Being a leader in education is one of the most vulnerable professions there is. Almost every policy and procedure that we are required to adhere to has some legality attached to it. As a Principal you can have responsibility for a the education and wellbeing of the students, the employment, development and duty of care of the staff, the operation of the school and the management and maintenance of the facilities, a multi-million dollar budget, with all the accountability and obligation that goes with it. If you or one of your staff does not strictly follow policy and procedures, you may face allegations of conflict of interest or misuse of funds.
“The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person, in many areas of public life, including: employment, education, getting or using services, renting or buying a house or unit, and accessing public places, because of their disability.”
Along with the risks of managing students with disability, OHS is another challenge for leaders who are increasingly targets of litigation arising out of staff or student illness arising from bullying or environmental issues.
No wonder there are diminishing applications for school leadership with an endless list of vulnerabilities in day to day work, limited support and low salary differential.
The APF has experienced record numbers of members facing complaints and investigations over the past 5 years, including matters from Speak UP, IBAC and Ombudsman investigations.
Staff complaints about Principals, particularly in their implementation of the Education State goals, are also at an all-time high. Sometimes this leads to a complaint to the Merit Protection Board (MPB) to challenge a decision or appointment. The APF supports members in the preparation for their appearance, advocating for them at the hearing. A number of the complaints are vexatious, vindictive and strategic designed to unseat the Principal Class in the school. The APF work with members to support them, by attending meetings with them and assisting in the development of the responses to the allegations they face.
Members who move to Workcover as a result of their work, are monitored and assisted through the process if challenges arise.
In a broader sense we offer support, advice and counselling in matters of school operation, staffing, planning etc. We advocate on your behalf on all matters as they evolve in consultation with DET at Central and Regional levels.