2018 Principals’ Conference

Federation’s 2018 Principals’ Conference aimed to help Principals understand and navigate the changing nature of work in schools. In an opening address, President Maurie Mulheron singled out the Department’s Local Schools, Local Decision policy as the primary driver of increased workload in schools.

“Local Schools, Local Decision is not a good idea implemented badly, it’s a bad idea working exactly as intended,” he said.

Under this policy and a state Treasury directive to deliver a 1.5 per cent “efficiency dividend” each year, hundreds of administrative and support positions had been cut with the workload shifted to schools, Mr. Mulheron said. This resulted in principals being occupied with much more administrative work that took time away from the primary responsibilities of curriculum, teaching and learning, and student wellbeing.

The rest of the conference provided a range of workshops to help principals better address key aspects of their work in schools, including addressing issues of violence and bullying from members of the community, supporting casual and temporary teachers, addressing the challenges facing small schools, and more.

The closing keynote address was delivered by Dr Rachel Wilson of the University of Sydney, who presented a stark outline of the trends in student achievement, and the changes in the academic attainment of graduates entering the teaching profession.

Despite popular narratives in the media, Dr Wilson said, negative trends were consistent across schools, sectors, and sections of society. Whatever the issues, they were widespread, and the thinking and policies that created this situation were not going to be the solution to address it.

“We must interrogate the system data and structures rather than place the blame on schools, teachers, students (and) parents,” Dr Wilson said.

A video of Dr Wilson’s full speech will be made available to members in coming weeks.