Schools Sharing strength and knowledge

As we begin another year, I want to acknowledge the incredible work of PCA members in what have been challenging times for principals and assistant principals – and to thank you in advance for the work you will do in 2024.

Last year, principals were dealing with significant staff shortages across the state. It was amazing to see the innovative ways that school leaders, with support from their staff, kept the doors open and continued to foster educational opportunities for their students.

It was due to your collective voice that the AEU was able to make a case to the department on the urgent need for more efficient ways of getting staff into your schools, culminating in changes to teacher recruitment, allowing applicants to fast-track the selection process.

Unfortunately, one of the negative effects of workforce shortages has been the impact on principal health and wellbeing. It was, therefore, pleasing to see the VAGO report and its audit of the department’s Principal Health and Wellbeing initiative. The focus and recommendations of the report are outlined below.

Key reason 1: Principal workload 

On average, principals report working 55 hours per week during school term – 17 hours above their standard hours. 

Key reason 2: Outcomes not improving

Most of the initiatives are intended to reduce workload, but they primarily focus on increasing efficiency rather than cutting the amount of work. 

Key reason 3: Inadequate monitoring and reporting 

The department also needs to better monitor, evaluate, and report on health and wellbeing so it understands if its initiatives are achieving their desired outcomes. 

AEU’s recommendations

To address these issues, we made three recommendations to the department about further reducing principal workload; and better monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on principal health and wellbeing outcomes. The AEU will work to ensure that the department not only accepts the recommendations but also puts them into practice. 

Thank you to all those PCA members who contributed to the following:

  1. Principal emotional labour: Longitudinal study in partnership with Monash University.
  2. Implementation of TIL and sharing those models of implementation with each other. Also, for feedback that allowed the AEU to get the department to streamline the acquittal process and changes to delegations.
  3. Part-time/flexible work for school leaders.
  4. Campaigning for the Voice and for school funding.

As we now turn to 2024, it is important that school leaders continue supporting each other collectively to achieve and consolidate gains and improvements.

Thank you and farewell, David Adamson

Finally, I would like to say a fond farewell to David Adamson, who retired in 2023. David has been the Chair of our PCA executive advisory body for several years, represented principals in VGSA negotiations for many agreements, and has been a long-serving educator, principal and fierce and committed AEU member. We thank him for his service and wish him well.

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