoring per member per year to review and support creation of their individual goals.

The Secretary

The role of Secretary is a professional role provided by The 15 Disciplines.

The Secretary will keep notes of absence, tardiness, group roster and constitution. This person will also maintain appropriate records of penalties, group activities etc., handle meeting logistics and keep minutes of the housekeeping section of the meetings.

The Secretary will ensure appropriate and timely communication amongst members outside scheduled meeting times on all matters relating to meetings and retreats.

The Secretary will be the central point of communication for any member or their Personal Assistant to request changes to previously agreed meeting schedules.

Location: TBC

Date: DD MM YYYY Time: 5-hour duration. Members determine start times.

Purpose: To accelerate 10 Independent School Leaders to the top of their game by sharing experiences and learning from each other in a high trust environment

Welcome (15 minutes)

• Agenda Review

• Confidentiality Reminder

• Clearing

Roles and Responsibilities (Gestalt | Warehouse | Timekeeping)

• One word (each person to say one word that best describes how they are feeling)

• Communication Starter

Monthly Check In (1 hour)
  •  3 to 5 minutes – Update from each per person using the Roundtable Monthly Check-In Guide – includes clarifying questions from colleagues
Break (5 minutes)
First Presentation (1 hour)
  • 2 minutes – Mentor’s introduction
  • 15 minutes – Presentation
  • 10 minutes – Member’s clarifying questions
  • 3 minutes – Silent reflection
  • 25 minutes – Members’ sharing of experiences
  • 5 minutes – Presenter’s feedback on takeaway value
Break (10 minutes)


School Tour by Host Member (50 minutes)


Second Presentation (1 hour)
  • 2 minutes – Mentor’s introduction
  • 15 minutes – Presentation
  • 10 minutes – Member’s clarifying questions
  • 3 minutes – Silent reflection
  • 25 minutes – Members’ sharing of experiences
  • 5 minutes – Presenter’s feedback on takeaway value ** Please note this second presentation could be replaced by a guest presentation**
Warehouse Review (15 minutes)
  • Review of ‘Warehouse’ created from Monthly Check In updates earlier in the meeting.
  • Agreement on First and Second presentations for next meeting.
  • Allocation of Mentors to Presenters.
Roundtable Business (15 minutes)
  • Upcoming mentoring with Roundtable Chairperson
  • Retreat Plans (Report on Progress)
  • Members concerns with constitution compliance etc.
  • Upcoming events, breaking news relevant to Independent School Leaders
  • Innovations – Sharing of something innovative in education to support leaders in their roles
  • Confirmation of next meeting
  • Gestalt Feedback (Chairperson and delegates)
  • Member’s assessment of Roundtable
  • One-word barometer

Please note: The format for each meeting is a working breakfast/lunch. The host is required to provide a light meal and refreshments for the roundtable meeting. The roundtable secretary will liaise with the host, or host’s PA, to support this prior to the meeting.

Each member will provide a monthly update to the Roundtable members every meeting using the Monthly Check-In Guide.

The purpose of ‘Monthly Check Ins’ is to provide an opportunity for each member to reflect on their current situation by reviewing, talking about and sharing significant relevant events and situations in their life.

Monthly Check Ins set the tone for each Roundtable meeting. The Chairperson will determine an order of speaking.

As a guide, the following is a description of each area of the Monthly Check In:

  • One Word Open is a word you choose that best describes how you are feeling at that time
  • The Most Important Thing in my Life Right Now is an opportunity to remind the leader of what he or she should be focusing on right now
  • Three Primary Goals is a reminder to the leader of their big picture objectives and how they are progressing toward them
  • Checking In is the process of each member reflecting on past 30 days and the next 30 days in their life. Check-ins are to be completed in full prior to the commencement of each Monthly Check In Roundtable meeting. When Checking In and determining the Significant Best or Worst, members must identify two factors:
    • The event or issue at hand, and
    • The effect it is or will have on the leader’s life
  • Monthly Check-In Update is the process of talking about and sharing the significant events and situations in a leader’s life with other leaders
  • Needs and Ideas is an opportunity for each member to advise of a need in their life and ask for a lead to a potential supplier or solution.

The purpose of Warehousing is to:

1. Record and store issues, ideas and concepts for Roundtable members.

2. Allows total visibility of all issues so they can be prioritised for presentation.

Warehouse Process

1. Each meeting two (2) people are delegated the responsibility to manage the Warehouse by the Chairperson

2. As each member provides their Monthly Check In, they will reveal challenges and highlights from their personal and professional lives that may benefit from either seeking the experience and the collective wisdom of the Roundtable or sharing with the Roundtable for the benefit of collective learning

3. Once all Monthly Check Ins are complete, the Chairperson will ask the Warehouse delegates to brief the group on challenges and highlights they heard from the members

4. These will be typed into the existing Warehouse document (created from previous meetings) by the Secretary and re-prioritised by degrees of urgency and importance, by the Roundtable members under the guidance of the Chairperson

5. From this Warehouse document, future presentations will be determined using the Covey grid below;

Presentations are the heart of the Roundtable. They are where members spend most of their time while attending a Roundtable meeting. A well prepared, well mentored presentation with depth is guaranteed to offer value to every member, not just the presenting member.

Presenters do not get to select their own Mentor. A Mentor is not provided to offer solutions to the Presenter’s issues, he or she is there to assist the Presenter to:

1. Conform to presentation processes.

2. Unpack the Presenter’s issues so that the presentation is as open as possible for other members to gain a full appreciation of the issue.

3. Understand how the issue is affecting the presenter and how that makes the presenter feel.

4. Determine where the presenter is in his/her decision-making process.

5. Understand what experiences the presenter wants to hear from the Roundtable colleagues.

Every member of the Roundtable should be able to do this for any member. It’s not the issue, it’s the process that matters at this time.

Presentation Roles

There are five distinct roles to be played during a presentation. They are:

  • Presenter – To prepare and present a core issue or challenge with a mentor using the Presenter’s Guide. Presenters are scheduled on a prioritisation basis drawn from the Warehouse.
  • Mentor – To meet with the presenter before the meeting to assist in preparation of that person’s presentation using the Mentoring Guide. Mentors are rostered and recorded on the Annual Calendar.
  • Time-Keeper – Monitor progress of the presentation to the allocated timings, give warnings as time elapses and notices of when time is up. The Chairperson will perform the role of time-keeper.
  • Gestalt Language Observer – Give notice and assistance when the Gestalt Language Protocol is breached. The Chairperson will perform the role of Gestalt Language Observer; however, any member of the Roundtable can give notice or assist when Gestalt is breached.
  • Members – To enquire by asking questions that will help the presenter think more deeply about his /her core issue or challenge and to share relevant experiences for consideration by the presenting member.
Mentoring Guidelines

The role of the mentor is to support a presenter to prepare for their presentation to the Roundtable. It is not the role of the Mentor to solve the Presenter’s issues or challenges.

The mentor and the presenter meet outside scheduled Roundtable meeting times to prepare for a presentation scheduled for the next Roundtable meeting. Ideally this meeting would take place one to two weeks before the presentation and should take up to one hour to complete.

The presenter is to provide the mentor with a completed Presenter’s Guide prior to meeting with the mentor.

The mentor should complete the Mentoring Guide while meeting with the presenter.

Presentation Process

1. Mentor’s Introduction – the mentor will refer to the Mentoring Worksheet to introduce the presenter to the members. The purpose of the mentor’s introduction is to align the members to how they felt in a similar situation the presenter is feeling. The mentor will outline the boundaries, anything that is off limits or already decided and if there are any parameters around the types of questions the members can ask.

2. Statement of Presenter’s Expectations – the mentor will tell the members why the presentation is being made and what kind of experiences the presenter is seeking.

3. Confidentiality Reminder – The Chairperson will do a quick confidentiality reminder and remind members they are not to interrupt the presenter at any stage.

4. Presentation of Issue – The presenter will present their issues to the members without interruption. Members will record notes on what they understand including any clarifying questions they may want to ask.

5. Questions – Members are then advised by the Chairperson that they can now ask questions, while monitoring for Gestalt compliance. Two types of questions can be asked:

a. Clarifying questions – these help the members to decide which experiences they will share; and

b. Thought provoking questions – these inspire introspective insights for the presenter.

6. 3 Minutes Silence – everyone takes time to reflect on the presentation, the answers to the questions and think about the experiences they want to share.

7. Experience Sharing – Roundtable members share their relevant experiences. Everyone should speak regardless of how similar their experiences might be to another member.

8. Takeaway Value – The presenter is then asked by the Chairperson to confirm they received the information they were seeking from the Roundtable and how they are feeling.

After each Monthly Check In meeting, the Chairperson will ask the members to do a temperature check on their Roundtable experience by rating the meeting out of 10. Scores are saved each month, and a Running Average Score (RAS) for each meeting and per member will be kept on the Roundtable Temperature Check Scoresheet.

The purpose of the Annual Retreat is to:
  • Enable members to bond with each other
  • Focus on Roundtable process improvement
  • Remove leaders from their daily environments
  • Escape the usual time constraints for group activity
  • Spend targeted time on a specific development goal
  • Integrate new members
  • Work on higher level goal setting and planning
Six basic rules of Annual Retreats are:

1. All Roundtable members must attend

2. Activities must be suitable for all members

3. Time must be allocated for robust work and discussion

4. Time must be allocated for social / bonding

5. There must be two nights away

6. There must be a routine Monthly Check In meeting scheduled into the agenda

The location of the Annual Retreat must account for:
  • An appropriate indoor and outdoor environment for confidential discussion, comfort and can support agreed activities
  • Private accommodation of all Roundtable members
  • Selection of spaces to use to avoid feeling trapped in one room.

Annual Retreat Agenda (Sample Only)

Meeting agenda – Sample (2 Days)

Roundtable Name, DD MM YYYY, Time

Roundtable Mission Statement


17:00 Members Arrival
  • Members arrive, check in to accommodation and meet in an agreed location for meet up and drinks.
18:00 – 21:00 Private Dinner Function
  • Private dinner function
  • Members to provide a 3-minute talk to introduce themselves
21:00 – Onwards
  • Free time


07:30 – 09:00 Breakfast
  • Served in the restaurant
09:00 – 09:15 Formal Retreat Opening
  • Agenda Review
  • Confidentiality Reminder
  • Clearing
  • Roles and responsibilities (Gestalt | Warehouse)
  • One-word barometer (each person to say one word that best describes how they are feeling)
  • Communication Starter
09:15 – 10:30 Monthly Check In
  • 3 to 5 minutes – Update from each per person using the Roundtable Monthly Check-In Guide – includes clarifying questions from colleagues. .
10:30 – 11.00 Morning Tea
  • Served in room
11.00 – 12:30 First Presentation
  • 5 minutes – Mentor’s introduction
  • 20 – 30 minutes – Presentation
  • 20 minutes – Member’s clarifying questions
  • 5 minutes – Silent reflection
  • 25 minutes – Members’ sharing of experiences
  • 5 minutes – Presenter’s feedback on takeaway value .
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
  • Served in restaurant
13:30 – 16:30 Team Building Activity
  • A physical and intellectual challenge that has significant and relevant learning for members and enables greater bonds to be created between members. .
16:30 – 17:30 Free Time
  • An opportunity for members to check in with work / family
17:30 – 18:30 Pre-Dinner Drinks & Socialising
  • An opportunity for members to enjoy a refreshment while connecting and networking outside the formality of Roundtable processes. .
18:30 – 22:00 Private Dinner Function
  • A three-course meal with table wines served in a private room.
  • A guest speaker to provide entertainment and insights over dinner


07:30 – 08:30 Breakfast
  • Served in the restaurant
08:30 – 08:50 Reflection on Day 1
  • Chairperson led discussion reflecting on takeaway value from Day 1
08:50 – 10:10 Second Presentation
  • 5 minutes – Mentor’s introduction
  • 20 – 30 minutes – Presentation
  • 20 minutes – Member’s clarifying questions
  • 5 minutes – Silent reflection
  • 25 minutes – Members’ sharing of experiences
  • 5 minutes – Presenter’s feedback on takeaway value
10:10 – 10:30 Morning Tea
  • Served in room
10:30 – 12:30 Guest Presenter Workshop
  • An outsourced professional will provide a presentation and supporting activity on a topic selected as a priority by Roundtable members.
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
  • Served in restaurant
13:30 – 15:40 Annual Planning for Targeted Goals
  • A 10-minute presentation from all members detailing what they have learned from a recent scan of their school environment to understand the capabilities and threats to achieving their school objectives and supporting strategies.
15:40 – 16:00 Afternoon Tea
  • Served in room
16:00 – 16:30 Future Presentations
  • Review of warehouse created from monthly check In updates | retreat presentations
  • Agreement on next first and second presentations
  • Allocation of a mentors to next presenters
16:30 – 17:00 Roundtable Business
  • Upcoming Mentoring / mentoring with Roundtable Chairperson
  • Members concerns with constitution compliance etc.
  • Upcoming events, breaking news relevant to Independent School Leaders
  • Innovations – Sharing of something innovative in education to support leaders in their roles
  • Confirmation of next meeting
  • Gestalt Feedback (Chairperson and member delegate)
  • Member’s assessment of Retreat
  • One-word barometer

The ongoing health of the Roundtable is vital to the both the success of the concept and the value each leader acquires from their membership.

Each year at the Annual Retreat the members will be asked to complete the following survey in eleven significant areas of Roundtable function.

Roundtable Annual Membership Fee:

An annual roundtable membership fee is $4750 ex. GST. All meetings, including the annual retreat are included in this cost. Please note, fees do not include costs for members to travel to and from meetings.

Apply for a Roundtable Membership

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