Supporting school leaders during challenging times

At the Term 3 IEU Principals’ Sub Branch meeting on 6 August, staff shortages were high on the agenda.

Principal members welcome the union’s initiatives to highlight and address staff shortages. It is vital for the successful operation of schools and for the continuity of quality teaching and learning that schools be properly staffed.

Principal members acknowledged with appreciation the IEU’s survey to reps and principals (read article) about the staffing situation in schools as well as the union’s contribution to the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into Teacher Shortages (read article).

Many principals, school leadership teams and specialist staff are regularly covering classes because of the lack of availability of casual teachers. This means leadership responsibilities are being undertaken out of school hours or sometimes added to the workload of other staff. Principals also registed concerns about duty of care if a teacher is supervising several classes at once or if there is library or playground supervision of large groups of students.

Frustration was expressed at the meeting about the delays by Catholic dioceses and Catholic Employment Relations to progress enterprise agreements for systemic principals, teachers and support staff, noting developments in other jurisdictions such as Victoria, Queensland and WA.

In particular, principals argued that there should be no reason not to reach settlement of the IEU’s claim for support staff pay parity with their counterparts in NSW government schools.

IEU Professional Officer Veronica Yewdall provided an update to the meeting on NESA and professional development issues, including the current challenges of registering courses with NESA as accredited PD.

She noted that, ironically, it is now easier to register courses with TQI in the ACT than with NESA in NSW, a complete reversal of the previous situation.

Principals are welcome to contact Veronica about issues in relation to PD and accreditation, as well as in regard to the IEU’s ongoing engagement with the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) for students with disability.

Principals’ Sub Branch welcomed the new Federal Labor Government's engagement with the education sector, including with the IEU about teacher shortages, early childhood, and social justice and equity issues.

The IEU has already met with Education Minister Jason Clare (read article) and with Early Childhood Education Minister Anne Aly (read article).

Through the ACTU and other input, the IEU has also contributed its perspective to the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit to be held on 1-2 September, noting concerns such as job security, pay equity for early childhood teachers and for support staff, and improvements to the industrial relations system.

The Term 4 IEU Principals’ Sub Branch meeting will be held at the IEU’s Parramatta office and via Zoom on Saturday 5 November. The union also looks forward to opportunities to meet with principals at diocesan or sector levels.

Pam Smith
Assistant Secretary/Principals’ Organiser