Principals under pressure as employers fail to act
Australian principals are struggling under excessive workloads and increasingly placed at risk of violence, according to survey findings released today.
The latest Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing survey found the two key stressors for principals were workload pressures and a lack of time to focus on teaching and learning.
Long-term findings of the annual survey also identified threats of violence as a significant concern, with the number of principals experiencing such threats rising from 28% in 2011 to 45% in 2018.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said the survey findings were reflective of a need to restructure the nature of school leadership and free principals from their administrative workload.
“The shocking findings released today are sadly consistent with those reported in recent years,” Mr Burke said.
“Workload intensification has long been identified as an issue in teaching generally and those in leadership positions are clearly not immune to these pressures.”
Mr Burke said the current unmanageable workloads of principals distracted from teaching and learning and that new models of leadership must now be explored.
“Fundamentally, employers have not seized the opportunity to restructure principal roles, particularly in terms of administrative burden, which is diverting principals from their key focus on teaching and learning,” Mr Burke said.
Mr Burke said the threats of violence were particularly harmful to wellbeing, given nearly half of Australian principals are currently exposed to these threats.
“It is unacceptable for any employee to be physically attacked or threatened while carrying out their duties,” Mr Burke said.
“While it is not always possible to control the source of threats and intimidation, employers must develop systems that protect employees from physical attacks and put in place adequate support mechanisms to manage threats when they occur.”
Mr Burke said it was well-established that the role of principal comes with a level of workplace pressure and stress but that this did not abrogate employers of their responsibility to employees.
“Employers have a significant response to make; clearly they can and should be doing more to support principals in dealing with the unique challenges of their role.
“Without adequate employer intervention, principals will continue to suffer and, as a result, so too will our broader school communities.”