The great debate: principal salaries – public vs private
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 4, 31 May 2019, page no. 14
The recently published salaries of grammar school principals demonstrate that when it comes to salaries, valuing the role of school leaders in the state sector lags behind the independent sector.
In comparing the salary packages of grammar school principals, the contrast is stark. Despite successful EB campaigns that have delivered differential salary outcomes for our school leaders, their salaries continue to fall behind those within other sectors of Queensland and other states.
It can be argued that there are inherent differences between grammar schools and state schools, but these differences are less about where these schools are placed on a league table, post school destinations, OP outcomes or NAPLAN results, and more about the governance, resourcing and funding of these schools etc.
However, these differences are not relied on to explain why grammar school principals are paid more. Instead it is justified on the basis that school boards need to attract and retain the best education leaders to their schools.
These schools describe their principals as:
- highly experienced and dedicated education leaders
- in charge of multimillion-dollar budgets, infrastructure and workforces
- in charge of the welfare and education futures of the young students entrusted to them by families across the state.
Shouldn’t the state government be relying on similar factors in setting its principals’ salaries?
After all, Queensland’s state school principals are also experienced education leaders, who manage significant budgets, facilities and workforces, and have the responsibility of being in charge of the welfare and education of the students from across the state.
As a result of the 2016 EB agreement, the state government recently completed a review of the classification structure for promotional positions. In doing so, it has relied on the current Mercer/CED job evaluation methodology. Regardless of your views on this methodology, it’s clear from this review that the current structure, which was developed in the late 1980s/early 1990s, needs to change, and the salaries for principals and other promotional positions need to change with it.
In determining the worth of a state school principal, three principles should be applied.
1. Industrial: We need a 21st century salary structure that reflects the levels of accountability, responsibility, delegation, legislative requirements etc of the roles. This focus will allow for a comparison of salaries across industries and sectors.
2. Education leadership: our school leaders are not “just” managers but also strategic leaders who mentor, support, consult, empower and build capabilities.
Queensland state schools continue to go from strength to strength because we invest in the development of our teachers and exercise professional autonomy.
Former Isis District High School principal and QTU Trustee Allan Cook explains: “The role of the principal is an incredibly complex amalgam of long-term, thoughtful strategic planning, critical decision-making at an operational level to promote and maintain the confidence of the school community and collaborative, respectful working with the school community to foster positive relationships. This must all come together in providing opportunities for students to learn and achieve the best outcomes of which they are capable; as it has always.”
3. The human factor: Schools are more than bricks and mortar. They are the heart of our communities, and as such our education leaders are not just responsible for the school community, they also need to have a presence in the local community, state education community, national community and international community.
Our school leaders ensure student and teacher safety and wellbeing, they multi-task, they manage crises, they lead student, staff, parent, community engagement, and build connections with businesses within our community.
We expect all three factors from our school leaders, and they should be recognised and valued in the establishment of salaries for school leaders.
If the state government is truly committed to continuing to provide students across the state with a world-class education, in this EB it needs to pay principals a salary that truly values their work and recognises their role in leading schools that deliver this highly regarded system.
Comparison of state school and grammar school principal salaries
|Townsville Grammar School||P-12||1193||206||384,000|
|State sector principal (Band 10)||7-12||1119||147||153,562|
|Rockhampton Grammar School||P-12||1335||261||500,608|
|State sector principal (Band 11)||P-6||1334||152||162,677|
|Rockhampton Girls Grammar School||P-12||281||54||239,311|
|State sector principal (Band 9)||10-12||295||63||145,064|
|State sector principal (Band 7)||P-6||302||38||130,410|
|Toowoomba Grammar School||P-12||1183||149||537,000|
|State sector principal (executive principal)||P-12||2862||299||170,428|
|Ipswich Grammar School||P-12||927||123||493,000|
|Ipswich Girls Grammar School and Junior Grammar School||P-12||828||236||361,722|
|State sector principal (Band 10)||7-12||927||132||153,562|
|Brisbane Grammar School||5-12||1713||240||513,000|
|State sector principal (executive principal)||7-12||1741||214||170,428|
|Brisbane Girls Grammar School||7-12||1367||206||509,326|
|State sector principal (Band 11)||7-12||1393||163||162,677|
*Enrolments and staff as per state school’s annual reports 2017 and grammar school’s annual reports 2018.
** State school salaries are reported as annual salaries only, not as a package.
***Grammar school salaries are reported as a package.