Australia faces a looming crisis in filling school principal roles, an academic has warned.
The Australian Principal Occupation Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey 2020 found 6.8 per cent of school leaders planned to retire in 2021.
Responses showed 47.7 per cent of principals were over 56 years old and 5.5 per cent were over 66 years old. The school leaders had an average of 27 years' experience in schools.
Co-chief investigator for the survey and ACU Institute for Positive Psychology and Education Professor Herb Marsh said a large portion of principals were approaching retirement age but potential applicants for principal roles were being put off the demanding leadership positions.
"The school principal is an incredibly stressful job," Prof Marsh said.
"It's huge, long work hours, lots of stress and they don't really get all that much added remuneration."
Chief executive for the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia Beth Blackwood said there were people who were keen to take on the roles but the positions needed to be made more enticing.
"We have an aspirant membership to to our association so we know that there are some well-trained aspiring principals in the wings to step into leadership positions," she said.
"But we have to make the job more attractive and reports such as this occupational health and safety well being survey suggests there's much more that we can do to support, and provide safe working environments for for leaders."
She said the Northern Territory and Victoria had taken some systemic measures which had reduced the number of principals who reported high stress levels.
The research was conducted by Australian Catholic University and Deakin University.
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