Deakin University Professor Phil Riley shared with me his research into Principal Health and Well-being.
And the results are really scary! School Leaders are almost double the population average for Burnout, Stress and Trouble Sleeping. And their Self-rated Health is well below average.
The “sheer quantity of work” and “lack of time to focus on teaching and learning” have consistently been reported as the two key stressors. Worse still, this has been steadily increasing for nearly a decade.
On the bright side, many principals report having a significant moral purpose which sustains them.
But, I guess this is no surprise. The role of an educator in inspiring children to become Passionate, Life-Long Learners is very morally rewarding. And we all know how insanely busy teachers and principals can be, and the stress they are under.
One school district in the USA (Kent School District) is trying to mitigate this by taking Wednesday afternoon's off! Teachers spend their time in PD and teacher collaboration, while the students are under the care of their Enrichment and Sports activity providers.
One workplace study in NZ went even further, with a 4-day work week demonstrating BETTER staff productivity, LESS stress and huge benefits to staff well-being. But can that work in schools? Would the students' learning suffer?
Children in Finland (recognised as the top education system globally) have 30% FEWER contact hours at school than here in Australia - and get BETTER results. This suggests, that from a Learning Outcomes perspective, children may also perform better on a 4-day school week.
I'd love to see a school trial this in Australia - one day per week where teachers hand over all their students to an Enrichment Provider for a fun, interest-based day. I think students would be more engaged in school, teachers would benefit and Leadership stress may well start to reduce.
What are your thoughts about a 4-day school week?