New Zealand Secondary Principals and School Leaders

The New Zealand Secondary Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey is establishing longitudinal evidence about the relationship between secondary school principals’ work and their health, safety and wellbeing.

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The survey has consistently shown that most school leaders are satisfied with their work but face long working hours, heavy workplace demands and stress as a result of their workloads. Secondary school leaders report experiencing significant emotional, cognitive and other work-related demands at work. School leaders report regularly experiencing burnout, sleeping troubles and stress

This research has highlighted the need to improve principals working lives through the provision of:

  • improved school resources to support the work practices of principals and deputy principals
  • professional support
  • a review into workloads and work practices
  • an investigation into occupational violence and aggression in schools

Evidence from the New Zealand secondary Principal and school leaders Survey has been used to guide education policy in New Zealand.

Key Issues for New Zealand Principals and School Leaders

98.7% of principals worked upwards of 40 hours per week – over half of all school leaders surveyed reported working more than 50 hours a week. 27% reported working upwards of 60 hours per week

82.2% of principals reported working more than 50 hours per week. A large proportion reported working more than 55 hours a week (59.9%) and around 30.4% reported working more than 60 hours per week. Only 4.5% of school leaders reported working less than 45 hours per week (see Figure 3.1)

The greatest source of stress for secondary principals and deputies/assistants is the sheer quantity of work, closely followed by a lack of time to focus on teaching and learning.

Burnout, Sleeping Troubles and Stress

Approximately one third of school leaders experienced bullying and almost a quarter experienced threats of violence in the last 12 months of their work