Managing principal vacancies

The principal class structure reflects the Department's commitment to excellence in educational leadership and management as a key factor in school improvement. The key leadership responsibilities include:

  • the provision of quality educational programs and improved student outcomes,
  • a focus on developing self and others, and on building collective leadership capacity,
  • the development of effective partnerships with the broader community, other schools, key stakeholders and the Department’s central and regional offices,
  • the maintenance of efficient and equitable resources that support the school’s strategic intent, and
  • compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements, and Departmental policy and procedures


Unless otherwise approved, to be classified as a principal position the following 3 criteria must be met:

  • responsibility for the delivery of a comprehensive curriculum,
  • responsibility to a community through governance of a school council, and
  • responsibility for the management of financial and human resources

Principal positions are classified within 1 classification level with 5 remuneration ranges. The remuneration range for each principal position is determined by the Department, based on the school's Student Resource Package (SRP).

Principals have a clear set of accountabilities that distinguishes their work from other employees of the teaching service and the education community. These accountabilities are set out in detail in the contract of employment.

Legislative framework

Education and Training Reform Act 2006

Selection to an advertised principal position is determined solely on the basis of merit assessed in relation to the selection criteria for the position. Principal selection is managed under section 2.4.6 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 which states:

  1. in the case of a vacancy in the position of principal in a school, the Secretary must, in accordance with any Ministerial Order, take into account the recommendation of the school council of the school or, if there is no school council, the recommendation of a committee approved by the Minister as representing the local community, when deciding to employ to fill the vacancy
  2. in making a recommendation for the purposes of sub-section (1), the school council or committee (as the case may be) must proceed in the manner determined by Ministerial Order

Ministerial Order 1006 provides the selection framework for filling principal vacancies and specifies grounds for review in addition to the grounds set out in section 2.4.54(2) of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. The Order contains the following 3 schedules:

  • Schedule 1 of Ministerial Order 1006 specifies the composition of the selection panel and selection criteria for an advertised principal vacancy in a school with a school council
  • Schedule 2 of Ministerial Order 1006 specifies the composition of the selection panel and selection criteria for an advertised principal vacancy in a new school or an established school where there is no school council
  • Schedule 3 of Ministerial Order 1006 sets out the procedures to be followed by a principal selection panel in making a recommendation for an advertised principal vacancy

Public Administration Act 2004

Part 2 of the Public Administration Act 2004 establishes public sector values and employment principles to be applied by all Victorian public sector bodies. The employment principles underpin employment processes which apply to the Victorian public sector, which includes employees in the teaching service. Information regarding the employment principles, standards and associated guidelines is available on Victorian Public Sector Employment Principles and Standards on the Schools Policy and Advisory Library.

Other relevant legislation

A range of other laws may be relevant to recruitment and selection processes, including laws related to privacy, health records, misleading and deceptive conduct and equal opportunity. Further information regarding equal opportunity laws is set out in the chapter Selection.

Selection criteria

Selection criteria are designed to help make the most accurate match between the requirements of a position and the skills of an applicant. 6 selection criteria have been developed based on the professional practices in the Standard. In addition, a community criterion may be included. School councils are encouraged to include a criterion informed by the specific context and leadership needs of the school.

The selection criteria are as follows, with the first 6 criteria being mandatory.

Vision and values

Demonstrated capacity to create a shared vision, define and gain acceptance of school goals and set and communicate expectations for effective performance.

Teaching and learning

Demonstrated ability to manage the quality of teaching and create a positive culture of challenge, support and collaboration.

Improvement, innovation and change

Demonstrated capacity to produce and implement clear, evidence-based improvement plans and policies and lead innovation and change.


Demonstrated capacity to ensure that the school’s human, physical and financial resources are efficiently allocated and managed.


Demonstrated capacity to create a professional learning community that is focused on the continuous improvement of teaching and learning, supporting all staff to achieve high standards and commitment to their own learning and wellbeing.


Demonstrated capacity to develop positive relationships with students, parents, families and the local community and participate in and contribute to system-level activities.

Community criterion (optional)

The addition of a community criterion provides an opportunity for the school council (or committee if there is no school council) to frame a criterion informed by the specific context and leadership needs of the school.


To be eligible for employment, transfer or promotion as a principal a person must:

  • have provisional or full registration from the Victorian Institute of Teaching (the Institute) and;
  • be four year trained.

In addition, and unless otherwise determined by the Secretary, to be eligible for appointment as a principal a person must either:

Further information on the VAPA requirement can be found on the Victorian Aspiring Principal Assessment program webpage

In addition, a person who graduated from a Victorian Initial Teacher Education program after 1 July 2016, must also demonstrate that they have passed the literacy and numeracy test for initial teacher education (LANTITE) requirements (This condition is satisfied where the LANTITE requirement is part of the Victorian Initial Teacher Education program completed by the person).

Employment, transfer or promotion to a principal position requires a person to be 4 year trained and have provisional or full registration from the Victorian Institute of TeachingExternal Link .

The Secretary (or delegate) may also require particular qualifications and, or training for a specific position or class of positions. To date, the Secretary (or delegate) has determined that, unless otherwise approved in any particular case, applicants for principal positions of special schools and special development schools must hold an approved special education qualification relevant to the position.

If particular qualifications are required for a position, these will be included in the advertisement for that position.

This chapter of the Principal Selection Guidelines is about managing principal role vacancies

Reviewed 19 May 2022

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