One in three school principals show signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - survey

  • 10/09/2018

A significant number of school principals in New Zealand show symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a survey has found. 

One in three of those in an Education Institute survey showed signs of PTSD, indicating the level of pressure felt by school principals. 

Principals Federation president Whetu Cormick said there is an increasing number of challenges facing schools in New Zealand, including the shortage of relief teachers. 

Fifty-two percent of primary and intermediate school principals say they didn't have enough teachers this term and that number was even worse for low decile schools, another survey earlier this month found. 

Because of that lack of teachers, 46 percent of principals have been forced to change the curriculum and school programmes.

"We have an on-going concern about what we're going to do next in terms of better supporting our schooling across the education system," Mr Cormick said.  

But people will still choose the profession, he added, telling Newshub despite the stresses, principals enjoy their work, because people don't enter the teaching profession "purely for money". 

Teaching is "an incredibly tough job," National leader Simon Bridges told The AM Show on Monday. He said teachers are going home at the end of the day with their "soul destroyed".

"I've seen it in my wider family, who are teachers. It's tough stuff. So here's the deal - what are we going to do about it? I think it's pretty simple, isn't it? We pay teachers more and give them better conditions."

Mr Bridges said he would seek more teachers and smaller class sizes. 

The Education Institute survey comes after Auckland's Rosehill College Principal Sue Blakely came under intense pressure last month when a huge brawl between students was filmed on school grounds. 

A group of students demanded action from the school following multiple violent incidents, saying in an anonymous letter to the school's board that complaints aren't taken seriously. 

Ms Blakely said she was "extremely disappointed" in the violence at the school. 

Primary school teachers and principals walked off the job for the first time in 24 years in mid-August demanding a 16 percent pay rise over two years. 

But figures provided to Newshub show even that 16 percent increase would fall short of getting their pay back to where it was, compared to the average weekly wage, 20 years ago. 

Recent figures released to the New Zealand Educational Institute predict the teacher shortage in New Zealand will reach crisis point by 2030. 

The Ministry of Education has rejected this claim, saying its figures show the retention of principals and teachers has increased over the last four years. 


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