Associate Professor Philip Riley from Australian Catholic University, is a registered psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. He is a former school principal and is also the Chief Investigator for The Australian and Irish Principals and Deputy Principals Health and Wellbeing Surveys. In 2016 NZEI Te Riu Roa commissioned Dr Riley to undertake The New Zealand Primary School Principals’ Occupational Health and Wellbeing Survey. This research is a replication of research conducted in Australia since 2011 and in Ireland since 2014 and has heavily informed the development of the Educators’ Wellbeing Toolkit.
In addition to directly exploring the health and wellbeing of school leaders, the survey has important implications for all staff and broader school communities. The research project aimed to conduct a longitudinal study monitoring school principals and deputy/assistant principals’ health and wellbeing annually. Wellbeing in different school types, levels and size was also monitored, along with lifestyle choices such as exercise and diet and the professional and personal social support networks available to individuals.
The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale is used to measure the mental, social and functional well-being alongside a Finnish model of social capital which clearly identifies end points that create vertical and horizontal social capital (across the organisation).
By completing these two surveys at the beginning and end of the programme, participants are able to see and discuss areas of growth and areas to focus on in the future.
The Finnish experience suggests that if we too can make courageous decisions about our national future we can also make it happen. It is time we began the conversation in earnest.