Remunerate, recognise and retain: Independent schools step up

Your union has recently been conducting a campaign in independent schools for recognition of increased workloads and the rising cost of living.

Independent schools are currently approaching the end of the third year of their four-year MEA (expiry January 2025), and the pay rises agreed for the MEA in late 2021 (3.28%, 2.28% & 2.53% next year) were considered reasonable at the time, but have since proved to be inadequate in the light of the spike in inflation over the last year or so.

IEU Council endorsed a plan to lobby (and if need be, pressure) AIS schools into giving some additional cost-of-living payments, over and above those in the MEA. A NewsExtra went out in May calling for a 1% one-off payment of salary (OOPS), or other arrangement as the Chapter might feel is appropriate.

Pleasingly, some schools stepped up and have done the right thing by their staff by making some moves to rectify the shortcomings of the 2021 MEA. These include the 17 schools of the Anglican Schools Corporation, who paid a 1% payment to all staff earlier in the year. Since then, several other schools have followed suit, including:

  • Al Faisal College (three campuses) – $1000 payment to all staff (teachers and SAO)
  • Al Zahra – 1% additional salary
  • Central Coast Grammar School – 2 x OOPS payment, 1% in February, 0.5% in June
  • Elouera Special School – Increases in salary in 2023 and 2024, amounting to a total of 3.5% in each year (roughly 2.2% over MEA in total)
  • Emanuel School – OOPS payment of 1.5% in July
  • Kincoppal – introduced over-MEA of 1% for the first time in 2022
  • Knox Grammar (all campuses) – Increased salaries by 3% in 2023, 0.72% above MEA
  • Malek Fahd (3 campuses) – 1% OOPS in June
  • Orana Steiner School – paid 3.98% in 2023, about 1.7% above MEA
  • Radford College – 1% salary increase for teachers over MEA paid in February
  • Stella Maris, Manly – 1% additional into salary, and
  • William Clarke College – 1% salary increase in both June and October 2023.

The IEU commends these schools for recognising the work and commitment of their staff and the cost-of-living concerns they have raised.

Unfortunately, most independent schools continue to sit on their hands and hide behind the MEA settlement. Members in independent schools should contact their Organiser to discuss how best to put pressure on your school to not only step up but keep up with schools in other sectors.

Agreeing to make payments like these would not only benefit staff, but also the schools themselves, given the well-documented staffing shortages that are being reported across all schools. Business as usual will no longer cut it, and staff are making their voices heard by going elsewhere.

The union is calling upon schools to ‘remunerate, recognise and retain’.

Kendall Warren and Lubna Haddad