May 25, 2020

Are principals masochists?

The annual Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey results for 2019 were released recently and once again, Australian principals have put on a brave face despite overwhelming data suggesting that their lot at work is extremely arduous when compared with the world of work elsewhere in the country.

One can only hold admiration for the optimism, altruism and perseverance of principals when reading of their glowing assessments of their job satisfaction, work commitment and meaning compared with the general population.

On the flip side however, their positivity is challenged by the documentation of the extreme extra pressures experienced by principals associated with work-family conflict, demands for hiding emotions, burnout, sleeping troubles, workplace stress and threats of  violence when compared with the general population.

And what is particularly concerning for the welfare of principals is that the 2019 report identifies that ten of the top nineteen sources of principal stress are at an all-time high when compared with all other annual reports that have been published since the survey’s inception in 2011.

In the 2019 report, principals identify quantity of work, lack of time to focus on teaching and learning and student mental health as their main sources of stress.

The 2019 Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey is a comprehensive document produced as an Australian Research Council Project and published by the Australian Catholic University Institute for Positive Psychology and Education.

This report should be compulsory reading for all Australian principals and their school boards; the 2019 survey (and all reports since 2011) can be downloaded at .

The report contains four recommendations in relation to how principals can improve their working conditions. These recommendations include improving their wellbeing through additional professional support and a review of their work practices.

The Principal’s Concierge service supports principals in both areas. The EducateCo team can provide support via phone, online or face to face in schools.