Post-primary schools face shortage of principals – Irish Independent

Post-primary schools face shortage of principals – Irish Independent Online

Katherine Donnelly

High stress less levels were cited as a major issue for those in the job, in research published by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD).

The study analysed the challenges faced by today’s second-level school leaders and the supports required to carry out their roles.

It found that 48pc of principals and deputy principals experienced “a lot” of stress, 39pc experience moderate stress, while 13pc experienced “a little” stress.

Among the biggest sources of stress were managing employee relations, challenges around recruiting teachers and financial management.

The research found that school leaders’ well-being actually increased every year until they had been in the same role for ten years, at which point it plummeted.

The findings have been published in advance of and NAPD symposium on principal well-being, workload, and work-life balance, taking place next week.

NAPD director Clive Byrne said the role of a modern principal was akin to running a complex business, and school leaders were 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 staff-room 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,” Mr Byrne said.

“The three most important sources of support reported 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 help make the job more attractive.

The myriad of areas identified for leadership development were time management, people management, administrative training, team-building skills, legal and HR skills, marketing and budgetary skills, critical incident management skills, counselling and conflict resolution and GDPR training.