Secondary principals

Find out about the pay, allowances, benefits and other entitlements available to principals employed in secondary schools.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Boards

The rights and responsibilities specified in an employment agreement must be adhered to.

This page supports boards and secondary principals to understand the rights and responsibilities that are associated with their roles, as stated in a principal’s employment agreement.

Employment agreements

Secondary principals in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by the terms and conditions of:

  • the Secondary Principals' Collective Agreement (SPCA), or
  • an individual employment agreement, with similar terms and conditions as the SPCA.

Who's covered by the SPCA

You're covered by the SPCA if:

  • your work is covered by this agreement, and
  • you’re a member of one of the secondary principals’ unions: the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association (NZPPTA) or the Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand (SPANZ).

Secondary Principals' Collective Agreement 2022–2025

Who's covered by the individual employment agreement (IEA)

You need to sign an IEA:

  • if your work is covered by the SPCA, but
  • you're not a member of the NZPPTA or SPANZ.

The Ministry of Education develops and publishes the individual employment agreement. The terms and conditions of your work are similar to the collective agreement.

Secondary Principals' Individual Employment Agreement [PDF, 76 KB]

Your pay

Your pay is made up of several parts:

  • roll-based salary: the more students in your school, the higher your base pay.
  • staffing-based salary: an additional amount based on the number of staff in your school.
  • decile payment: if your school is in deciles 1 to 4 you'll get an addition to your annual pay, or
  • Equity Index payment: if your school is in the top 40% of the index (478 to 569).
  • payment for leadership and realising youth potential:
  • this additional payment recognises the work you do to keep students in school, keep them engaged with learning and help them achieve to their potential.

Tables set out in clause 3.1 of the collective agreement show your salary components and amounts. 

Clause 3.1: Secondary Principals' Collective Agreement

Career structure payment

You can also qualify for a salary increase based on:

  • the number of years you've been a principal, and
  • whether you meet the professional standards.

There are different standards for initial, experienced and leading principals. Your board is responsible for reviewing your performance and confirming that you qualify for the career payment.

Performance management

The criteria for the career payment are as set out in clause 4.3 of the collective agreement. The professional standards are at the end of the agreement.

Clause 4.3: Secondary Principals' Collective Agreement 

Secondary schools high priority principals' allowance

An allowance of $3,000 per annum is paid to principals of secondary schools that the Ministry of Education has identified as needing greater support for recruitment and retention (sometimes called ‘hard to staff’ schools).

High priority principals’ allowance

Professional coaching and wellbeing support

From the beginning of Term 1, 2023 and up to 1 December 2024, secondary principals will be able access funding of up to $6,000 per annum for professional coaching and support for their leadership role.

The funding is timebound to the term of the renewed 2022–2024 Secondary Principals Collective Agreement (SPCA). The purpose of the funding is to ensure secondary principals’ leadership development and wellbeing.

Accessing the funding

The $6,000 in funding will be a line item tagged in secondary schools’ operational funding grants for the purposes of professional coaching and support for secondary principals.

Each school’s use of the funding should be in accordance with its policies relating to professional development and sensitive expenditure. It may be necessary for the principal and the board to agree a new policy for the fund if existing policies do not sufficiently cover the use of the fund.

If required, further advice can be sought from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA). Principals and boards may also wish to refer to the Ministry’s Financial Information for Schools Handbook (FISH) and relevant guidance from the Office of the Auditor General (see links under further reading below).

Advice & support – NZSTA(external link)

Ministry’s Financial Information for Schools Handbook 2023 [DOCX, 1.7 MB]

Choosing your provider(s)

The Ministry of Education recommends that where possible:

  • schools engage providers that are appropriately qualified and accredited, and
  • use of the funding focuses on supporting the principal’s development in their capacity as the chief executive of the school in terms of management and control (that is, management and organisational executive leadership).

The funding complements the annual career allowance already available to secondary principals, as well as other types of professional development funding such as centrally funded PLD relating to curriculum, pedagogy or NCEA and membership in professional groups. The funding may also be relevant to principals’ professional growth cycle (PGC).

The funding is a minimum entitlement and does not prevent principals and their boards agreeing to additional coaching and support in excess of $6,000.

Annual declaration

In addition, principals will be required to make an annual declaration to their boards regarding their uptake and use of the funding.

The declaration shall be made no later than the last day of Term 4 each year. The declaration is both because the board is the principal’s employer and responsible for considering and supporting their wellbeing, but also for audit purposes.

All state and state-integrated schools are funded by public money and the board has ultimate accountability for how this money is spent. As with all spending, principals and their boards should have regard to all-of-government (OAG) procurement rules, follow best practice, seek to achieve public value for money, and avoid any conflicts of interest when choosing how to use their professional coaching funding.

OAG sensitive expenditure guidance(external link)

OAG conflicts of interest guidance(external link)

OAG good practice guide to appropriate public expenditure(external link) 

Clause 4.4: Secondary Principals' Collective Agreement 


Leave entitlements, including annual, sick, parental, bereavement (tangihanga), study, sabbatical and refreshment leave, are set out in part 5 of the collective agreement.

Leave for principals and teachers

Other benefits and entitlements

You’re entitled to a superannuation contribution from your employer.

Superannuation for principals and teachers

If you move schools because you're promoted, or you move to work in a 'hard to staff' school, you may qualify for a transfer and removal payment to help cover your costs.

If you're shifting schools

The Ministry of Education is able to approve different terms or conditions than those in the employment agreements, such as:

  • payments or benefits for taking on extra duties and responsibilities
  • 'sensitive payments' such as work-related Koru Club membership, home phone and internet rental, and limited use of a school vehicle for private purposes.

Special terms or conditions (concurrence)

Leaving your job

If you have a terminal or serious illness that means you can no longer work as a principal, you may be eligible for medical retirement.

Medical retirement for principals and teachers

Both you and your school board must follow the correct processes and procedures to manage your resignation, dismissal or retirement.

Resignation, dismissal or retirement

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