Health and Wellbeing Survey shows that principals are still doing it tough

Last year we ran an article in the Territory Educator relating to the declining health and wellbeing of principals and assistant principals (see attached article below). Sadly the latest results from the 2017 data indicate the employment demands on principals continue to be unsustainable. The recommendations remain unchanged from 2016 as the working conditions of school leaders on which they were derived have remained stable or deteriorated slightly during the previous 12 months.

In the Territory, we believe this could be linked to the use of executive contracts resulting in a loss of working conditions for our principals. Things such as loss of permanency, stand down time between terms, increasing compliance measures, longer working hours and threats of violence all contribute to the stress and burnout of people working in these roles. The NT Department of Education have acknowledged this issue and together with the NT Principals’ Association have developed a Framework for Principal Wellbeing. 

One early initiative is to provide grants for school leaders to support their wellbeing. However as ACU Associate Professor of educational leadership Philip Riley, the chief investigator on the survey, said of the results:

“When you have one in five principals showing serious signs of distress then we have a systemic problem, not an individual problem,” Dr Riley said. “They’re paying a very heavy toll in terms of their general health and certainly on their mental health.”