SCHOOL LEADER CRISIS
were not working and the Back to Balance report called for more trust, practical support, such as personal assistants for primary school principals, and the winding back of compliance and expectations.
“We can’t keep saying you have to work harder, you have to work longer, you have to do more. There’s nothing left in the tank to do more,” Mr Yarrington said.
“What our results clearly show is that principals love their job but we need to look at changing procedures and policies. “Going around with a clipboard counting how many trees there are on the school, is that the role of the principal? Then you’ve got the other fac- tors of communication, social media, the constant exposure – it’s a fishbowl and everyone has an opinion.”
Queensland Association of State School Principals president Michael Faye said new measures, such as giving mid- size schools money for more part-time deputies, would help, but attracting people to the role was still tough.
“The big challenge we have is the growing problem of deputies who are not keen to take the next step,” he said.
Queensland Secondary Principals’ Association president Andrew Pierpoint said the mental health of high school leaders was so critical, it had just set up a psychological service. In the first month, the service was used by eight school leaders, one of whom has since resigned, Mr Pierpoint said.
He said while mental health was a major issue, conditions, workload and societal expectations all contributed.
“We have a lack of people applying for principalships right across the board ... and going forward, I can’t see that improving greatly,” he said.
“I know plenty of principals who work 70 hours a week, and in principal-land, every week is the same. The increased expectations on principals ... make it very complex and challenging.”
Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said a public awareness campaign was needed to address aggression against school leaders.
He said that for the first time in 25 years, the union was also reviewing principals’ remuneration and work value leading up to new enterprise bargaining in 2019.
DEEP END: Principals Karen Pearce of Marian Catholic School in Townsville, and Zoe Stewart of St Patrick’s in Mitchell; (left) APPA chief Dennis Yarrington. Pictures: Jamie Hanson