A BRIEF HISTORY of WAFSAA
Some two years ago, senior school administrators met at Warrick Senior High School addressing the lack of genuine consultation and disempowerment of school leaders in strategic decision making and systemic policy development. Administrators were not getting the representation they wanted from either the Department and the Teachers Union. With the on coming education reform agenda demanding greater local flexibility and a shift in decision making from the centre to the school also comes additional responsibilities and accountability for school leaders from increasing degrees of self management. Such a massive systemic change must have ownership at all levels. This was the much needed cultural change sought by administrators from the outset. As experienced elsewhere, school administrators are central to the reform program. Hence the need for a real, independent say in determining direction and implementation strategies was critical.
The outcome of that meeting was a commitment to develop a legitimate partnership with the Education Department of WA (EDWA) which guaranteed and enhanced a proactive role for administrators and their schools in shaping the direction of education in this state. School administrators had to stand up and demand their rightful role, not just as school leaders, but also leaders of the system with the ability to bring together school based and system wide experience. Central to our plans was the need to ensure reform was appropriate and manageable, as well as building upon current good practice. What administrators did not want was the stress and grief experienced interstate and internationally where change was precipitous and unmanageable. The challenge for school leaders was to either become part of the road or part of the steam roller. Administrators chose the latter in attempting to shape the direction and rate of change.
The collective forum which evolved from this meeting became the WA Principals Federation (WAPF). This Federation was to be later renamed the West Australian Federation for School Administrator Associations. The forum was to be the vehicle for professional associations to collectively promote their needs and objectives. These decisions were made prior to the current industrial dispute. It was not until later that the Federation agenda was hijacked by industrial issues, arising out of a need to guarantee administratorsí partnership in systemic decision making.
School leaders gave a clear mandate for their associations, and hence the Federation to explore all options in developing independent representation of administrators by administrators. The Collective Workplace Agreement for School Administrators became the recognised vehicle to deliver this independence and to legitimise the partnership. From the outset an offer was made to the SSTUWA to support this position for a sizeable section of its members, and to broker the outcome of independent negotiations with the employer. The SSTUWA denied this request and through its policy platform, has condemned such action. As a consequence Associations have acted independently as negotiators and brokers in accordance with the authority bestowed upon them, by their members.
The result of these negotiations has realised a Collective Workplace Agreement in which administrators:
The Federation will commit to the protection and integrity of the parties, objectives and targets within the Agreement. This includes numerous representative "Task Forces" to develop policy, process, implementation and monitoring strategies for reform throughout its duration. Also the Federation will commit to planning for the next period of negotiation.
The Federation will also continue to negotiate resourcing from EDWA to protect the option for administrators to continue to opt for a Collective Workplace Agreement.
This Agreement represents an historic landmark for school administrators and the Education Department. It will ensure systemic debate involves district and school forums. Administrators will be charged with the challenge of empowering their staffs and communities in understanding and shaping the future of the system and their schools. In all this, Administrators must be forward looking and student focused.