EA an opportunity to improve work life

Pam Smith
Principals Organiser

IEU Principals Sub Branch held its Term 3 meeting on 3 August at the Union’s Parramatta office.

Principals discussed the proposed enterprise agreement (EA) claims for teachers and support staff in the recent IEU Newsextra and engaged with many aspects, especially workload and compliance issues.

There were shared concerns about data management, including the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) process for students with disabilities, and also about the introduction of diocesan projects/initiatives without appropriate consultation with principals and staff about the workload implications.

There is also a strong awareness that many employers ramp up the requirements of NESA (such as for programing) and have high expectations way above compliance requirements.

Principals also focused on a range of issues to inform their own EA claim, including the need for genuine employer commitment to wellbeing, with specific practical measures to support principals, noting the mounting evidence that many principals are increasingly dealing with difficult student and parent situations, including threatened or actual physical violence.

Clarification of compliance requirements to ascertain their origins and also to ensure that any new projects/initiatives are only implemented after appropriate consultation with principals and staff are needed.

Classification and remuneration issues such as a review of the lower and higher enrolment band levels of the principals’ EA to determine the current appropriateness of these bands in relation to the workload demands on principals are needed.

There are issues in relation to emerging leadership models such as ‘school networks’ in the Sydney Archdiocese or ‘co-principals’ in primary schools in some regional dioceses.

The complexities of schools must be taken into account to determine principals’ salaries (such as P6. P12, vocational education, special needs) for purposes of determining enrolment bands and thus salary levels.

All school students from preschool to Year 12, whether part time or full time, should count as one student for the purposes of school numbers/size.

Greater clarity and consistency around principals’ access to professional development opportunities and professional renewal leave is needed as these provisions vary greatly from diocese to diocese.

More flexibility in the provision of support staff at higher classification levels is needed. For example, some dioceses have a restriction to only one Level 6 per school when more Level 6 and 5 roles could help alleviate workload pressures on principals and teachers.

As often with principals’ meetings, there was discussion of the NCCD and funding for students with disabilities. A copy of the National School Resourcing Board Review document was circulated and principals’ input encouraged.

Within the context of EA negotiations, an IEU breakfast meeting with Parramatta Diocese principal members was held on 13 August and plans are also underway for meetings with Broken Bay principals on 23 September and with principals in Forbes, Canberra and Armidale. Other meetings/phone conferences may be arranged within the context of EA negotiations.

IEU acknowledges the work of primary principals and their schools on Australian Primary Principals’ Day on 2 August, the first day this event has become national.

In the words of the Australian Primary Principals Association, “principals do a mountain of work in a challenging role and they are pivotal in building a strong and prosperous future for our children. Australian Primary Principals’ Day is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the contribution made to society by school principals and how much they are valued in the wider community”.