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
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.
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