COVID tracing a heavy burden for schools

The IEU Principals’ Sub Branch met via Zoom on 6 November with appreciation to principal members for their engagement and support during the ongoing challenges of COVID.

The union has also valued opportunities to meet via Zoom with principals in the Sydney Archdiocese, in Parramatta and Wilcannia-Forbes, and with independent sector principals.

Other IEU meetings have been arranged with principals in the dioceses of Broken Bay, Wollongong, Bathurst, Canberra-Goulburn and Armidale.

Principals have raised concerns with the IEU about the major workload associated with the transfer of COVID contract tracing from NSW Health to systems and individual schools. Some principals have informed the IEU that even with diocesan office support, they and their staff have spent up to 40 hours undertaking the tracing, with the often stressful follow-ups with families and communities.

The IEU shares these concerns and believes consultation about the workload implications of this shift of responsibility to schools was inadequate.

Recent IEU principals’ meetings have also raised issues about staffing shortages, dealing with increasing mental health needs of students and families, and a range of other workload and wellbeing issues for principals, including the importance of induction, mentoring and other support arrangements for principals and school leadership.

These meetings have also been valuable in identifying specific issues for the Catholic Systemic Principals’ Enterprise Agreement (EA) claims. While the principals’ EA claims for the Sydney Archdiocese and the other NSW/ACT dioceses will be informed by the claims being developed for systemic teachers and support staff, there will also be issues in relation to principals’ salary structures, contracts, and conditions of employment.

Association of Independent Schools

In the AIS sector, voting for the teacher and support staff agreements was held from 18 to 24 November, with the IEU aware that the salary and conditions of many principals in independent schools are based on the teachers’ rate.

Multi-enterprise agreements

The IEU thanks principals again for their membership and participation and looks forward to being of support in progressing their industrial, professional and wellbeing interests. Everyone hopes that 2022 will be a better year for schools and their communities.

Pam Smith Convenor
Principals Sub Branch