PPCR: review must reflect true value of school leaders' role
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 6, 31 August 2018, page no.14
At the heart of the ongoing Promotional Positions Classification Review is the need to recognise the huge changes and burgeoning complexity the roles of school leaders have undergone in the quarter of a century since they were last evaluated, and to ensure that they are fairly remunerated for the value their work provides.
Here two QTU principal members explain what they do, the stresses involved and what they hope to the see emerge from the PPCR.
My key role is to provide strategic direction for the school and to ensure this is being implemented. This means I have oversight across all areas of the school, and that staff are well supported to implement school and departmental priorities. At the same time, I have responsibility to make sure that legislative, departmental and workplace health and safety regulations and guidelines are in place.
I always work a minimum of nine hours per day during the week. Most weeks, I would do at least one night meeting, adding another two to four hours, and many weeks an early morning meeting, adding an hour each time. I protect my weekends, though at times am required to work. I take evening phone calls and calls on the way to work.
It is a very intense and responsible position – and at times lonely. I am aware that I hold the final responsibility in the school, and that when there are major incidents occurring, or the workload is intense for staff, then the pull on me is also stronger. There is no down time from the intensity and no down time from making decisions. Finishing late one night and starting early the next morning is not unusual and it’s tiring. And the workload has certainly increased significantly over time, especially in relation to legal requirements, issues around social media, student mental health, and new departmental expectations around the collection, analysis and use of data. It is a much more intensive and complex environment to work in.
I would like to see the PPCR recognise the immense complexity and intensity of work in schools and the differentiation between different school contexts and different roles. I would also like to see closer alignment with the remuneration of CEOs in other organisations. I listened to a CEO of a non-government business the other day. She manages a staff of 35. I have a staff of over 200 and enrolments of over 2,000.
Executive Principal, Bremer SHS
Previously, as a teaching principal, it was a challenge to balance the dual role of teacher and principal within the hours of the working week. Furthermore, outside of school hours, you are one of the faces of the local community, as well as the representative of your school. Small school leaders are met with complexities that, at times, transcend school size, particularly when you are teaching as well as leading.
Now, in a sole administrator role, my hours at school are contact hours with students, teachers, parents, the P&C association and the community. As instructional leaders, we are in classes throughout each day, walking beside staff in teaching and learning and celebrating student successes. We also have a strong and visible role in the local community and at community events that often take place at night and on weekends. As with all of my principal colleagues, much of my administrative work is done outside of school hours.
Research acknowledges the job demands of school leaders, associated burn out rates and the negative impact on personal health and wellbeing. As a principal with another 30 years ahead in my career, it is important, for longevity in my role, to ensure that I find ways to manage the intensity and responsibility that our position entails and be courageous enough to advocate for initiatives and processes that support sustainability in school leadership roles.
I believe that the PPCR needs to deliver a recognition that, while all leadership roles have a level of complexity, it is not always dependent on the size of the school. It also has to recognise that, at the end of the day, a principal, as the Director General’s local delegate, holds the ultimate accountability within their school. We are accountable for our school and any issues that arise both in and outside of school hours. In essence, principals are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.