Schools battle principal problems

SOME Northern regional schools are going years on end with no principal being given a permanent position due to public service laws that should be reviewed, according to those in the education sector.

Beaconsfield Primary School had nine principals over nine years before a permanent position was offered in the past year.

Exeter Primary School is understood to have had six principals in six years, Meander four in four and Westbury five in less than four years.

The turnover occurs when one principal takes up another Education Department position and then the  job must be filled by someone else, causing a ``ripple effect'' of staff moving around.

This is compounded by public service laws that deem their positions must remain open for them to return to, essentially creating a holding pattern of uncertainty for schools.

Most principals are also eager to advance their career, so when a better position comes up  they apply for it and move on if successful.

The Examiner  has been contacted by a number of parents and staff from different schools who said they were ``sick of the turnover of principals''.

At one school, they believed the turnover had tarnished their image and parents were moving their children to other public or independent schools.

Tasmanian Principals Association president David Raw said it was a difficult situation for schools to go through, but until the laws were changed he believed the Education Department's hands were tied.

``I understand that communities are collectively wanting some continuation, yet I would suggest the system has to continue to allow the right of people to apply for other jobs, so there is a collision,'' Mr Raw said.

``It is almost time to look at how these processes are employed.''

Mr Raw said the turnover of principals at schools was particularly evident at the moment as many older staff looked to retire.

This point was echoed by Australian Education Union state president Terry Polglase, who added that it was difficult to fill regional and remote positions and suggested that the government could offer a substantial cash bonus or some other incentive  after people complete two years.

Learning Services North general manager Laurie Andrew said there had been very few new positions this year.

Mr Andrew said he didn't believe getting people to sign up to minimum term contracts would work, as these could still be broken. Ultimately it was out of his direct control to change the current procedures.

Former principal Peter Kearney said the government has known about the problem for a long time and had done nothing to fix it.

``It's no use saying they can't fix it. They're the government - it's their job to fix problems.'' 

Mr Kearney said the operation of schools should not fall directly under public service laws.

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