The 2015 Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety & Well-being Survey Report, released today, has called for a national conversation to address escalating stress and offensive behaviour facing our principals.
The report found that 41% of principals have experienced threats of violence and 36% experienced some form of bullying.
Parents were the worst offenders making up 42% of reported bullying and 41% of threats towards principals.
Alarmingly, the report also revealed that more than one-in-three principals experience actual violence, eight times that experienced by the general population, with students the most common perpetrators (77% of reported violence).
Report author, associate professor Philip Riley from the Australian Catholic University (ACU), said the report – now in its fifth year – was showing “a consistent escalation of offensive behaviour that can no longer be ignored”.
“Many of the results are not only of serious concern for the profession as a whole, but also the wider community. As an example of the toll that issues like this can take, this year’s survey saw double the rate of ‘red flags’ compared with last year,” he said.
“These ‘red flags’ appear when a principal’s responses show cause for concern and that intervention may be required.”
However, the report showed some encouraging data around principals’ work-life balance and job satisfaction.
The report found a decrease (55% - 39%) of principals working more than 25 hours per week in school holiday periods from 2011 to 2015. In addition, the increasing rate of job satisfaction was also significantly higher than the general population.
Riley said now was the time for parents and students to stop the offensive behaviour and for the education community and government to “resist the quick fixes and focus on the long term”.
“Most importantly, it’s time to start a national conversation at all levels to address the issues head-on,” Riley said.
2015 Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety & Well-being Survey Report – Key national findings:
- 36% (1 in 3) of principals reported being bullied
- 41% (2 in 5) of principals reported threats of violence
- 31% (1 in 3) of principals reported actual physical violence
- Burnout is 1.6 times higher for principals than the average population
- Stress is 1.7 times higher for principals than the average population
- Job satisfaction amongst principals has risen steadily since 2011 and is now 1.1 times higher for principals than the average population
- Self-efficacy amongst principals has risen steadily since 2011 and is now 1.1 times higher for principals than the average population
*Below is a table comparing 2014's data with the most recent report.
The Educator will be covering the report in-depth in subsequent newsletters.