Australian Primary Principals Day: Letter from a Principal
On Australian Primary Principals Day, the IEU takes a moment to acknowledge our members who are Principals, their dedication and the contribution they make to school communities. We recently heard from the Principal of a big primary school in the Greater Sydney Area. This Principal expressed great concern for staff and disappointment in the NSW Government and its lack of consultation with teachers. Here is the Principal's letter to us ...
I am the principal of a large Primary School in Greater Western Sydney.
I am really concerned about the wellbeing and mental health of my staff. When we were first involved in online learning last year it was always apparent that there would be an end point.
That end point is now very unclear and has added a serious dimension to the uncertainty and pressure related to how I as a teacher deal with my own isolation; my family's safety; my own health concerns; my ability to learn new technologies and deliver effective learning to students.
We are very well supported by our governing body who are conscious of our concerns and have responded with the support needed by Principals, but they are hamstrung by the government directives.
As a Principal I am dismayed at the lack of acknowledgement by the Government for teachers across NSW. We don't seem to be clearly identified as frontline workers. The attitude appears to be that children don't get or transmit this disease – which we now know is untrue.
It is unclear if teachers have been prioritised for vaccination. Some have been able to register but many haven't been able to. There is unprecedented pressure on teachers.
As a leader of a community, I am currently responding to a significant number of parents in regards to: too much work being given to their children; not enough work; not wanting to pay school fees; being really stressed about learning generally; wanting to send their children to school even though they are not essential workers; some very aggressive and unreasonable demands and some very reasonable requests and concerns.
As a leader of a school, I am tired! – from trying to support learning; placate parents; support teachers; coordinate leadership and prioritise wellbeing.
Teachers didn't sign up for the current teaching/learning climate. Even a compromise position of allowing them to work from 9 to 12 each day or four days instead of five – something that removes some of the pressure for children, parents and teachers.