Schools seek help on violence
Schools seek help on violence

School principals are appealing to Education Minister Peter Collier for specialist training to cope with physical violence, threats and intimidation from students and parents.

Professional associations representing leaders from public and private schools have submitted a proposal for "mental wellness" training for school leaders to help them build resilience and deal with conflict.

The proposal stemmed from a meeting principals had with Mr Collier last year in which they called on the Government to set up a task force to investigate violence and intimidation of principals and teachers in WA schools.

They also called for more support to help principals struggling to cope with stress and for extra training in dealing with conflict.

Their call was based on findings from a Monash University report on the wellbeing of principals that said they were six times more likely to be assaulted physically than the general public and five times more likely to be threatened with violence.

WA Primary Principals Association president Stephen Breen said while Mr Collier had not agreed to a task force, he had asked principals to submit a proposal for his consideration on resilience training.

The submission suggests offering a three-hour professional learning program to about 300 principals at venues across the State, including in Kalgoorlie, Bunbury, Geraldton and Albany.

The program, which was expected to cost about $50,000, would include information on stress, building resiliency and how to create mentally healthy workplaces.

Mr Breen said it was more cost-effective for the Government to put money into programs to support principals instead of paying out tens of thousands of dollars in workers compensation.

"This program would help develop some resilience in the principals to handle the stress of the job because the pressures are getting huge," he said. "And the consequence of that is we have fewer people putting their hands up to become principals."

Australian Catholic University academic Philip Riley, who wrote the wellbeing report when he was based at Monash, said that one in three WA principals had experienced physical violence.

Mr Collier said though he had not seen the proposal, principals played a vital role in schools and he wanted to make sure they had the tools they needed to do their jobs as effectively as possible.

The West Australian

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