South Australian principals have called for “systemic changes” to the way school leaders are supported in their role, saying the education system risks losing quality leaders if nothing is done.
The South Australian State School Leaders Association (SASSLA), which launched its Leadership Policy Paper on Thursday, outlined several major challenges facing the state’s public education system.
Among them are attracting and retaining high quality candidates for leadership roles and the loss of educational leadership in the system as more time is being directed to compliance and accountability activities.
The Association has urged “systemic changes” to principals’ remuneration structures, professional development strategies, schools’ decision-making policies and the approach to managing the workloads of the state’s public school principals.
“This paper highlights the crucial role that school and preschool leaders have in building and sustaining a high quality public education system,” SASSLA’s chief executive, Phil O’Loughlin, said.
O’Loughlin added that through releasing the paper, SASSLA is providing “a clear voice” for school and preschool leaders to be heard in policy development and enterprise bargaining negotiations.
“The policy paper shines a light on the risks the public education system is facing in attracting and retaining high quality candidates for leadership roles and the loss of educational leadership in the system as more time is being directed to compliance and accountability activities.”
The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Well-being Survey 2017 revealed that in addition to rising workloads, SA principals experienced a 13% increase in physical violence
However, the state’s principals also reported a 3% drop in threats of violence and a 4% drop in bullying incidents.
The lead author of the report, Australian Catholic University (ACU) associate professor, Philip Riley, said the South Australian Education Department has been “very proactive” about becoming “the well-being state”.
“They’re attacking these issues at a ‘whole-of-government’ level – not just in schools,” Riley told The Educator.
However, Peter Mader, South Australian Secondary Principals Association (SASPA) president, said the SA education system is still tasked with the challenge of solving the problem of low supply levels of quality school leaders at a time of high demand.
“[The system] must also commit to inquiry-focused collaborative time for teachers’ professional growth if we are to improve students’ learning and levels of achievement,” Mader told The Educator.