Staffing, funding, wellbeing:

Key issues for principals

Staffing, resourcing and wellbeing were high on the agenda when the IEU Principals’ Sub Branch met on 1 May at the IEU’s Parramatta office and via Zoom.

A warm welcome was extended to principals Niamh Marzol from the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese and to Vicky Davidson from the Wollongong Diocese, who were attending for the first time.

Principals expressed appreciation for the IEU’s engagement with the issue of staff shortages, including a recent union survey of reps and principals in rural and regional dioceses. Principals from both metropolitan and country areas told the sub branch about their own experiences of the challenges in recruiting casual, temporary and permanent staff.

They raised concerns about the impact on schools, such as splitting classes and additional extras, loss of release time, loss of professional planning time, and the use of specialist and leadership staff to cover classes.

Principals also acknowledged the IEU’s campaign to address the workload associated with the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) for students with disabilities. The IEU has conducted a survey and provided a report on members’ concerns about the NCCD. We’ve met with the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment; with Catholic Schools NSW; and with dioceses about the report findings and the way forward in relation to workload, the technology platform and other concerns.

We believe One Nation’s proposed legislation is unworkable and unsafe and would adversely impact on the work of schools and their support for vulnerable students.

In the words of one principal: “The NCCD is important for funding, but the emphasis must be on student learning and wellbeing, not just on data collection and analysis. The current NCCD model diverts time and focus away from student needs.”

Also of concern to the Principals’ Sub Branch was One Nation’s Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill which is currently before the NSW Parliament. If enacted, this legislation will have a significant impact on curriculum, classroom practice and the work of teachers, counsellors and other school staff. Principals expressed concerns about the potential to restrict the curriculum in areas such as climate and the environment, First Nations issues, and in regard to student wellbeing and identity, including gender and sexuality.

The IEU will continue its campaign to oppose this Bill. We believe it is unworkable and unsafe and would adversely impact on the work of schools and their support for vulnerable students.

The IEU greatly values opportunities to meet with principal members. We met with Sydney principals via Zoom on 31 March and will meet with Parramatta principals on 10 June. It has also been a great pleasure to make presentations to principals who have been continuous members of the IEU for 30 years or 40 years, and we have more occasions to come in celebration of this loyalty and commitment.

Principals’ Sub Branch meetings will be held on 7 August 2021 and 6 November 2021 at the IEU’s Parramatta office and via Zoom.

Pam Smith
Assistant Secretary/Principals' Organiser