Policy Development and Advocacy

SASSLA develops policy positions on employment matters that reflect the interests and aspirations of our members. We undertake research that is designed to generate discussion and engagement with our members and influence Government and Departmental decision making. Through our work we have moved the employment related conditions of leaders into the foreground of policy thinking.

Our key areas of focus:

SASSLA’s focus is to bring the important employment related issues facing school and preschool leaders to the attention of the Department and Government. We have done the hard work of developing clear and persuasive arguments for change and improvement to School and Preschool Leaders’ employment conditions. Areas where we have been most active include Band A remuneration, improved workload regulation for Preschool Directors, selection and reappointment, and leader workload.

We have further developed our Six Key Employment Priorities until 2025. Click here to view our e-publication which outlines an in-depth analysis into each priority and the wins we have achieved since our initial publication in 2023.

  1. Development and implementation of an improved Band A classification and remuneration structure.
  2. Reduced teaching load for Preschool Directors.
  3. A focused and continuing program of amelioration of workload pressures on Band A and Band B leaders.
  4. Extension of the Workers Compensation Additional Compensation Scheme to the education workforce.
  5. Improved conditions of contract for Band A and Band B leaders.
  6. Review and improvement of recruitment and selection practices for Band A and Band B leaders.

SASSLA and the Principal and Preschool Director Associations will actively participate in the consultation process on development of a policy for Principal and Preschool Director permanency. This presents as a real opportunity for SASSLA and the Associations to influence policy development on this important reform proposal.

The commitment to permanency brings opportunities for positive change which include

  • Certainty for individual employees on their career path and benefits
  • A positive incentive to apply for Band A roles
  • Productivity benefits flowing from the capacity to take a long-term view in a role
  • The defining of principals and preschool directors as a distinctive professional class which creates opportunities for future policy improvement initiatives

A successful implementation of a new policy on Band A permanency will require discussion and consideration of a range of operational matters and systems alignment. To assist this process, SASSLA has developed a discussion paper that identifies and discusses the important operational questions and modifications to work systems that will be required. We believe our work will positively assist and support a constructive consultation process that leads to a consensus on a new policy. The paper can be read here.

This work highlights the way we conduct our business in supporting the interests of Band A and Band B leaders. Our approach is to get on the front foot by assessing opportunities and doing the background work to frame key questions and future options. We have successfully used this approach when improving the workload conditions for Preschool Directors and responding to the Mercer Review of Band A Principal and Preschool Director positions, which remains ongoing.

We will provide regular progress updates on permanency in future editions of our e-News.

Sustaining Leadership: Serving Schools and Students investigates the challenges faced by South Australian public school principals through a nationally scoped literature review research study. Particular focus is drawn upon the demands placed upon public school principals and the sustainability of the leadership profession.

The key findings include;

  1. Increased accountability is driving public school principal decision-making; significantly contributing to a lack of time for principals to build and sustain a positive school community culture.
  2. Extensive responsibilities are overloading and overwhelming public school principals, with substantial energy directed towards data collection, management, and record keeping.
  3. Excessive and unrelenting workloads are leading to principal burnout, stress, fatigue, depression, a lack of time to focus on teaching and learning, and decreased autonomy.

SASSLA recently contributed to the Federal Government’s Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System in the form of a formal submission available to read here. The submission is focused on three areas we see as topical and important to future employment related education policy. These are:

  • The Need for Improved Forecasting of Teacher Supply and Demand.
  • Application of Incentives: Benefits and Risks
  • Reconceptualising the Paraprofessional Workforce

The issues raised with respect to the paraprofessional workforce (SSOs and ECWs) are drawn from a literature review which SASSLA conducted incorporating national and international research. The work of education paraprofessionals is often neglected in national policy and framed in limited understanding. The literature review is available here. An intrastate comparison attached to the submission highlights the disparate models of paraprofessional employment across Australia.

We believe these topic areas are relevant to form a complete understanding of the importance of strategic human resource management in guiding education change and improvement.

SASSLA and SASPA have collaborated on the development of a concept paper titled Reconceptualising the Principal Role.

The purpose of this paper is to present a powerful and persuasive argument that a fresh look at the principal role is urgently needed. Our approach is to surface the key systemic issues relevant to the principal role that are critical to the future success of our public education system.

We have identified four key fields of enquiry that will assist in gaining a bigger picture view of changes needed:

• Responsibility, decision making and accountability of principals.
• The team around the principal.
• Illuminating good practice in the principal role.
• Towards a new generation of school leaders.

Our paper has been developed through extensive engagement and consultation with our members and draws on national reports and research findings. We will continue to develop our thinking and engage with the Department and Principal Associations at a local and national level.

Click here to read our Position Paper on Workload in EB negotiations.

In term 3 2022, SASSLA visited 12 school sites in the Iron Triangle, Riverland, South-East, Mid-North and Kangaroo Island. The focus of our site visits was to gain an appreciation of the issues and pressures facing principals and their leadership teams.

Our work with country principals has enabled us to develop a more complete picture of the working conditions and challenges facing people in these roles. We have developed a summary report based on our observations which we have provided to the Minister and the Department. You can read the report here.

In 2023 SASSLA will continue to work with country leaders in making sure that their interests are understood and actioned.

SASSLA has collaborated with other SA Principal and Preschool Director Associations in 2022 to prepare a joint submission to the Department on changes to classification and remuneration that is needed to positively support public education now and in the future. This is a matter that will be considered in enterprise bargaining negotiations beginning in 2023. Read our submission here.

SASSLA, in collaboration with the Preschool Directors Association, has released two evaluation reports on Preschool Director workload. This work has provided a comprehensive picture of Preschool Director workload to inform policy decisions and future industrial negotiations. These reports can be accessed here: Evaluation Report Part 1 2020, and Evaluation Report Part 2 2021

SASSLA has been active in developing a deeper understanding of the conditions that give rise to excessive leader workload since the initial publication of the Education Leader Workload paper in 2020. Our State Conference, held on 20 May 2022, discussed this topic in detail. Presentation notes from the Conference can be found here. In November 2022, the Chief Executive of SASSLA delivered the keynote address at the Australian Principals Federation Conference in Perth on School Leader Workload.

SASSLA has made a submission to the Federal Government’s Draft National Teacher Workforce Action Plan in which we clearly identify the risks and costs associated with a continuing pattern of excessive workload for school and preschool leaders.

These risks and costs need to be confronted so that we can maintain a strong and vital public education system. The issue of workload must be brought to the foreground of thinking and action. In 2023, SASSLA will advocate for the development of a strategic approach to improve workload conditions for school and preschool leaders.

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