Wins in the VGSA 2022 change the way principal class work is defined and allocated. In the coming months, the department will engage with PCA members as it develops a new ‘Schedule B’, or position description, for principals. Assistant principal members are already pushing for similar reforms to their contacts.
A new career structure that creates a 5% salary gap between classification levels will also incentivise learning, development and leadership ambition among school leaders. Even more significantly, a new workload clause in the VGSA 2022 directs DET leaders and the Minister for Education to consult with principals and the AEU when they plan to introduce new work. The revised clause 12(16) outlines what that consultation should look like:
Consistent with clause 12(3), where the Employer proposes to introduce a change that may impact the workload required of principals, the Employer will consult with principals and their union(s) about that change, and its impact on workload and give consideration to matters raised by principals and their union(s) prior to the decision to implement any change.
For the purpose of consultation under subclause (16)(a) the employer will provide the relevant employees and their union(s) with information, in writing, about the nature of the change and the expected effects of the change on the employees and their workload.
This term, principals attending union meetings have been encouraged to understand this clause and pursue opportunities to educate DET regional leaders on its importance in supporting principal’s OHS and for building recruitment and retention.
The union has written to the Secretary of the Department about principal workload related to implementing the VGSA. We will also hold DET leaders to account as they plan new school-based interventions that rely on principal class labour. In short, the clause puts a handbrake on unregulated and inadequately planned directives.
In terms of the wider school workforce, PCA members have a significant role working with consultative committees to implement new entitlements that deliver a living wage and career progression for ES staff, and reduced workload and unpaid labour for teachers. The VGSA 2022 could play an important role in addressing the current school workforce supply and retention issues.