Survey shows workloads and lack of resources driving increased stress for principals

3 December 2015

A new survey has confirmed that high workloads and under-resourcing are leading to higher stress levels for principals, the AEU said today.

The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey released today by Teachers Health Fund found that “sheer quantity of work and lack of time to focus on teaching and learning are the biggest contributors to stress”.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said stressful workloads were clearly linked to under-resourcing of schools and the demands placed on principals and staff.

“We need to continue delivering the full six years of Gonski funding to ensure that schools are funded to a level that ensures principals can provide the educational leadership necessary to meet the needs of all their students.

“The research recommends that governments adopt a whole of government approach to budgets and increase resources to help principals cope with increased workloads. This is what increased Gonski funding is designed to do, and will do if implemented in full.

“Our school system is under-resourced and is relying on principals to compensate by increasing their workloads. Recent research showed that Australia had bigger class sizes and longer teaching hours than the OECD average.

“It is also of major concern that less than 10 per cent of principals believed they were being supported by their employer. State Education Departments must ensure principals are being given the help they need to do their jobs well.”

The research also confirms that principals are exposed to increasing levels of violent and bullying behaviour, and that this contributes to the stress of the job.

Ms Haythorpe said that school systems needed to support principals exposed to violence, and ensure schools had the resources to deliver the educational programs and individual support that students with difficult behaviours needed to ensure their wellbeing and a safe working and learning environment for the entire school.

The Survey findings back up data from the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) from 2013 which found that 80 per cent of principals reported that an inadequate school budget and resources impacts on their effectiveness as a principal, while 79.8 per cent report that high workloads impacted on their effectiveness.

The most recent Staff in Australia’s Schools Survey showed that in 2013 primary principals worked an average of 56 hours per week, and secondary school principals worked an average of 58.5.

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291