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School Leaders Wear Multiple Hats

There is a commonly encountered myth, particularly amongst Catholic Principals and Deputies, that they either cannot or should not belong to the union. Nevertheless we do have a Principal & Deputies sub-branch and from time to time our Principal members do need our industrial assistance and they do get our full support enforcing their industrial rights as employees.

Confusion arises when the IEU supports a teacher or ESO member in advocating against the processes or decision of a Principal who might also be a member. The simplest way to view this is to ask which hat the principal member is wearing. If the Principal is acting as the employer, then s/he will have the support of the CEO or school HR. If the Principal member needs representation against their employing board or the CEO, then they get our full support.

The 2017 Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey is the sixth annual survey showing steadily increasing pressures on school principals and deputies.

The report reveals little is being done by private school employers, Catholic Education Offices or State and Territory Governments to ease the burden school principals are carrying.

Principals are experiencing workplace demands that are 1.5 times higher than the general population. That makes them subject to higher levels of burnout (1.6 times higher), stress symptoms (1.7 times higher), difficulty sleeping (2.2 times higher), and depressive symptoms (1.3 times higher).

Principals and Deputies cannot rely on their employer’s internal legal and pastoral support mechanisms when they are in dispute with the very same employer. They need their union as much as any employee.

This year’s IEU Conference on May 7th will have a break out session specifically for Principals and Deputy Principals with Pam Dettman. In the breakout session Pam will lead a group exploration of issues relating more to the personal and emotional side of leadership experience than to routine matters. Presentation and group discussion of the 2017 Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey will be followed by reference to critical incident effects, leadership mistakes and mistake recovery, and the notion of the ‘wounded leader.’  The session will conclude with consideration of how the Union might help those involved in difficult situations.