A report released today has found that the salaries and systems supports of principals and deputy principals in Western Australian public schools are inadequate and do not equate to those for equivalent roles in other industries and occupations.

The Report, Documenting the Dimensions, is the most comprehensive investigation of these roles ever undertaken within WA, examines the work, contextual complexity and expectations of WA public school leaders. Whilst focusing on the experience in WA the research findings are likely to have nation wide implications.

A Panel of independent experts commissioned by the State School Teachers Union of Western Australia (SSTUWA), including former system heads Fran Hinton (ACT) and Margaret Banks (NT), spent five months talking to over 500 teachers, deputies, principals, parents, community and business leaders about the roles and the expectations of them.

The Australian Institute of Employment Rights (AIER) provided the research team that supported the Inquiry process and drafted the Report that captured the Panel’s findings and recommendations.

Key findings of the Inquiry include:

• The past 20 years have seen change in many, if not all, areas in which schools are expected to operate

• It is remarkable that in the face of constant change, school leaders in Western Australia have kept their focus on leading teaching and learning, to the extent that they have

• It is of concern that school leaders are not being adequately supported to lead the changes that are being required of them in terms of the delivery of quality student opportunities and educational outcomes

• Principals and deputies have welcomed many of the changes, and in particular, their new decision making responsibilities, including the accountability and professional changes they bring

• The ability for the system to attract and retain dedicated skilled school leaders will be central to the success of WA public schools, however their appears to be fewer applicants for these roles and many who were once aspirants have indicated they are turned off from the roles because of lack of system support and access to development opportunities

• Remuneration offered to principals and deputy principals does not match the duties, responsibilities, skills, knowledge, judgement and decision-making and accountability required for the roles.

• Principals and deputy principals are exercising end of line managerial responsibilities for significant operations.

Recommendations for change address four key areas:

– Recognising and clarifying leadership roles and good leadership practice

– Addressing the excessive workload and administrative burden on principals

– Giving more attention to identifying, inducting and developing future leaders

– Reviewing, improving and realigning salary structures including benchmarking these salaries against public sector CEO, non CEO Executive Officer ranges and with CEOs of local government.

The Report captures the voices of principals and deputies across the state at a time when they have indicated that they feel increasingly alienated from the system that is meant to support them.

Lisa Heap
AIER Executive Director

Read the Report

Watch the Report’s release

Watch interviews with the School Leaders’ Inquiry Panel