Following discussions at the Principals’ Sub Branch meeting on 3 August and at other meetings with Catholic systemic principal members, an enterprise agreement (EA) claim was developed and presented at the IEU’s August Council meeting.
The EA claim was then formally lodged with CCER on 4 September and includes key aspects of the pay and conditions claim for teachers, as well as specific issues in relation to principals’ classification and remuneration, the implications of emerging models of leadership such as ‘school networks’ and ‘co-principals’, the increasing workload associated with compliance, and concerns about the safety and wellbeing of principals.
Another issue raised by principal members in some dioceses is the need for greater flexibility in the appointment of support staff at higher classification levels to assist the work of schools and to help alleviate workload pressures on principals and teachers.
At present Catholic systemic principals in the Sydney Archdiocese are covered by their own agreement, while those in the other 10 dioceses are under one NSW/ACT principals’ EA.
Sydney principals have generally expressed a preference for being under a comprehensive EA with their NSW and ACT colleagues, subject to an alignment of salaries to combine the salary scales to ensure the adoption of the highest salary at each point. If Sydney Archdiocese does wish to retain a separate EA, the Union will seek a review of contract renewal and progression provisions for principals in the Archdiocese.
Within the context of the EA discussions, the Union has been meeting regularly with principal members and recent gatherings have included Parramatta Diocese principals on 13 August, Sydney Eastern Region principals on 23 August and Broken Bay principals on 19 September.
Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese principals will meet on 1 November, Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese on 6 November, Bathurst on 8 November and Lismore Diocese principals on 28 November. Discussions are underway for meetings/teleconferences in the Sydney Southern Region and in some country dioceses.
With regard to principals’ wellbeing, the IEUA is a participant in the Stakeholder and Research Advisory Committee for a research project on Teachers’ Experiences of Bullying and Harassment in Australian Schools.
This initiative is being overseen by La Trobe University and other participants include CaSPA, APPA and AHISA. It follows upon a 2018 La Trobe University exploratory survey in relation to bullying and harassment of principals and teachers by students and parents which found significant wellbeing impacts of such negative behavior.
A preliminary meeting of the Stakeholder and Research Advisory Committee was held on 23 September and it was agreed that the role of the Stakeholder Committee is to help drive the project and provide advice from the perspective of principals and teachers. Its role is also to ensure that the research is not only academically rigorous but is practical and relevant for education systems, schools and staff.
Focus areas at this stage were identified as including early career teachers and principals. There was also recognition that bullying and harassment issues also impact on front line workers such as school office staff. Further updates will be provided as the research progresses.