The leadership crisis in education: new survey

The results of a new survey have found that nearly half of new primary school principals intend on leaving their role in the next five years.

On Monday 12 June, an Educational Leadership Crisis Summit was held in Wellington, where NZEI Te Riu Roa released the troubling results of their latest Principal Sentiment Snapshot survey.  

The summit aims to address longstanding issues with staff recruitment and retention in the sector, which are starkly highlighted by key findings of the union’s survey. The report received responses from 629 schools, which represents around a third of primary principals.  

Read the Term 2 edition of School News HERE

The survey found that half of new principals – defined as principals in their first or second year in the role – planned on leaving their job within the next five years.  

None of the principals who responded said they felt well supported. More than 90 percent of respondents said they felt “not particularly well” or “poorly” supported.  

Only 9 percent of principals felt supports were appropriate.  

Almost 80 percent said their role was “difficult” or “impossible” to manage given the staffing and resourcing available, and 93 percent said that the demands of the role had increased in the past 10 years.  

Of the results, NZEI Te Riu Roa President Mark Potter said “Principals find their work hugely rewarding… but it’s clear that New Zealand has an imminent problem with a shortage of school leadership. Even new leaders in the profession are facing burn out and ultimately, it’s the children who will suffer if we can’t attract people to the role retain them.”  

Respondents to the survey said more teaching staff, more management staffing and increased access to specialists for children with additional needs would make the biggest difference to their perceptions of the job.  

Commenting to Stuff, Jane Corcoran, principcal of Brunswick School, said she wasn’t surprised as resourcing and systems for principals were “archaic”.  

“Over the decades, the system hasn’t kept up with the change in conditions and the school environment.  

Principals just don’t have the resources to do the job as well as they want to.” 

The survey and summit come as negotiations for primary and area school principals continue in the background.  

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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