Govt cracks down on principals’ travel

Under new rules, school staff will only be allowed to travel overseas if they can prove that the travel has a "direct economic benefit to Victoria," they are representing ministers or the secretary, or the state's reputation "with a significant partner" will be damaged unless they travel.

The department's acting secretary, Kym Peake, emailed principals, school council presidents and business managers last week, warning that travel will only be granted in "exceptional circumstances".

"One of the issues raised during the hearings relates to school-based interstate and international travel as part of staff professional development," Peake told The Age.

"This restriction on international and interstate travel undertaken by department and school staff takes effect immediately for all travel which has not already been approved."

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) recently heard that former Education Department senior official, Nino Napoli, misused thousands of dollars of state school funds to travel overseas.

Photos provided to IBAC showed Napoli and a former colleague, Jeff Rosewarne, enjoying a taxpayer-funded business class trip to London, which included a visit to Buckingham Palace.

Referring to the scandal, Noel Claridge, Eaglehawk Secondary College principal, said the restrictions were an overreaction to "a small number of people doing the wrong thing".

"The vast majority of people in the department have a great deal of integrity and creating additional levels of compliance will only create a much greater workload for principals," Claridge said.

The new restrictions will not apply for staff who accompany students on school camps and sporting trips. Travel that has already been organised will also be allowed.

The IBAC hearings will resume on June 22.