Education support (ES) staff positions are classified according to the Dimensions of Work, Ranges 1 to 6, outlining roles, responsibilities and expectations, and they have seen significant revision in the VGSA 2022.
In light of this, range review requests can be initiated by an ES staff member in writing to their principal, with three possible outcomes: the position is found to be of a higher level and the ES staff member is moved up; the position is found to be of a higher level but the school cannot afford or does not require work at this level and therefore removes the higher level duties from the ES staff member; or the position is found to be correctly classified.
Anabel Herr and Angela Campbell are both representatives from the AEU Business Managers Network. Anabel is an education support member at St Kilda Primary School and she successfully completed a range review last year.
“I wanted it to be clear that I’m here because I should be here, and I deserve the pay rise.”
“I’m doing so much more than I originally signed up for,” says Anabel. “I was a Range 1 Level 4 when I was employed as a business manager, but I was also the sustainability coordinator, so I was already wearing two hats. More and more of the work drifted to me and then the facility manager retired and I took that over too, so I had three hats.”
Soon Anabel found herself managing all of the office and ES staff. “It wasn’t as though the principal asked me directly – it just happened. It grew and grew, and I realised it was so clear I should be classified as a Range 1 Level 5.”
A scientist by training, Anabel is familiar with writing grant applications, and she knew that the best approach would be to write her proposal as if applying for a job, addressing each of the Level 5 work dimensions. In preparing for the conversation with her principal, she decided to take a colleague with her for support.
“I chose the assistant principal because she’s so clear-minded and would give me good feedback. So we came up with a time and I wrote an application, and I sent it to the principal by email.
“I was nervous and then, when I got there, they both looked at me and apologised and said, ‘We should have done this a long time ago’ and moved me up. I have an amazing principal and assistant principal – they’re both great.”
“Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’, especially if you have the support of your union.”
For Anabel, it paid to be prepared. “It’s also good for your psyche. I wanted it to be clear that I’m here because I should be here, and I deserve the pay rise.”
Angela Campbell is the business manager at St Helena Secondary College in Eltham North. She has helped other education support members in her workplace apply for range reviews. Many have great success, and she has plenty of good advice.
“Keep notes of the work that you do over the course of a month because, as education support, we just do things as they land on our desk and the role has become complex,” says Angela.
“ES staff who are getting paid a pittance are asked to do more and more technical work. So, because we do the work without thinking about it, you need to keep notes and then align what you do with the duties in the Dimensions of Work.”
Angela gives the example of an integration aide who was asked to do student enrolments – a task that sits at a higher level. “She requested a higher salary and was knocked back, so my advice was to stop doing the tasks.” There were repercussions but, in the end, she was successful in her range review because there was no one else there to do the work.
“Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’, especially if you have the support of your union,” Angela says, passionately. “ES and business managers must learn to stop saying ‘yes’ to everything that comes across our desks, whether or not it’s in our job description. If we don’t start standing up for ourselves, no one else will.”