IEU principals’ membership reflects the great diversity of our Union, and principals represent a comprehensive range of sectors covered by the IEU, including Catholic systemic and Catholic independent, other independent schools, Christian schools, Islamic schools, schools for special needs students such as Aspect, and a variety of schools and services operated by charitable organisations.
While there are Enterprise Agreements (EAs) in place for principals in Catholic systemic schools, and established linkages to teacher EAs for some other principals, it is evident that there are significant issues affecting principals across the non government education sector and with the vital need to protect and enhance the industrial, professional and wellbeing interests of principals.
In 2018 it is clear that a range of common issues are impacting on IEU principal members,including:
• lack of clarity and certainty around school funding, especially for special needs students
• compliance and workload issues for principals and their staff – these issues may be generated by governments, school systems or the expectations of school boards/governing bodies
• dealing with challenging behaviour of students and parents, including instances of threatened or actual violence
• changing community expectations around the role of schools, including views about schools’ roles in dealing with complex family and mental health issues, and
• the role of social media in school communities and sometimes its inappropriate use by students or parents.
Within this context, the IEU acknowledges the importance of wellbeing initiatives being undertaken by some employers with the support of principal members, including a current project in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, the Principals’ Wellbeing Policy in the Wollongong Diocese, and efforts in the Wagga Wagga Diocese to focus on a health and wellbeing change agenda.
Strong support will continue from IEUA NSW/ACT Branch for the annual Australian Principals Health and Wellbeing surveys and the valuable research being undertaken by Dr Phil Riley and the work of Teachers Health in supporting this initiative and reporting on the data.
IEU Principals Sub Branch meetings are scheduled for 4 August and 3 November. Opportunities to meet with principals at regional, diocesan or other occasions are also welcome.