Principals discuss key workplace issues

IEU Principals’ Sub Branch held its AGM via Zoom on 13 February with a warm welcome to those participating for the first time: Belinda Burton from the Armidale Diocese, Anthony Weir from Sydney and Seb Spina from Wagga Wagga.

Sincere appreciation was expressed to Sidonie Coffey for her leadership of the sub branch over more than a decade, her role as an IEU Council delegate and for her great advocacy on behalf of principals. Sidonie will continue to support principals through her current Maitland-Newcastle CSO role and in a variety of ways via her ongoing IEU involvement.

Congratulations to the Principals’ Sub Branch members who have accepted leadership roles for 2021:

President: Noeleen O’Neill (Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese)

Vice President: Kathy Neely (Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese)

Secretary: Jude Ryan (Wilcannia-Forbes) Des Fox (Sydney Archdiocese) Sub Branch Committee: Peter Meers (Bathurst) Therese Seymour (Lismore) Chris Egan (Sydney) Belinda Burton (Armidale)

A range of education issues provided a focus for the sub branch meeting, including the IEU report on The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) concerns, the NSW curriculum ‘reform’ process, NESA and the impact of changes to PD for maintenance of accreditation and the IEU’s participation in the Thrive By Five campaign. Appreciation is expressed to IEU officers Veronica Yewdall and Megan Bruce for their contribution on these matters.

Principals frequently raise issues about school staffing and the union has recently contacted principals and reps in the eight rural and regional dioceses to invite them to undertake a survey in relation to staff shortages in Catholic systemic schools. The survey may also be extended to the three metropolitan dioceses in future.

Difficulty in recruiting teachers was identified as a major concern affecting government schools in a recent report commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation (the Gallop Report). The IEU also understands that Catholic Schools NSW is currently developing a workforce strategy to address the same problems. Having more detailed information will assist our union to work with employers to try to find a solution.

In response to concerns from principals about announcements for NSW government schools about the roll out of the COVID tutoring program, the IEU has contacted the Catholic Employment Relations (CER) and all diocesan offices to seek information in regard to the timeline and delivery of the tutor program in the NSW Catholic sector. The IEU also issued a media release calling for appropriate consultation with principals and staff about the tutoring program and the preference to employ casual and part-time staff in the local school community to undertake the tutoring.

Enhanced recognition and remuneration for school support staff is a major equity priority for the IEU and the union is currently engaged in a Support Staff Working Party with CER to determine pay inequities between support staff in Catholic systemic schools and those in the NSW government sector. A report by IEU Industrial Officer Carolyn Moore was presented to the sub branch meeting and equity for support staff was also a focus for the IEU on International Women’s Day this year.

Future principals’ sub branch meeting dates were set for 1 May, 7 August and 6 November this year and 19 February 2022. Opportunities to meet at diocesan/regional levels are also most welcome, especially as the union begins to develop the next enterprise agreement claim for Catholic systemic principals.

Pam Smith
Assistant Secretary/Principals’ Organiser