Midway through this term, the AEU National Principal Committee met to share their state and territory-based challenges and plans for the transition back to on-site learning. It was an important meeting, which highlighted common challenges that leaders have overcome by working collectively and collaboratively with staff and colleagues in their networks.
The meeting highlighted four examples of school leaders stepping up to support national efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that students across Australia continued to have access to high-quality learning.
Firstly, across Australia, principals have gone to enormous lengths to support vulnerable students and their families. For example, in the Northern Territory, WA and Queensland, principals have managed community-level lockdowns in accordance with the relevant Biosecurity Acts.
In Victoria, principals have arranged for the delivery of computers, school books, breakfast and lunch to families across the state. They have deployed staff to visit vulnerable families and ran on-site programs for students in unsafe living arrangements.
Secondly, principals have used a broad range of technical, human and cultural leadership skills to ensure that everyone in their school community can be safe.
Principals across Australia have led a generational change in education provision, deploying existing and new resources to successfully transition learning from on-site to online and back again.
In NSW, where students have gradually returned to school this term, principals have constructed complex provisional timetables to ensure that students and staff can practice social distancing.
In Victoria, AEU principals have used the OHS Act to highlight required controls – from PPE to hazard elimination.
Thirdly, principals have absorbed and diffused significant community anxiety about a wide range of education, health and economic concerns. They have deflected politicised criticism from media and politicians and calmed anxious parents, who have targeted schools and school staff with their own frustrations about the pandemic.
Finally, principals across Australia have led a generational change in education provision, deploying existing and new resources to successfully transition learning from on-site to online and back again.
Public school leaders have ensured that in spite of the overwhelming disruption caused by the coronavirus, all students continued to have access to quality teaching and learning.