Supporting the independent education community

Media release: Return to school - Let’s all play by the same rules

The IEU rejects today’s call by the Association of Independent Schools (the organisation representing independent schools) for principals of these schools to have the autonomy to determine their own COVID arrangements for students returning to classrooms. 

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

“Schools are already operating under detailed guidelines that apply to all school sectors, and the union does not support independent schools being able to develop their own approach, even if it is within broad Department of Health parameters,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.


In the face of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, key decisions about the health and safety of students and staff should not be left to individual principals of independent schools – they are not health experts.”


There have already been COVID cases in independent schools in NSW and other states. Just one case in a school can have a catastrophic impact on staff, students and their families.


The IEU has today called an emergency meeting of union representatives in Greater Sydney independent schools at 4pm to consider this latest development. The meeting aims to endorse the following positions: 

  1. All schools should follow a consistent approach to the attendance of students and staff that does not vary depending on the school sector.
  2. The safety of students and staff must take utmost priority, and health-related decisions should not be left up to individual principals. Other school sectors and other sectors of the economy are operating under strict, consistent guidelines and there is no reason independent schools should be exempt.
  3. Teachers and other school staff must be prioritised for vaccinations before schools re-open to students.

The IEU calls upon the NSW Government to work closely with the union when making significant operational decisions regarding non-government schools.