Kyogle teachers fire first shot in jobs row

KYOGLE High School teachers walked off the job yesterday as their school became one of the first in NSW to fall foul of new teacher recruitment rules.

The teachers stopped work for 15 minutes over concerns they and the Kyogle community would not get a proper say in the recruitment of a new principal.

The former principal, Selwyn Nix, left the school on May 2 after being promoted to a position in the Department of Education.

The department has removed teachers from the selection board when interviewing new principals and head teachers.

It is a move the NSW Teachers' Federation says is disempowering and disheartening.

"It gives the department more power over the selection of staff," Nicole Major, the federation's North Coast organiser, said.

"Teachers are upset they have no say in the appointment of executive positions.

"It takes an awful lot of involvement away from the school community."

Previously, teachers were part of the interview process with other representatives, including a P&C member, a principal and a member of the multicultural community, determined by the background of the schools' students.

Kyogle High School teacher and federation representative, Marg Brace, said the teachers were concerned about who would fill the role.

"We need someone who understands the school community," she said. "Many of the teachers have been here for years. Their children went to school here.

"The principal leads the school, but teachers all work together."

Ms Major said that the department was given the opportunity to resolve matters before action took place.

"DET has been presented with a draft staffing agreement, but they walked away from the table," she said.

A spokesman for the department said the new position fell under the new standards.

"Under the new staffing procedures, the selection panel for a principal's position comprises a school education director, another principal, the Parents and Citizens' Association representative and, as appropriate, a representative of the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group or ethnic community," he said.

Teachers are also worried about changes to the transfer system that could see staff who have worked hard under the points system lose their status.

"We have a prac student here at the moment who has worked towards a targeted grad," said Ms Brace, meaning that she studied with the aim to be placed in a specialised area.

"Her marks and hard work won't matter under the transfer system."

Teachers are finding that the changes to the staffing systems are already having an effect.

"We want to raise the morale in staff," Ms Brace said. "They will be happier to have representation."

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