Independent school principals' wellbeing : exploration of inhibitors and enablers

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This thesis examines the enabling and inhibiting factors that impact on the wellbeing of principals of independent schools in Australia. The wellbeing of the principal in an independent school directly influences their ability to operate an effective school. Principals in all schools have key management roles and take responsibility for successful educational outcomes (social, performance, sporting and academic) of students and the wellbeing of students, staff and parents. The study contributes to the knowledge of factors affecting principals, of the ways they create and utilise strategies and provides insights to assist newly appointed principals. As little research exists in this area, this thesis contributes to a broader understanding of the issues. A plethora of research exists regarding student or learner wellbeing, and even teacher wellbeing. The bulk of this work relates to programs which support and inform students, parents and teachers about resilience and mental health. This makes the exploration of wellbeing for principals timely and highly legitimate. The intention of this thesis is to inform those responsible for employing principals in these schools. The findings are aimed at providing insights and directions for employers of principals. The overarching methodology of this study is phenomenological, working within a hermeneutic interpretive paradigm. It involves the participation of 39 Australian independent school principals with interviews employed as the primary research method. The project developed a theoretical model to assist current principals and newly appointed principals of independent schools to operationalize pathways that seek to create improved and increased professional wellbeing. The research findings have implications regarding principals’ self-imposed actions for improved wellbeing. The study concludes with an identification of related areas for further research.
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