Spotlight on principal health and wellbeing
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 7, 8 October 2021, page no.14
The QTU recently participated in a Queensland Principal and School Leader Wellbeing Roundtable, an opportunity for key stakeholders to shine a spotlight on what is happening in the principal’s office.
The QTU is acutely aware of the need for school leaders to be provided with ongoing support for their mental health and wellbeing. Here is an update on the issues that arose.
The department’s introduction of a mediator has been warmly received by principals involved in complex student management cases, and it should be extended.
The department is now transitioning into the second year of the Principal Health and Wellbeing Strategy, accompanied by the release of the 2021-2022 Action Plan, which contains a series of new and refined initiatives (see right). The QTU has provided significant input and will continue to work with the department through the Principal Health and Wellbeing Implementation Group.
A staged roll-out of the Principal Hotline and Complex Matters Referral Team service is taking place across the state, with the Far North Queensland launch taking place in July.
The Principal Coaching and Support Service (PCSS), delivered by Headspace, is once again offering a series of 75-minute psychological wellbeing training programs, to be delivered via Microsoft Teams throughout the term.
More than 300 forums were recently held for principals, deputies and heads of campus, with more than 2,000 attending – the self-care session was the most popular.
The QTU provided feedback on principals’ need for more support from regional office personnel, particularly in dealing with complex student case management.
In some rural and remote locations, the inability to source permanent staff, district relief teachers or supply teachers means principals are having to step in and take classes, which creates challenges for the delivery of basic entitlements, such as non-contact time.
Principals need training and support to build their capability to provide advice and assistance to employees who disclose mental health issues, experience family
and domestic violence, or require complex return to work coordination.
Central office’s continual soft launching of new policies can add to workload and stress for principals, and the Union continues to push back against it. The Workload Advisory Council has agreed to review the management foundations training in the context of mandatory all staff training.
Overview of initiatives
Principal Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2021-22
Pillar 1 – Optimise time to lead
- Initiative 1: Implement a change to the way new and revised policies and procedures are released and maintain a forward plan to better manage impact of change on schools.
- Initiative 2: Proactively develop templates and resources to assist schools where appropriate.
- Initiative 3: Refine and clearly communicate departmental requirements around mandatory training for principals and school leaders.
- Initiative 4: Support engagement with local consultative committees (LCCs) to assist workload management.
- Initiative 5: Provide clarity, resources, and support for principals to manage and resolve human resource matters.
- Initiative 6: Increase support and resources for managing minor integrity matters.
Supporting business activities – mandatory training ready reckoner, student wellbeing workforces, OnePortal review.
Pillar 2 – Support services
- Initiative 7: Continue to implement the Principal Hotline and Principal Complex Matters Referral Team services through a staged rollout to all regions throughout 2022.
- Initiative 8: Review the assistant regional director scheme and lead principal roles to deliver a strengthened model of supervision and support for principals.
- Initiative 9: Better coordination of access to health and wellbeing support services, including health checks.
Supporting business activities – review of the model of principal supervision and support.
Pillar 3 – Safe and respectful workplace
- Initiative 10: Address occupational violence and aggression towards principals and school staff and set clear expectations for respectful communication and behaviour in school communities.
- Initiative 11: Clarify and communicate the provisions and resources for responding to hostile persons.
Supporting business activities – occupational violence and aggression prevention strategy.
Pillar 4 – Capability
- Initiative 12: Refine and improve induction and development materials for school leaders, aligned to broader organisational induction approach.
- Initiative 13: Provide professional development opportunities to support school leaders in people management, including conflict management, dispute resolution and de-escalation skills.
- Initiative 14: Increase leader capability in leading inclusive schools.
- Initiative 15: Design and support access to high quality and immersive leadership programs for experienced principals.
Supporting business activity – leadership strategy.