The Australian Education Union Victorian Branch says the alarming findings of the Victorian Auditor-General’s report are a warning sign that urgent measures need to be taken to avoid principal burnout and a mass exodus from the profession.
The report shows that despite the Department introducing a range of important initiatives to tackle principal health and wellbeing, principal workloads remain a critical problem, causing ongoing harm.
AEU Victorian Branch President Meredith Peace said the situation is particularly severe in Victoria’s public schools, where principals are dealing with dire teacher shortages and don’t have the support and resources required to provide the support and programs students need, due to the lack of full and fair funding.
“Workloads for Victorian public school principals have been unmanageable for many years, and the role and expectations of principals is entirely unsustainable.
“The chronic teacher shortage in our state, on top of existing workload and other challenges, has forced principals to shoulder additional teaching and administrative responsibilities, pushing them to the brink of burnout and quitting the profession.
“In a survey we conducted with Victorian public school principals last year, almost 90 per cent of the respondents were concerned about not having teachers in front of classrooms in 2023. This fear has, unfortunately, materialised in many cases and is still not being adequately addressed.
“The Victorian Auditor General’s report on Principal health and wellbeing has only confirmed what we have been hearing from our members on a regular basis.
“Increasing attrition rates and falling numbers of applicants for principal positions, sends a stark message that public school principals in Victoria need far greater support to continue doing the valuable work they do.
“The Andrews’ Government must urgently tackle the teacher and principal shortage in public schools through more comprehensive and targeted measures. This includes efforts to attract new teachers and retain existing staff in the profession through a range of incentives and further reduce their workloads.
“The chronic underfunding of public education in Victoria not only has had dire consequences for public school principals and their staff, but it also risks impacting students’ educational outcomes.
“We urge the Andrews’ government to deliver the bold reforms that are needed urgently to relieve principal and teacher workload, and to attract and retain enough qualified teachers. Further delay will only exacerbate an already critical problem.”