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Top Leaders Needed For Top Schools

Top Leaders Needed For Top Schools - Principals’ Conference

New Zealand Principals’ Federation President Jenny Earle is urging quality teachers to think seriously about travelling down the principal career path.

Speaking prior to the Federation’s annual conference, Jenny Earle says that concern has been raised at the future of school leadership in New Zealand.

The Principals with Principles conference is being officially opened tomorrow (note Wednesday) at Parliament. This year’s conference has attracted a record number of delegates with an estimated 1000 people attending.

Jenny Earle says that New Zealand is not alone in its concern, with other countries already taking action to ensure the concerns don’t become a reality.

“We need to work on a range of initiatives to ensure we attract and retain the best possible people to lead schools now and in the future. Our schools are already being run by quality leaders and it is important that this continues.

“There’s no denying that being a principal is a difficult and demanding job and sometimes people can be scared away by the thought of a heavy workload. However with any challenge, there are real benefits with the obvious one being able to make a real difference to the education of students.”

Jenny Earle says it is important that principals have first hand understanding of what it means to be in a classroom.

“The people leading our schools know exactly what it involves to be a teacher, along with having a good understanding of how to provide a quality education. That’s why it’s important we continue to attract quality teachers to the role.”

She says in addition to a shortage of teachers wanting to become principal, there are also other issues of concern relating to the future leadership of schools. These include:

- A large number of principals retiring over the next five years.

- Concern over workload issues.

- The lure of overseas positions which are attracting many of New Zealand’s quality teachers.

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2/Top leaders

She says there has been a lot of progress in recent times with the professional development of principals, particularly for new principals. However, it is vital that the Government continues to show its commitment not only to new principals, but also to those who have been in the role for some time.

“There are a number of senior teachers who would make excellent principals, and for some reason are not going down this path. It is great that good teachers are wanting to continue in the classroom, but some also need to seriously think about becoming leaders within the school community.”

Jenny Earle says while help and peer support is available for principals, it is disappointing that funding for the Mentor Programme comes to an end after this year.

“This programme provides the opportunities in a confidential setting for principals to share and grow through professional discussions with colleagues. I am concerned that there is a belief that computer chatrooms should take the place of these types of face-to-face meetings - we need to maintain both modes of communication.”

She says as an organisation the Principals’ Federation will continue to push for further professional development.

“The conference is just one example of how the Federation is working with principals to explore new ways of doing things. The fact that we have a record number of delegates this year shows that there is a real willingness to learn and build on what we already know,” she says.

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