Increasing workloads and lack of resources are having dangerous impacts on Tasmanian principals’ health and wellbeing, national research shows.

The greatest cause of stress for principals and assistant principals is sheer quantity of work, closely followed by the lack of time to focus on teaching and learning, says the *Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey 2014.

Report author Associate Professor Philip Riley, from the Australian Catholic University, said the leading cause of stress for principals and deputy principals was workload and that was severely damaging their health.

“What is clear is that the level of demand is dangerous to the long-term health and wellbeing of principals who find consistently that the resources available to them do not match demands,” said Professor Philip Riley.

“When job demands are very high, they need to be balanced with significant resources to buffer the demands and this is not happening,” said Prof Riley.

“Principals and assistant principals suffer levels of stress, burnout, and sleeping difficulties at nearly double the rate of the general population. Long hours also take a toll on their personal lives with work-family conflict occurring at double the rate of the general population.”

“This level of chronic stress does significant long-term harm to health. We know this from the more than 100 epidemiological studies conducted in the UK since the late 1960s. More worrying is that younger principals are at increased risk compared to their older colleagues.”

Terry Polglase, AEU Tasmanian Branch President, said the level of stress and illness experienced by our principals was extremely disturbing and should ring alarm bells for the Tasmanian government.

“Schools need more, not less, resources to enable our highly dedicated principals and assistant principals to not only do their jobs effectively but to maintain their health and wellbeing,” said Terry Polglase.

“Premier Will Hodgman promised to not sack teachers and to invest in education but so far all we’ve seen is cuts and broken promises and this is to the detriment of staff wellbeing in schools and student learning,” said Mr Polglase.

“Lack of time to focus on teaching and student learning was identified as a major cause of stress for principals and that should be of major concern for a Premier who has taken resources away from principals.”

“Premier Hodgman must reverse the cuts and reinvest in education if he is to safeguard the wellbeing of all educators and provide the learning environment in which our students can thrive.”

Professor Philip Riley is presenting his research at functions in Hobart, Burnie, Devonport and Launceston. His research and visit is sponsored by Teachers Health Fund and supported by the AEU Tasmanian Branch.

*Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey 2014 was conducted by the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University (ACU), included 2,621 principals and 1,024 assistant principals from primary and secondary schools across urban, suburban, large towns, rural and remote locations from around the country.
Terry Polglase, AEU Tasmanian Branch President