Supporting the independent education community

Media Release: Return to school: close consultation is crucial

Friday 27 August 2021

Return to school: close consultation is crucial

The IEU calls for an urgent roundtable with non-government school employers, NSW Health and NSW Department of Education to unpack the complex logistics of the staged return to schools proposed by the NSW Government this morning.

The Independent Education Union of Australia (NSW/ACT Branch) represents over 32,000 teachers and support staff in non-government schools.

“This return to school has been announced by the NSW Government without consultation with teachers and principals in the non-government sector. We know school staff expect the NSW Government to consult with them through their unions during this unprecedented time,” IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam said.

“We call for the NSW Government to urgently establish a roundtable for the independent and Catholic sectors concerning the implementation of the return to school and employees represented by their union must be at the table.” 

Teachers and school staff need immediate clarification of how the HSC is to be run. For example, will all HSC exams still be conducted? How will exams run safely? What contingency plans will be in place if COVID cases rise in a particular Local Government Area?

Teachers and support staff also have countless questions about how the return to school will work whilst ensuring the health and welfare of students is safeguarded. For example, the return of Year 12 students on 25 October will require that about 30 percent of a school’s teaching staff return. Many of these teachers also teach students in other years. Does this mean teaching in a classroom one moment and on Zoom the next? This needs to be addressed carefully.

“The IEU calls for urgent consultation and an orderly approach to implementing the framework set out by the NSW Government in its press conference,” Northam said. “Teachers and support staff are craving a little certainty.” 

The IEU also calls for all non-government school employers (in all 11 Catholic Dioceses and the independent school sector) to align their return to school with the NSW Government’s framework, rather than adopting an ad hoc approach. The union would also like to see the same staggered return of students to school throughout the state, even if stay-at-home orders are lifted for a particular area, as this would assist enormously with planning and the possibility that some students will still want to learn remotely. 

“Finally, the NSW Government has heard our plea that school staff be prioritised for vaccinations so schools can re-open safely and we welcome this initiative,” Northam said


Mark Northam, Secretary, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch, 0427 667 061

Carol Matthews, Deputy Secretary, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch, 0418 272 902

Media: Monica Crouch, 0411 645 751

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch represents over 32,000 teachers, principals and support staff in Catholic and independent schools, early childhood centres and post-secondary colleges.

Authorised by Mark Northam, Branch Secretary, IEUA NSW/ACT