Schools Taking it to another dimension: ES range reviews

Left to right: Amanda Allan and Rochellee Plumb. Photo: Supplied

Amanda Allan, an education support member at Murrumbeena Primary School, had been thinking about a range review for a few years. “I am in a library network group, and a first aid network group. Talking to so many people at different levels, no one did the same role as me.” While her role was increasing in workload and value, there was no corresponding increase in remuneration.

Amanda turned to what she refers to as her ‘bible’. “When I looked up the AEU’s VGSA 2022 Implementation Guide, I could see that my role included a lot of Level 3 tasks. I then emailed Chellee, my principal, with these tasks highlighted, and asked for my range to be reviewed.”

She says she “felt bad” about the timing, given it was near the end of the year, but it turned out to be fine. Amanda had also heard stories from other ES members whose requests were knocked back. “So, I wasn’t overly confident, but I was pleasantly surprised,” she says. “Upon returning to work this year, Chellee approved my range review. This made me feel valued and respected by the school. I also felt listened to.“

“I felt my role was increasing in workload, and more value was getting put onto my role.”

Amanda Allan

Initially, Amanda had been nervous about the process and the degree of paperwork involved. “When I looked into it, I realised it wasn’t difficult. And I am very lucky that I have a very proactive principal.” 

Together, Amanda and Rochellee had previously done AEU training on ‘Understanding and Implementing ES Entitlements’, which helped them both understand the varied roles of ES members.

“Chellee is very much by the book, so she goes through the processes exactly as it should be, which is great,” Amanda says. “And she is very supportive of ES staff – she knows our wages aren’t great and she values us and tries to help us out as much as she can.”

“It’s up to the employee to go back to their roles and responsibilities, and if they are working outside them, speak to the principal.”

Rochellee Plumb

Principal Rochellee Plumb is matter of fact about the process. “Whenever I don’t know something, I go to the Policy and Advisory Library,” Rochellee says. “Policies guide everything I do. So, when Amanda approached me, she had sent an email with her request, and she had created a document that outlined the tasks she does and showed why they warranted a different range.

“I looked at the ‘dimensions of work’ for ES staff and the differences between Range 1, 2 and 3. Then I compared her roles and responsibilities, and read the overall statement, and thought, yes, she should be in Range 3. Amanda does oversee areas, she’s responsible for budgets, she operates independently without supervision – so we moved her to Range 3.”

Rochellee believes having clearly documented roles and responsibilities is essential, so that principals can compare and align these tasks to each range, and so that the employee knows what they are employed to do.

“Schools are busy places and sometimes people take on extra things and it can build up. It’s up to the employee to go back to their roles and responsibilities, and if they are working outside them, speak to the principal.”

It was important to Amanda that none of her existing roles and responsibilities be taken away. “I absolutely love my job. I am very passionate about all aspects of my work – the library and first aid.”

Her advice to any education support member contemplating a range review is to do your homework. “Have evidence that you do these tasks within your role, and go to your principal with that, so the principal doesn’t have to do all the groundwork.”

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