Policy last updated

15 August 2023


  • Schools

August 2023



The Department of Education (the department) supports flexible work options for principals and recognises the importance of flexible work arrangements in maintaining a diverse, adaptive and high-performing workforce.

A principal may use flexible work arrangements to help balance work and life or family commitments. Requests for flexible work will be considered case by case taking into account broader department policy, legislative requirements and the needs of both the principal and the school. Approval processes will depend on the flexible work option; these are set out in the policy and guidelines tab.

Contact information

Policy and Guidelines

Policy and Guidelines

These guidelines contain the following chapters:

  • Flexible work options
  • School governance
  • Flexible work for school leaders funding

School governance

School governance

There are a number of considerations that are unique to the role of the principal that must be taken into account when considering a flexible work arrangement.

Principals have a clear set of accountabilities which distinguish their work from other employees in the Teaching Service and the education community. The principal is accountable for the overall leadership, management and development of the school within state-wide guidelines and government policies, and exercises powers of the Secretary of the department under delegation. The principal is accountable for management of the school at all times, including responding to critical incidents outside of hours.

It is critical that responsibilities for school governance issues, including decisions about budget and resourcing, are clearly documented and understood by the relevant approver when considering a flexible work arrangement.

Exercise of delegations


The co-principal agreement should include:

  • days of work (separate and/or shared)
  • division of accountabilities, responsibilities and duties of the principal role across the week including outside of school hours
  • how the relationship with the school council will be managed
  • how the exercise of delegations will be managed between the co-principals, including how disagreements will be resolved. An example includes seeking the view of the relevant senior education improvement leader where the co-principals are unable to agree.

The co-principal agreement is flexible and can be adjusted to meet the specific flexible work arrangement. The arrangements must be endorsed by the school council and approved by the Deputy Secretary, Schools Regional Services at the time of signing the co-principal contract.

Part-time principals with acting principal arrangement

Under the department’s delegations framework, delegations are exercised by the relevant position – an acting principal may exercise the relevant delegations on the day that they are acting.

The acting and substantive principals should have a clear understanding and agreement about decision-making and the acting principal should work with the substantive principal to ensure that any exercise of delegation is consistent with the expectations of the substantive principal.

Performance and progression


For the purposes of performance review and progression co-principals should have a common professional development plan.

The regional director is permitted to consider performance of co-principals against the common professional development plan on an individual basis.

Part time

For the purposes of performance review and progression, principals and acting principals will be assessed against the requirements of their substantive role and will only receive progression on their substantive position. Any duties completed as part of an acting arrangement may be considered as part of the acting principal’s professional development. The substantive principal retains the accountability for the successful operation of the school.

Flexible work options

Flexible work options

There are 2 main options for principals to work flexibly:

  • part time: a time fraction less than 1.0 FTE
  • co-principals (job-share): 2 individuals share the principal position as the substantive occupants of the role.

Under this policy the principal role can be greater than 1.0 FTE where an approved flexible work arrangement is in place and the relevant approver is satisfied that the arrangement meets the needs of the school.

These options, including the relevant application and approval processes, are outlined in greater detail below.


Under this arrangement, 2 individuals share the principal position as the substantive occupants of the role.

Application process

As co-principals are both substantively appointed to the principal role, co-principal arrangements can only be created as a result of a competitive recruitment process.

Where 2 candidates wish to apply for co-principalship they must submit a joint application as part of the recruitment process and will be considered as a ‘package’.

The shared application should include a proposal for how accountabilities, duties and the exercise of delegations will be shared between the partners.

As outlined in the Principal Selection policy and the Teaching Service delegations (PDF)External Link , where the school council’s selection panel recommends an applicant for a principal vacancy, the selection report must be submitted to the Deputy Secretary, Schools Regional Services for consideration as the Secretary’s delegate. The selection panel should be satisfied that the proposed arrangement will meet the requirements of the principal role when recommending co-principal applicants.

If successful, both appointees must have a clear agreement about how the role and responsibilities will be shared. This agreement is documented in the ‘co-principals’ template contract of employment, which must be approved and signed by the Deputy Secretary, Schools Regional Services. As noted above, the co-principals have applied as a ‘package’ and the selection panel should not consider the applicants separately to ensure a merit-based process for any other applicants.

If a substantive principal wishes to be appointed as a co-principal with a job share partner, they must formally vacate their substantive role to allow for a competitive recruitment process to take place. This is to ensure that the principles of merit are upheld. A principal who is already substantively appointed to a principal role may wish to consider part-time arrangements, outlined below.

Other considerations

It is expected that co-principals will have a shared work-day where this is possible within the resources available to the school. A shared work-day enables handover between co-principals, fostering a common understanding of issues at the school.

Practically, this option may be most suitable for leaders who propose to work a time fraction that is less than 0.8 FTE, for example where the role is split 50/50 or 60/40.

Part time

A substantive principal may wish to reduce their time fraction to less than 1.0 FTE.

Under the department’s Part-time Employment policy, any reduction in time fraction is permanent. Nothing precludes a principal and the regional director agreeing, at the time of the reduction, or at a later time, to a future dated time fraction increase and this agreement must be in writing (having the effect of a time-limited time fraction reduction).

Application process

Principals applying for part time must use the relevant request forms available on the Flexible Work policy page, for submission to the regional director.

Options for working part-time include a time fraction reduction, or using accrued leave (such as long-service leave) on a regular basis to reduce the number of hours or days worked per fortnight.

The flexible work application must address how considerations such as the exercise of delegations and/or the completion of other duties will be managed on the principal’s non-work day/s.

It is expected that the part-time principal will have an acting principal arrangement to cover any normal school hours that fall on their non-attendance day.

The regional director should consult with the school council president on the proposal.

Acting arrangements

An acting principal may be appointed through an internal or external expression of interest (EOI) process, in accordance with the department’s Higher Duties – Teaching Service policy.

Under the Higher Duties – Teaching Service policy, an EOI process is required for assignments of greater than 3 months.

The Deputy Secretary, Schools Regional Services, may approve the payment of higher duties in circumstances where the employee does not otherwise meet the requirements of the Higher Duties – Teaching Service policy (for example, where higher duties are not undertaken for 5 consecutive days). For information about this process contact:

Under the Flexible Work for Principals policy, higher duties for an acting principal should be limited to 12 months per EOI process.

Alternatively, where another member of the school leadership team (for example, an assistant principal) is assigned as the acting principal on the principal’s non-attendance day the substantive principal may approve a range review for the relevant employee to take into account the increased duties undertaken on the principal’s non-attendance day.

Other considerations

Practically, this option is most suited to a principal wishing to work 0.8 or 0.9 FTE and can be established at any time during the principal’s contract.

Principals considering part-time work should seek independent financial advice about the potential impact that these arrangements may have on their personal financial position.

Declining a request on reasonable business grounds

The regional director may decline a request to work part time on reasonable business grounds.

Reasonable business grounds for refusal of a flexible work arrangement may include that:

  • the arrangement cannot be accommodated within the resources available to the school
  • there is no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees (for example, an assistant principal) to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the principal
  • it is impractical to change the working arrangements of other employees, or recruit new employees, to accommodate the new working arrangements requested by the employee
  • the new working arrangements requested by the principal would be likely to result in a significant loss in efficiency or productivity.

For more information about reasonable business grounds refer to: Flexible Work.

Flexible work for school leaders funding

Flexible work for school leaders funding

2025 program

The Flexible work for schools leaders program has been extended for 2025. To register your school’s early interest in a grant for 2025, please fill in this survey: Register your interestExternal Link . We will be in touch with you once the formal application process is open.

2024 program

Funding is available in 2024 to support school leaders in a job-share or part-time arrangement.

The funding will allow participating school leaders to have a cross-over day with their job-share partner or will support a new or increased part-time arrangement within a school’s leadership team. This initiative aims to reduce administrative burden on school leaders by providing additional leadership support and promoting work-life balance.

All educational leaders are eligible for funding, including principals, assistant principals, learning specialists and leading teachers.

Available funding

Under this initiative, the Department of Education will provide funding of 0.2 FTE of a salary of a school leader in an eligible flexible work arrangement. Up to 200 grants are available in 2024.

Schools can make multiple applications for funding. We are aiming to ensure that a diverse range of schools are able to access this initiative and submitting an application does not guarantee funding.

Multiple rounds of funding may be offered depending on availability.

Funding is available for up to 12 months. Schools that wish to continue flexible work arrangements for leaders after this time will need to fund this from their existing budget and may require school council approval.

Eligible arrangements

The following arrangements are eligible for funding:

  • new part time leadership role
  • increased time fraction for an existing part time role
  • job-share, where a substantive leader reduces to part time with a higher-duties backfill
  • co-principal job-share, where 2 substantive principals are appointed through a merit-based selection process to share a role.
    **Please note that funding under this initiative is only available for 12 months and school council agreement will be required if you wish to fund a co-principal arrangement for the balance of the principal contract.

Application process

The principal for the relevant school should submit the EOI form confirming that:

  • the funding will be applied to an eligible part time or job-share arrangement
  • the proposal will result in an increase to their school’s leadership profile.

To register your interest in funding during the 2024 school year or for any questions please contact

Please note that submitting an expression of interest for funding is separate from a flexible work application made under this Flexible Work for Principals policy or the Flexible Work policy (for non-principal school leaders).

If you receive funding under this initiative, your staff member will still need to complete a flexible work application (or in the case of a principal, your regional director will need to approve your arrangement).

For any questions please contact



There are currently no resources for this topic.

Reviewed 14 August 2023