Principal of Donovan School in Invercargill, Peter Hopwood, says the support of colleagues and friends is vital to a principal’s wellbeing.
Hopwood was speaking in response to the Principals’ Health and Wellbeing Survey.
He has two networks to which he belongs – a professional learning group and the Southland Primary Principals’ Association.
“These are invaluable. Teachers have each other to talk to but there is only one principal in a school.”
Hopwood is also on the NZEI Te Riu Roa Principals’ Council and says that principals have more responsibility and accountability than ever before.
“We have to be transparent in all our actions, such as personnel. We are also dealing with a different parent community. We have a greater vulnerability too such as in health and safety.
“Our jobs have become very complex.”
He says he often works six days a week – and this was not unusual among principals surveyed in the health and wellbeing study. He also says it is important sometimes to not go into school in the weekends and to have other interests. He keeps fit by walking.
Accountability in terms of planning and reporting to the Ministry has also increased the workload of principals, as did new government initiatives.
“We have to have an education vision for our whole country and if we have a change of government to not change that momentum. That would be fantastic.”
He says some of these initiatives are important in raising achievement and capability of teachers.
“But it is the speed and implementation of these projects. There is no clarity and communication and it has created a lot of suspicion – such as will league tables lead to performance pay?
“We are always second guessing what the next initiative will be and it breeds cynicism.
“We should have the same vision as the Ministry.’’
He says much of his time recently has been taken up getting new buildings on his site when he could have used the time for other work such as redesigning curriculum.
He says there is also more time spent on how to get the most out of budgets.
“More money would fix some of it – the operations grant needs to reflect the rising cost of what we have to pay.”