Restrictions lift, but pressure on principals remains

As the 2021 school year unfolds, and COVID restrictions begin to lift, principals and their staff continue to face the challenges of workload, their wellbeing and that of their students, as well as dealing with the many social and economic issues which affect families and communities.

Unfortunately, principals were not surprised by the results of the 2020 annual Australian Principals’ Health and Wellbeing Survey which showed that school leaders worked an average of 54.5 hours per week and that during school terms 22.1 percent of school leaders worked more than 60 hours per week. Again unsurprisingly, this workload often resulted in reports of anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and other physical symptoms. This heavy workload also has an impact on teachers and support staff, especially in regard to meeting the compliance demands on schools.

Principal members have expressed their support for the IEU’s efforts to address workload and other concerns associated with the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) for students with disabilities and also in relation to shortages of casual teachers and the effect on school operations and workloads.

The IEU is also engaging with NESA’s consultation on the impact of compliance on teacher time, including reference to work intensification associated with NSW curriculum and also NCCD issues.

Thank you to the IEU principals’ reps in the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney for arranging an IEU meeting via Zoom on 31 March with a focus on issues for the next enterprise agreement negotiations. The Sydney principals’ chapter meeting also acknowledged the significant appointment of Silvana Rossetti as principal of systemic boys’ school Marist College at Eastwood and of Vittoria Lavorato as principal of St Patrick’s College, a Catholic independent boys’ school, at Strathfield. Within the context of current debates around gender and consent, the IEU has valued the perspectives of many principals who are addressing these issues with their students.

It has been a great pleasure to acknowledge recently some principal members for their 40 or more years of IEU membership and there are more such presentations to come. The IEU deeply appreciates the loyalty and commitment of these principal members and the contributions they have made over four decades as teachers and leaders in their schools and communities.

IEU Principals’ Sub Branch meetings are scheduled for 1 May, 7 August and 6 November at the union’s Parramatta office but also with a Zoom option.

Pam Smith
Assistant Secretary/Principals’ Organiser