Wellbeing at heart of secondary principals’ collective agreement claim
Cathy Ewing, principal of Nelson College for Girls and member of the negotiating team, says the principals' claim recognises the impact that workload and demands of the pandemic have had, and continue to have, on principals.
“The last three years have been extremely disruptive for school communities - the era before March 2020 seems idyllic in comparison. The lockdowns, the uncertainty around events and activities that are the lifeblood of secondary schools, the rostering home of students and the move to online or hybrid learning, have been very challenging. Principals have gone above and beyond trying to develop new routines and processes to make school life as normal as possible for our ākonga.
“In such challenging times, school communities rely on their leaders to navigate them calmly through all the uncertainty and upheaval, to ensure that all students gain the knowledge, confidence and skills they need to live their best lives. To do the best for their students, principals need to make sure we look after ourselves so we can meet the increasing challenges that come our way every day.
“That’s why we want our new collective agreement to include a wellbeing allowance and a requirement for boards of trustees to develop and review wellbeing plans for principals. This will encourage principals to look after themselves, manage their stress and have a healthier work life balance so they can truly bring their best selves to school every day.”
Cathy Ewing said principals were also claiming an entitlement to leadership supervision or coaching in their collective agreement. “Leadership doesn’t come out of thin air. People need to acquire and grow the skills and attributes that make them effective leaders, and this cannot be done in isolation. The assistance that a supervisor or coach can provide is incredibly valuable.”
“Principals have a unique and fantastic job. No day is the same and the different ways in which young people strive, beat the odds, achieve and excel never ceases to amaze. Principals take our responsibilities for young people’s futures very seriously and we want to ensure that their secondary education gives them the best chances for making their way in the world.
“We need a collective agreement that ensures principals are supported to thrive as leaders of school communities and grow learning, and an agreement that attracts aspiring teachers to become senior leaders.“
Negotiations for the secondary principals’ collective agreement will be carried out by PPTA Te Wehengarua and the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand with the Ministry of Education.