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Principals want to spend more time on educational leadership

Media release: Principals want to spend more time on educational leadership

11am Monday 6 November 2017

Principals of primary and intermediate schools want to spend less time on administration and paperwork, and 75% of them want to spend more time on educational leadership, up from 59% in 2013.

These findings are from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) National Survey of Primary and Intermediate Schools 2016. The results show around two-thirds of principals worked 56 hours or more each week, and 42% reported high or very high stress levels.

Experienced principals, often in larger schools, were less likely to report high stress levels than newer principals who are often in smaller schools. They also seem to have more ability to focus on educational leadership, which may be related to the higher levels of internal support in larger schools.

The findings show most principals actively seek support for their role, either from paid advisers, their own organisations, or government-funded advice.

‘The government support that principals have for their role is more around the management aspects than educational leadership, with little ongoing formal support for educational leadership after the programme for new principals,’ Chief Researcher Cathy Wylie said.

‘The findings raise the question of how we develop and support capable leadership in all schools, and how that capability and experience is used within the whole education system,’ Cathy Wylie said.

‘Only around a third of principals thought their workload was manageable or sustainable,’ Cathy Wylie said. ‘At the same time, 90 percent of principals enjoy their role, and see gains for their students, teachers and schools from the work they do.’

The NZCER survey got responses from a nationally representative sample of 349 English-medium state and state-integrated primary and intermediate schools. The survey was conducted from August to September 2016.

The findings have been released in a series of reports, all of which are available on the NZCER website. The report ‘Principals and their work’ is available at:

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