Making progress in a most difficult year

The IEU values highly the significant role of principal members during the ongoing complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge especially the challenges principals face when there are positive COVID-19 tests in the school community.

On Australian Primary Principals’ Day on 7 August, we recognised the vital contribution of principals, especially in this year which has seen extreme weather events, the pandemic and associated economic impacts on families and communities.

The Principals Sub Branch met via Zoom on 8 August with a focus on enterprise agreement negotiations and a range of education issues including the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD).

The IEU met with Sydney Catholic Schools on 2 July and reached agreement to progress EA negotiations for principals in Catholic systemic schools. As part of these negotiations, the IEU has requested that pay rates be increased for certain EA salary bands in order to address some current anomalies between the Sydney and the NSW/ACT principals’ pay scales.

The link between step progression and contract renewal was also discussed, given that Sydney contract renewal processes have changed. We also raised Sydney principals’ concerns about the implementation of the “10 year cap” in a school with SCS.

We will pursue discussions with the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) in relation to the principals’ EA for the other dioceses and, as always, the IEU will work with its principal members in all dioceses to achieve the best possible agreement to protect and enhance their interests. A specific request for practical wellbeing support for principals was included in the union’s EA claim for principals.

A Zoom meeting was held with Broken Bay principal members on 3 August regarding concerns about the Staff Absences Management Program (SAMP) and issues in relation to principals’ roles, status and employment security in the diocese. We are providing assistance to principals as appropriate and another Zoom meeting will be held.

Principals and other members have frequently raised concerns about the NCCD. The IEU convened an initial working group on 7 July with a focus on exploring issues and solutions at school, system and government levels. Concerns the working group identified include lack of analysis of the validity of NCCD processes and outcomes, plus a range of issues about time constraints, duplication of data collection, technology platform problems, and the need for greater transparency around the allocation of funding.

There was lively discussion of the NCCD at the Principals Sub Branch meeting on 8 August and the IEU welcomes the perspectives of principals on the NCCD. Similarly, we welcome input from principals in relation to a review of the National Disability Standards in Education.

Another focus for discussion at the Principals Sub Branch meeting was the NSW Curriculum Reform process and the need for appropriate ongoing engagement with principals and staff, rather than a political exercise. Principals expressed concern about a simplistic “back to basics” approach, as well as the rushed, three year timeline.

The Term 4 IEU Principals Sub Branch meeting is scheduled for November. Meetings can also be arranged with IEU principal members in diocesan, regional or sector groups.

Pam Smith
Principals’ Organiser