Supporting the independent education community

Another voice for you

Being a principal requires enormous resilience and self awareness and not everyone is prepared when they take on the role, so having as many resources both professional and social to draw on is useful and may end up saving your life!


Retired principal Rob Laidler recommends principals join the Union to access “another narrative” which can help them navigate the minefields of principalship.


Laidler was the first lay principal at Loyola Senior High School and Trade Training Centre, Mt Druitt.  Rob taught in Mt Druitt from 1999 until his retirement in 2014. Prior to his time in Mt Druitt Rob spent time working at the NSW Board of Studies and CEO Parramatta.


“I always felt the greatest challenge in teaching was to make a difference and the best place for me to do so was in systemic schools in Western Sydney,” Laidler said.


“People have preconceived notions about Mt Druitt, largely incorrect. It’s a great community where like all parents they want the best for their children. It was the highlight of my professional career” 


“The trouble is the people of 'the Druitt' don’t have a head start. They don’t have the social capital others do, and this should be a big issue in education. We have to make sure people with less social capital can advance, and Catholic education has always been about that-a vehicle of social mobility.”


Rob knows the challenges and stresses of principalship, having had a heart attack at work in 2014.


He urges principals to take care of their well being and their bodies and be alert to their own mental state.


He said belonging to the Union, and any other professional body that can offer advice and professional companionship, and advocate on behalf of principals, was crucial. Rob has been an IEU member for more than 30 years and was a school rep, a member of IEU Council and Branch president.


“The Union is good at treating people’s issues with sensitivity and always provides good advice- irrespective of a members stage of career,” he said.


As a retired member he still regularly attends principals’ sub branch meetings and enjoys hearing about what is happening across the state.


In recent years Rob has also worked part time for Catholic Association of Secondary Principals (Aust) that also has an emphasis on principal collaboration, wellbeing and advocacy.


He said with so many non educators having a voice in education, it was important teachers and principals join the union to make their voices heard.