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One in three principals now experience violence

Australian principals are burnt out and embroiled in conflict, yet somehow still love their jobs. This was revealed in the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education's seventh annual Australian Principals Health and Wellbeing Survey Report, released today.

To date, around half of all principals have contributed to the surveys, whose reports collectively paint an alarming picture of school management. This year, violence against principals, or threats thereof, is worse than ever. Principals are now 8.4 times more likely to be assaulted than a member of the general population.

Other major report findings included:

  • Similar to previous years, around 27 per cent of principals work more than 61 hours per week. This has been shown to adversely affect health, including mental health, and also limits productivity
  • Key sources of stress include the quantity of work and a lack of time to teach and learn
  • Almost half of principals experience threats of violence. One in three experience actual violence. These rates have risen dramatically over the years, as has the rate of adult-on-adult bullying
  • Salaries have consistently risen, and now average $131,000 per year. Women are paid $5,000 less than men, on average
  • Principals are more satisfied with their jobs than the average person, yet their wellbeing is lower than that of the average person

Associate Professor Philip Riley from Australian Catholic University, who is also a registered psychologist, oversaw the project and authored the report. A former school principal, he is also well-placed to reflect on the data personally. Education Review asked him to do just that, as well as explain it and its consequences in further detail.

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