PeopleBench’s inaugural State of the Sector report surveyed more than 150 principals across the country and asked them to reflect on their school workforce now and their expectations for the future.

“We surveyed principals across a range of areas including the capability and professional development of the school workforce; the supply of suitable teachers in the labour market; and the diversity of the workforce,” PeopleBench chief research and insights officer Mike Hennessy said.

“Remarkably, while principals highlighted key gaps in each of those areas, most remained very positive about leading the school workforce.”

Ninety-two per cent of respondents reported feeling hopeful currently, although this dropped off somewhat when they were asked how they expected to feel in the future.

Just 81 per cent expected to feel hopeful in five years’ time, with a more pronounced decline in regional and remote areas.

The survey also found that principals rated staff wellbeing, leadership style and type of professional development undertaken as the most important factors in improving student outcomes.

“For us, these responses were particularly important – at the end of the day, education is still a people-focused business, and principals care deeply about the people they work alongside,” Hennessy said.

“This also creates an exciting challenge for us at PeopleBench: to test whether the other data we collect bears these factors out as the most important predictors of student performance, or whether it paints a slightly different picture to what principals expect.”