By Dr. Patricia Briscoe


Dr. Katina Pollock of Western University along with Dr. Fei Wang and Cameron Hauseman conducted a survey involving over 1400 Principal Members of the Ontario Principals’Council (OPC) entitled The Changing Nature of Principals’ Work. While principals like their jobs and feel they are making a difference, the role is becoming increasingly complex and overwhelming, and is having a major impact on attracting and retaining the best candidates.

The study was funded by OPC and conducted to provide a comprehensive understanding of the changing nature of principals’ work, to determine how principals spend their time and to raise awareness of the challenges of the role.

Highlights of the survey include:

• More than 90% of principals believe their school is a good place to work and that their job is making a meaningful difference in the community.

• Only 1/3 of principals feel they have the resources necessary to do their job properly.

• In an average 60 hour work week, principals are spending more than 25 hours per week in meetings and on email, but only 5 hours on curriculum and instruction.

• Almost half of a principal’s day is spent in their office, while a little more than 10% is spent in classrooms or hallways.

• More than 80% of principals reported being too busy dealing with managerial tasks to give instructional issues the attention they deserve.

• Regulation 274 has had a negative impact in schools, preventing principals from hiring the best teacher for the role, and acting as a barrier to having a more representative population (diversity) of teachers in the school. 

One of the major issues is the lack of autonomy principals have in making decisions based on the best interests of their schools. The study revealed that, “...the principalship has become so structured and rooted in compliance that there is little room for principals to demonstrate professional judgment or autonomy in their daily work.”

Each day additional highlights from the report are being tweeted out by @Drkatinapollock and posted to #OPCLeadstudy. Feel free to follow along and comments are welcome.

“This survey has provided us with important data from over 1400 principals, some of which is positive but some of which is troubling. The role is becoming unsustainable, and these issues must be addressed in the best interests of the students and the system,” said John Hamilton, President of the OPC.

As a result of the data, the OPC is advocating for

• More autonomy so that principals and vice-principals can make decisions in the best interests of our students related to safety, well-being and instruction.

• Fewer mandated initiatives, or more administrative time to enable us to keep up with the overwhelming number of new responsibilities and resulting workload.

• The revocation of Regulation 274.

You ca download and the read the final report

The London Free Press also published an additional article on the report

Dr. Katina Pollock
Associate Professor, Western Faculty of Education
519.661.2111 x82855
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Dr. Fei Wang
Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Studies
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Cameron Hauseman
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Toronto, OISE
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This study was funded by The Ontario Principals’ Council. OPC is the voluntary professional association representing over 5,500 principals and vice-principals in Ontario’s public elementary and secondary schools. Established in 1998, the OPC advocates on behalf of public education and provides professional supports to its Members.