As teachers, principals and support staff welcome back students, an Australian Education Union survey of principals has found school staff worked tirelessly over the school holiday period to ensure a positive and settled start to schooling in 2021.

Public school and college principals in Tasmania have reported working up to 15 days during their holidays in January alone, with a variety of pressing and essential tasks.

The main tasks required to be done by principals included recruitment and induction of staff, Professional Learning preparation, school tours and new student interviews, School Business Manager support, vandalism and capital works call outs, timetabling, school improvement plans, leadership team meetings, budgeting and child safety meetings.

“As we welcome back students, families and staff, we know students will have a great day because principals, teachers and school staff have worked through their holidays to prepare for an engaging and smooth start to schooling in 2021,” said Brian Wightman, State Manager of AEU Tasmania.

“Our principal members report working an average of eight days in their January holiday period, closely followed by senior staff, teachers and Education Support Personnel working several full days ahead of their official start date also.”

“The survey only captures the days teachers attend on site and we know many more hours and days of holiday time are sacrificed to make today a great start for our students.”

“We are concerned that one in five principals reported that they were unable to fill all staffing positions ahead of the beginning of Term One and the majority were undertaking recruitment of staff on their own in January.”

Principals reported staffing shortages in specialist areas such as Materials, Design and Technology, Music, Humanities and Social Sciences and other VET specialist subjects.

“Strong advocacy has achieved some recognition for principals, with limited days of Time Off In Lieu for those forced to work in the January break, however structural barriers and workload demands mean many principals are unable to fully access this make-up TOIL.”

“As a former public school principal, I know how demanding and complex the role is and we’ll continue to advocate for school leaders to help retain and attract the best people for the job.”

“Principals are not just leaders in their schools and colleges, they are community leaders, and we need to ensure their conditions reflect their responsibilities, skills and commitment.”

“It’s wonderful to have our classrooms filled with enthusiastic students for day one of 2021, and parents and carers are very grateful for the work teachers, principals and support staff put in to make day one and every other day successful for our students.”