Less than one in three secondary school leaders predict they’ll still be in a leadership role in five years’ time
Research published in advance of NAPD symposium on principal wellbeing, workload, and work-life balance at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 10 March
- School leaders’ wellbeing increases every year until they have been in the same role for ten years, at which point it plummets
- Employee relations, teacher appointments, and financial management are cited as most stressful responsibilities of the job
- Speakers include Tony O’Brien, former HSE director general; Dr Karen Edge, reader in education leadership at University College London; Dr Jolanta Burke, chartered psychologist; and Tony Daly, HR management at Pfizer Ireland
- NAPD director comment: “Late last year, my colleagues and I predicted that the next emergency in education would be a shortage of secondary school principals. Today’s research bears this out.”
Less than one in three secondary school leaders predict they will still be in a leadership role in five years’ time, according to new research published by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD).
The research, conducted among 266 participants, consisting of 150 principals and 106 deputy principals, analysed the challenges faced by today’s secondary school leaders and the supports required to carry out their roles.
The new report, “Wellbeing of Leaders in Post-Primary Schools in Ireland”, was published ahead of the NAPD’s national symposium on school leader wellbeing, workload, and work/life balance, taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel this morning (Tuesday, 10 March).
The symposium will focus on the sustainability of school leadership while also examining the requirement for increased supports and resources.
Sources of stress
According to the research, 48% of principals and deputy principals experience “a lot” of stress, 39% experience moderate stress, while a further 13% cite a little stress.
In addition, the research suggests that school leaders’ wellbeing increases year-on-year until they have been in the same role for 10 years, at which point it plummets.
Among the biggest sources of stress for principals and deputy principals are dealing with people and cultivating positive professional relationships (44%). Other sources of stress include oversight of plant management, external agency engagement, and administrative responsibilities.
The research found that the three most stressful responsibilities are managing employee relations, new teacher and substitute teacher appointments, and financial management.
The three most important sources of support cited were a school leader’s partner or spouse, his or her principal or deputy principal, and the wider school leadership.
The survey found that better distribution of workload, additional administrative support, training and skills enhancement, and improved salaries would all play a role in making the job more attractive.
In addition, the research suggests that the greatest areas for leadership development are:
- Time management
- People management
- Administrative training
- Team-building skills
- Legal and HR skills, including performance management
- Marketing and budgetary skills
- Critical incident management skills
- Counselling and conflict resolution
- GDPR training.
Speaking in advance of the national symposium, Clive Byrne, Director of the NAPD, said:
“Late last year, my colleagues and I predicted that the next emergency in education would be a shortage of secondary school principals. Today’s research bears this out.
“The role of a modern principal is akin to running a complex business, and school leaders are looking for support. They are navigating rapidly growing student populations and evolving student and staff needs without the required parallel government investment or supports.
“By extension, their colleagues in the staffroom see the unrelenting stress, pressure, and psychological strain that comes with the role and decide against pursuing such positions.
“This issue of recruitment and retention of school leaders is only going to become more acute in the years ahead. It’s critical that we look to address the causes of this stress and identify potential solutions and supports, including increased administrative support, training, and skills enhancement, that can help ease the burden on our school leaders and ensure the position continues to attract the best talent and expertise into the future.
“We look forward to engaging with international experts on these at our symposium.”
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