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School principal

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Summary of occupation

School principals oversee the planning, organisation, direction and coordination of the day-to-day educational and administrative aspects of a school. They are often responsible for hiring new staff, including teachers and support staff, as well as setting the educational program, based on the curriculum set out by the Western Australian government. They also set up systems to monitor and improve school and student performance. These workers prepare and manage school budgets, and may also oversee additional fundraising activities, often in conjunction with parent groups. In some schools, the principal may also be responsible for the clerical and administrative duties involved with student enrolments and have some teaching duties.

ANZSCO description: Plans, organises, directs, controls and  coordinates the educational and administrative aspects of primary,  middle or intermediate and secondary schools including physical and  human resources. Registration or licensing is required.
Alternative names: Head teacher, Headmaster/mistress
Specialisations: Primary School Principal, Secondary School Principal
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A principal needs:

  • leadership and motivational ability
  • good organisational skills
  • to enjoy working with young people
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
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Working conditions

Principals work in all Western Australian schools, including public, catholic and independent schools. They usually work regular teaching hours, but are expected to work additional hours to attend staff meetings and undertake administrative tasks and, in some cases, prepare for classes. They may also be required to work additional hours to take students on excursions or camps, or to attend assemblies, graduations or other school functions. They frequently have a high level of contact with the public, often acting as the school's representative in the community and sometimes meeting with prospective students and their parents.

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Salary details

On average school principals can expect to earn between $2,204 and $3,253 per week ($114,626 and $169,192 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. 

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Tools and technologies

Principals use computers and other general office equipment to carry out general administrative duties. Those with additional teaching duties will need to use textbooks and other subject specific learning aides. Some principals may use microphones and other audio equipment to make announcements to the school, either at school assemblies or over a school PA system.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a school principal, you usually need to study a degree in primary or secondary education. Alternatively, you can study a degree in any area followed by the completion of a postgraduate qualification specialising in primary or secondary education. 

Most school principals will generally have significant experience in teaching before progressing to a school principal role. You may also be required to complete further postgraduate studies in education.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information. Learn more about your study options.

To work as a school principal in Western Australia, you will need to obtain registration with the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia (TRBWA). You will need to obtain a Working with Children Check (WWCC) from the Department of Communities and undergo a National Coordinated Criminal History Check (NCCHC) conducted by the Department of Education Screening Unit

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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