State facing shortage of principals…but why?

by Brett Henebery03 Jul 2015

Schools in Western Australia are in the midst of a principals’ shortage, forcing many already-busy deputies to fulfil the role instead.

Western Australia Primary Principals’ Association (WAPPA) president, Stephen Breen, told The Educator that the shortage may be due to the reluctance of prospective principals to take on workloads that have left many others burnt-out.

“Research led by Dr Philip Riley at the Monash University has shown that principals’ health and wellbeing is suffering as a result of the work pressures,” Breen said, adding that measures need to be taken to make the role more sustainable and attractive to prospective applicants.
“Job demands are increasing, while resources are decreasing. School leaders are doing a fantastic job, however there are strategies that need to be implemented to make the profession sustainable and to make school leadership more attractive.”
Education Department workforce director, Cliff Gillam, told The West Australian it was rare not to find a suitable applicant the first time a job was advertised.

“In a few instances the candidate pool is smaller than we would like, partly because an ageing workforce, which means we are losing more of our experienced principals through retirement,” Gillam said.

Breen said WAPPA has long advocated that mandated training and professional learning should be provided for all principal class officers taking on the role of a level 3 school leader.
“The professional learning should take into consideration the policies and regulations in place and importantly, the change management that is needed to run a complex school,” Breen explained.
“New school leaders need to be confident that they can carry out the role.
“It is important that the accountabilities and workload of the school leader are regularly reviewed so as to ensure their main role is that of an instructional leader. If principals are to have greater accountability, effective resourcing is required to support that.”
WAPPA offers its members professional development and collegiality with the aim of enabling established and aspiring school leaders to build their networks and professional capacity and to share their experience with others.


  • by Darren. 3/07/2015 10:20:33 AM

    The problem is the department of education and the government are throwing more and more into principals and relieving themselves of account abilities and issues. The job is no longer attractive nor is there any incentive. Doing the principalship now is not as rewarding as it once was. As a principal you are no longer a leader of education you are a business manger with minimal support. The younger executive see this and lose interest in the position.

  • by Chris 11/07/2015 10:35:12 AM

    As a Victorian principal, I agree. The job is becoming more and more demanding and there isn't the financial reward. Our salary includes our super contribution yet the classroom teachers who are at the top of their pay scale earn slightly less. The stresses and issues aren't worth it. At 41 (and already being in the Prin class salary for 10 years), I can't imagine doing this job until 65!