Editorial: Promoting principal pay 

The working group to review the classification structure for school leaders and others in promotional positions - one of the key outcomes of the last round of enterprise bargaining - has started work.

The process is due to be completed by December 2018, so that new pay levels associated with the classification structure can be negotiated in the next round of enterprise bargaining.

The Union expects double digit salary increases as a result of the review.
The last such review in the late 1980s and early 1990s took four years to complete. The two-year timeframe for this review is ambitious but realistic.

QTU consultation

QTU Executive has endorsed a process for consultation with QTU members starting this term. The consultation will involve face-to-face meetings, teleconferences and videoconferences, and the QTU website.

This consultation will be ongoing throughout the review process, and particularly at important junctures.

The task at hand

Some members have commented on how long the review will take. The objective is to take around 5,000 people, employed across the state, in workplaces varying in size from 3,000 students down to 10, with roles varying from principal to numerous types of head of department or curriculum, and to establish fair relativities between those roles, and assign them to a new classification structure with levels and boundaries that work for the department and the government and is fair for employees, both in transition and, substantially, for the next decade at least.

In the last review, the instrument for assessing relativities was a given: the Cullen Egan and Dell job evaluation system (which has since come to be known as JEMS), which was then being rolled-out across the Queensland public service. The review’s first question is whether to retain the current system, adopt and adapt another (either off the shelf or from interstate), or to create one.

A task of this scale cannot be completed in the timeframe of enterprise bargaining negotiations. Hence, the length of the review.

Some of the issues

At the top of the scale, the largest schools at the time of the last review were around 2,000 students. Now they are well over 3,000. The Union sought a second level of executive principal to reflect this. Its rejection identifies the issue of overlap between principal positions and senior positions within the department and the public service more broadly. There is a notional ceiling that will only be broken by a different conception of the role and status of a principal.

At the bottom end of the scale, the teaching principal in a one teacher school is the accountable officer in the school, small though it may be. The classification structure was split into school leader and head of program streams to reflect that, but only to the extent of a differential pay increase. What should be the relativity of a small school principal with other promotional positions?

To what extent should resources be a factor in assigning relativities, given the historical differences between sectors? The level of resources is clearly a factor in management complexity. Should it be as dominant as it is in the current system? What importance do we assign to “soft skills” as opposed to resources managed in the teaching profession?

The bands for head of program positions (with the exception of SEPs) were assigned on the basis of the average (mode for the purist mathematicians) of the evaluations. Should these positions be classified individually and is there an efficient and fair way to do so?

How do we reflect the relative complexities of the student population? In NSW, the allocation system and classification system are built around the Gonski factors of student need. Is complexity of the student population reflected, as currently, only in the evaluation of the principal, or more broadly?

From the employer’s perspective, is the job evaluation system efficient to run? How do we attract and retain teachers to promotional positions in difficult-to-staff schools? Is that part of the salary structure or a function of an incentives scheme?

What the review is not

Expectations have already been raised with the Union that are simply outside the scope of the review. For example, it will not deal with allocations of positions to schools. The out-of-scope suggestions will nevertheless be collected for other processes.

Nor will the review deal with issues of wellbeing, except incidentally. The Union is very conscious of the findings of Dr Philip Riley in the Principal Health and Wellbeing survey, and will be pursuing those issues separately. The frequency with which a job burns out its occupant has no place in a job evaluation system.

The review task is complex. It is a major priority for the Union, reflected in the resources we are devoting and will devote to it. Make sure you contribute in the on-going process of testing, initially ideas, and then models as the review proceeds.

Graham Moloney
General Secretary

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 3, 14 April 2017, p5