Western Teacher : Volume 44.1 January 2015
WESTERN TEACHER 10 VIEW THE SURVEY AT HTTP://WWW.PRINCIPALHEALTH.ORG/AU/INDEX.PHP has captured over 3600, or just over a quarter, of Australian school leaders. While the 2014 survey found job positivity and satisfaction amongst school leaders high, stress was a big issue. “Principals experience high levels of emotional demands and emotional labour when compared to the general population,” Dr Riley wrote. “This is correlated by higher levels of burnout and stress symptoms (difficulty sleeping, somatic symptoms). “The greatest source of stress for all principals and deputies/assistants in every state and every sector is the sheer quantity of work, closely followed by a lack of time to focus on teaching and learning.” In light of this, Dr Riley recommended the establishment of regular professional support networks for school leaders; professional learning to address emotional stress and a review of the principals’ job demands. The well-being survey followed an Australian Council for Educational Research report in November 2014 that revealed a lack of resources was a big concern for school leaders. According to ACER’s Australian Teachers and the Learning Environment report, over 80 per cent of Australian principals said poor resourcing was hurting educational outcomes at their schools. Over a third of School Leaders surveyed also reported teacher The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey, released in December last year, revealed the incidence of adult- adult bullying, threats of violence and actual violent episodes to be up to seven times higher than the rate in the general population. Almost 42 per cent of WA survey respondents reported a threat of violence in 2013, up from 38.7 per cent in 2012, while almost a third reported physical violence and/or adult bullying last year. Survey author Dr Philip Riley, from the Australian Catholic University, recommended that the proposed authority interview parents, students and teachers in its role. The body, independent of schools and government, was given the task of investigating occupational risk to school leaders, teachers and students; governance structures and methods of protecting school leaders. “The consequences of offensive behaviour in schools is likely to become costly for employers, through time lost to ill-health, OH&S claims against employers’ responsibility for not providing a safe working environment and reduced functioning while at work,” Dr Riley wrote. “The investment in such a taskforce may prove to be the least expensive option in relation to this issue.” The survey, sponsored in 2014 by Teachers Health Fund, has been conducted annually since 2011 and shortages in special needs trained teachers, while 27 per cent said they had a shortage of vocational education teachers. AEU deputy federal president Correna Haythorpe said the report was a reminder to the Abbott Government about the importance of full Gonski funding. “ Principals on the frontline know that the one thing which could make an immediate difference to their school is resources for extra staff or support programs to help students,” Ms Haythorpe said. “ Their main concern is trying to stretch their budgets to give their students the best education possible. They also cite workloads as a major concern, showing the lack of support they are currently receiving.” Ms Haythorpe added that ensuring children were taught by properly qualified-teachers was important to the quality of their education. REPORT CALLS FOR PRINCIPAL HEALTH REVIEW BODY An independent authority to investigate the increasing amount of violence towards school leaders is one of the main recommendations of a recent report into the well-being of school principals.
Volume 44.2 February 2015
Volume 43.9 November 2014