Concerns with new principal classification structure

Gary Zadkovich
Deputy President

Some principals question school complexities link to salary

Federation continues to field concerns about the introduction of the new principal classification structure in 2016.

This new structure determines principal salary rates by the amount of money allocated to the school budget via the Resource Allocation Model (RAM). It is based on an assumption that the budget provides a valid measure of the complexity of the school and the work value of the principal role.

How did the new structure originate?

The Department’s rationale for insisting on the inclusion of a new structure in negotiations for the current salaries and conditions award was outlined in the Deputy Director-General’s Memorandum to Principals on November 12, 2013:

“Principals have been seeking a classification and salary structure based on school complexity for over five years. This initiative was announced as part of the Department’s Local Schools, Local Decisions reform.”

While some principals may have initially sought this approach, others continue to express concerns about it.

Federation opposes Local Schools, Local Decisions because it is a structural change designed by the NSW Treasury to reduce the number of support personnel employed across the Department. Its purpose is to force the Department of Education to meet the destructive ‘efficiency’ targets imposed each year by Treasury and the Department of Finance.

However, while the administrative and support positions are being reduced each year to meet these annual targets, the work these public servants did still remains. Local Schools, Local Decisions is the marketing term used to hide the fact that principals and school staff at the local level will be forced to pick up the administrative workload which will only increase over time.

NSW public schools are facing some of the greatest challenges educators have ever faced, with high expectations to deliver, but at a time in our history when the Department has the lowest level of non-school based staffing to support schools. This is the deceit behind Local Schools, Local Decisions.

Federation opposes a principal classification structure based on school budgets because principals are educational leaders and their role extends beyond financial management. Federation argues that the complexity of schools would be better addressed by providing additional executive release time, as well as more teaching and support staff.

How is the new structure being implemented?

Beyond concerns with the concept, there are major difficulties in developing a methodology for implementing the new structure that is demonstrably objective, explicable and transparent.

Rather than reflect inherent objective criteria, the new structure is determined by adjusting classification thresholds and then setting them to generate a particular distribution of salaries.

The end result is determined more by the pool of additional funding available than by a valid measure of school complexity. This provides further grounds for Federation to pursue a return to a student enrolment based methodology in the next salaries and conditions award.

A better approach?

The new structure will be in place for 2016. Its future beyond that will be determined in negotiations for the next award.

Federation will be finalising its claim for this award at the 2016 Annual Conference (July 3–5).

All members in principal positions and those aspiring to school leadership are encouraged to contribute to the union’s democratic processes by

  • communicating views on the new principal classification structure and other matters in the Salaries and Conditions survey to be distributed in term 1 next year; and
  • participating in local teachers association meetings to debate and endorse motions for forwarding to State Council and Annual Conference.