Supporting the independent education community

Leaders eat last

In his book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek discussed the need for people to feel safe and valued in the organisation they work in, Holy Family Primary School Merewether Beach Principal and IEU Principals Sub Branch member Sidonie Coffey writes.

A leader who cultivates an organisation where people feel safe, cared for, valued and respected, is much more likely to see commitment to their school/ organisation and consequently achieve greater harmony and well being from its members.

The International Labour Organisation cites 48 hours per week as the recommended maximum hours spent working. The medium among principals is 68 plus.

Medical data reveals that working such hours increases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease by 60% with a 30% greater chance of relationship breakdown accompanied by greater use of alcohol and weight gain among men and depression among women.

It is interesting to note that little productive work is done after 50 hours per week. Self assessed health analysis indicates principals have high levels of burnout, stress, sleeping difficulties, depressive symptoms and cognitive stress.

The survey on Principal Wellbeing identified three significant issues facing principals:

  • sheer quantity of work
  • lack of time to focus on leading improvements in teaching and learning, and
  • rapidly increasing mental health needs of students and staff.

Most sources of excessive workload cannot be controlled. Principals want to lead education and teaching yet report no control over other work commitments generated by departmental silos that, at a click of the 'send' button, requires a mass of administrative functions.

Workload for principals and teachers is a huge issue in our schools today.

I urge ALL principal colleagues to work in partnership with the IEU to ensure this issue remains a key priority for system reform. Our Union is the voice of our members.

Without our Union we would not have the working conditions we have today. For those of us who can remember, we'd still be vacuuming our classrooms and emptying bins!

Minor issues in comparison to the demands of our workplace today, however significant in creating a culture of social reform.