The AEU has lobbied hard to provide fair processes regarding contract renewal for principals.Changes have now been made to the Principal Contract Renewal Guidelines.
The former guidelines meant that principals who had completed two five-year contracts were not eligible to be offered a further renewal of their contract, regardless of how well they were performing (the "10 year rule"). Principals in this situation who wished to continue in their current position were required to apply for the advertised vacancy through the usual merit selection process.
The AEU argued that this was unfair and constituted unnecessary duplication. It created an inconsistent process across the Principal Class as it only applied to principals, not assistant principals, and was not in the interests of our public school system.
The revised guidelines remove the "10 year rule" which means that principals may be offered a renewal of their contract after this time without the position being advertised. Contract renewal at this point is now subject to the same process as renewals prior to 10 years. Prior to the end of the tenure, the Regional Director and the principal are to advise whether:
- It is agreed that the principal's contract berenewed for a further 5 year period;
- It is agreed that the principal's contract berenewed for a period of less than 5 years or
- Contract renewal is not agreed, in which case the contract is not renewed and the position will be advertised and the incumbent may apply for the advertised position.
In addition, there have also been changes to clarify the remuneration range that a principal may be offered through the contract renewal process. If student numbers have decreased to the extent that it lowers the classification level of the position, the principal can still be offered a contract renewal at their existing (higher) level.
The new guidelines also outline the Department's responsibility to provide principals with ongoing feedback and identify the type of support that is to be provided to them throughout the contract period.
The impracticality of DEECD's new guidelines became apparent fairly early on not to mention the inherent injustice of a process which failed to recognise the often impeccable record of long standing principals. The potential loss of quality principals would have been disasterous.