Helping the Sydney community with relationships, parenting, ageing, disability, pastoral services and mental wellbeing.

Supporting school leaders at risk of burnout

Supporting school leaders at risk of burnout

Addressing the results from the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) annual Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety, and Wellbeing Survey 1, Michael Everett, CatholicCare Sydney’s Executive Director for Schools, Practice, Impact, Partnerships & Innovation said schools face the same challenges their communities experience every day and principals are expected to support students, families, their staff, and themselves.

“We are aware that now more than ever principals are more readily contactable by parents than ever before, and their communities expect school principals to have a breadth and depth of expertise and responsibilities far beyond their traditional role as educators,” Mr. Everett said.

“Research confirms that school principals have the second biggest in-school impact on student outcomes after classroom teaching and they are under increasing pressure related to workload and the expanding scope of their roles.” 2

Principals and school leaders are facing escalating threats and violence, chronic staff shortages, and punishing workloads according to ACU’s survey, driving school principals towards resignation and early retirement, with the number of principals wanting to quit or retire early tripling.

Table: Percentage of school leaders reported being subjected to offensive behaviour in NSW.
Source: Principal mental health suffers amid escalating threats, violence, and chronic staff shortages, Australian Catholic University, 2023

Percentage of school leaders reported being subjected to offensive behaviour in NSW 2023

CatholicCare Sydney’s Thriving Leaders program has been designed to help address self-care, resilience, and confidence in managing complex and challenging circumstances and is available to primary and secondary Catholic school principals and leaders across New South Wales.

One of the key recommendations from ACU’s report calls for employers to introduce wellbeing priorities within performance frameworks for school leaders and seek feedback on how to best support principals to achieve work-life balance and to seek support when needed. CatholicCare Sydney’s Thriving Leaders program delivers on this recommendation, with the service tailored to individuals and delivered in a proactive, strengths-based collaborative manner.

“We are there as a partner, advocating for change and providing the opportunity for principals and leaders to debrief with someone who understands the nuances of working in schools,” Mr. Everett said.

“With over thirty years’ experience providing expert counselling and support services to schools, we understand the unique pressures of leadership roles in education today. Our Thriving Leaders program focuses on assisting those in leadership positions to manage the demands of their roles with reflection and resilience. ”

Along with Thriving Leaders CatholicCare Sydney offers a range of programs for school communities, including Beyond the School Gate which provides case management support to families experiencing complex needs, School Counselling in 138 schools across New South Wales, Professional Development Services and Clinical Supervision for school counsellors, as well as Critical Incident Support.