Survey to determine health of Irish principals

Two professional associations representing Irish school leaders – the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) and the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals – have commissioned REDI’s Educator Health and Wellbeing Research Group to undertake the Irish Principal and Deputy Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey. The survey includes all school principals and deputy principals at both primary and secondary level schools in Ireland.

“It is generally acknowledged that the increasing workload demands on school leaders is having an impact on their health and wellbeing. Added to this are offensive and sometimes violent behaviours from parents and students, emotional demands from staff and work–family conflict. These are issues that span boarders and cultures,” said Dr Ben Arnold, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow.

The Educator Health and Wellbeing team is a global hub for research into the work experiences and work-related health and wellbeing of the education workforce. The team is led by Professor Philip Riley, an international expert in psychology, education and leadership. Professor Riley is supported by Dr Ben Arnold, Dr Mark Rahimi and Dr Marcus Horwood; each with an interest in education policy, and how it may best be used to maintain and promote student, teacher, and school leader wellbeing and educational outcomes. They examine the complexity of educators’ work environments and the relationships between educators’ working conditions and their health, safety and wellbeing. Their research covers early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education sector employees.

Previous surveys have consistently shown that school leaders work long hours, face emotional demands in their work and experience conflicts between their working and family lives. School leaders also appear to be prone to suffer from burnout, sleeping troubles and stress as a result of their work.

The Irish study will monitor Irish school leaders over three years (2022-2024) and identify the factors that support and hinder their work. It will provide school leaders with personalised information about their work-related health and wellbeing and provide policymakers with data that can guide the development of supportive school systems and environments.

“As the leaders of a school community, principals have an enormous influence on student learning and wellbeing, on teacher wellbeing and on the health and safety of the school community as a whole. Their wellbeing has an impact on how well they perform in this critical role,” said Dr Arnold.

“Our findings will be used to support the development of healthy, safe working environments for Irish principals.”

News 27 February 2023