Tuesday, December 20, 2011
School Principal Appointments Becoming Political?
I have grave concerns regarding the Ministry taking over the appointment of school principals from boards of Trustees, especially when we have a government that has the potential to impose political and ideological criteria on suitability for positions. However, I also have concerns about the current system of appointing principals as the career pathway for leadership positions is flawed.
Prior to tomorrow's schools applicants for leadership positions needed to have a number of years experience and also have gone through a professional assessment (Grading) before applying and while the system wasn't perfect only those with some experience of staff management and proven professional knowledge would be considered. No one would be appointed to a position as principal of a large school unless they had proven experience in a smaller one. I am aware of many principals who have been appointed in the role for nonprofessional attributes such as just being male or because they had attractive qualifications yet no management experience. A large school that has hundreds of children and twenty to thirty staff is not an institution for a novice principal to lead and yet that is what can currently occur and I have also heard of small schools being led by beginning teachers.
It is not so much who makes appointments but the process that is followed and having appropriate career pathway that allows future leaders in education to develop appropriate skills and experience. It is also important to have professional and properly moderated verification of their abilities. A successful trial of a system of professional attestation for classroom teachers has recently been completed and could easily be adapted for aspiring leaders.
Education leadership needs the best people in these roles, people who are driven by the needs of the children they are ultimately responsible for. Principals should have an in depth knowledge of what makes the most effective teaching and learning and be able to motivate and lead a team to deliver it. They should not be solely motivated by meeting arbitrary and ideological criteria and become gagged civil servants who cannot speak out about poor policy that could potentially damage kids.
(It is interesting that even Kiwiblog's David Farrar has questioned the sense of this potential change)