Record number of principals quit after facing violence

Multiracial male principal in blue jacket, white shirt and name tag around neck. He's standing outside hos school.
Image: JohnnyGreig, iStock

School principals in Australia are being pushed to breaking point.

According to The Australian, a recent survey of 2500 school leaders showed, at minimum, 44% of principals have said they’ve faced physical violence in 2022.

This is the highest rate recorded since the Australian Catholic University started the survey in 2011.

Principals are at high risk of violence — 11 times more than the general population.

In response, Federal Education Minister, Jason Clare stated:

You can see the impact of this in teachers and principals leaving the profession early, burnt out and worn out.

ACU investigator and former principal, Paul Kidson condemned violence towards teachers and principals. He also suggested a cut to unnecessary red tape and paper work.

Violence balloons since the pandemic

Male student pushing another male student into a school locker
Image: P. Wei, iStock

The pandemic has exacerbated rates of violence and mental illness among students. A female principal from Western Australia said:

I am now dealing with high levels of playground violence, high rates of severe mental health, violence against teachers and parents who can’t accept their child being reprimanded or punished when their child had engaged in violence in a school.

Mental health is collapsing

Brief trigger warning: self harm and suicide. If this is triggering, feel free to skip this section or stopvreading the post altogether.

Principals are seeing an alarming rate of collapsing mental health of students. Principals report high rates of anxiety, ‘school refusal’, vaping, self – harm and suicidal ideation.

The mental health of principals is also a concern. They face high rates of stress and burnout.

As a whole, society needs to respect teachers more

I have thought this for years. How can we expect students to respect teachers when society doesn’t?

The media constantly attack teachers over NAPLAN results. They are constantly accused of ‘indoctrination’. The Australian Education Union is constantly slammed when they protest for a higher pay for teachers.

Are teachers perfect? Of course not! No one is. But, I truly think we as a society need to get off teachers’ backs.

During the pandemic, there should have been less screaming at teachers and more appreciation. They were just following guidelines. Most were doing what they thought was right for their students.

Same story, different day

The media reports again and again on the struggles of teachers and early childhood educators. Yet, nothing changes.

First, mental health care needs to be free, at least for those with severe mental illnesses. Australia’s Better Access is inadequate.

Second, we need more school counsellors and/ or social workers. It’s clear that too many children aren’t getting the help they need.

Teacher shortage a concern

If nothing changes, there will be a teacher shortage. As a result, many students of all years, may miss out on fundamental learning and experiences. Many will miss out on developing an essential bond with their teacher.

Do we really want that? Do we want children to be lost in the crowd because of teacher shortages? Enough’s enough. Society needs to have higher regard for teachers.

Note to the State governments: you get off teachers ‘ backs! Cut the red tape! How often do you have to be told?! Teachers are there to teach and nurture their students. Not do endless paperwork.

If this post has brought up issues, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636. They also have a webchat.


Violence towards principals shows an attitude overhaul is needed

Principal at desk with pen and paper
Image: iStock

Last Wednesday, the ABC reported a frightening spike of attacks on principals. Australian Catholic University revealed through their annual Australia Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing survey that 45% had experienced threats from parents and students. 37% claimed that they had been physically attacked. These figures from last year were higher than 2011 – 2017.

This is clearly unacceptable. No, that’s not strong enough. It’s appalling. And I don’t doubt that school teachers are receivers of abuse, too, probably at a similar rate. So, what is going on?




Let me say from the outset that I don’t propose bringing back corporal punishment in schools. It was banned for a reason, probably the risk of teachers going overboard.  But principals have slowly begun to lose powers to expel or suspend disruptive or dangerous students.

Last year, the Victorian government introduced a process that allowed principals to plead their case on why a student should be expelled. This move was slammed as, yet more red tape.


Physical discipline is another issue. I’m not talking about corporal punishment, but rather, using physycality as a restraint. Earlier this year, principal of Manor Lakes P – 12 College, Steve Warner, was suspended after footage showed him dragging a nine – year student by the arm across the playground. To their credit, other staff defended Mr. Warner, arguing that he was trying to prevent the student from attacking a pregnant teacher. (The sister of the nine year – old deny that he hit or kicked anyone and said that he suffered anxiety and ADHD).

Will the fear of controversy prevent principals or teachers intervening in the future? Only time will tell. I could understand why they wouldn’t want to risk it.

Undermined at every turn

When I was growing up, I often heard how past generations were expected to respect authority, including teachers. Disrespect was not toledated.

It’s not only students that seem to have lost respect. As the ABC article pointed out, parents have, too. Also, the media has a lot to answer for. How many times have you heard commentators smearing teachers as ‘socialists’ and accusations of them ‘indoctrinating’ children as if they are some sort of sociopathic cult leaders?


Teachers are also expected to perform magic; keep on top of paper work and red tape, and make sure students in years Three, Five, Seven and Nine all top the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).


Anti – bullying is another losing battle. I get that bullying rates shouldn’t be exaggerated, but they shouldn’t be ignored, either. Teachers doing their best to address bullying should be applauded. Teachers should not have been painted as predators when Safe Schools was implemented across multiple schools. Could people offer a different perspective? Sure. But teachers who want to support LGBTQ+ youth should not be unjustly smeared.


I’m not saying teachers are perfect. I’m not saying that improvements can’t be made to the education system. But I can’t see how we can expect students get the best results when teachers and principals are abused and their efforts denigrated by societty. We, or rather the next generations, will reap the results.