Principalship Under Pressure
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says new research is further proof that school principals need better support and career development opportunities, to stop them leaving the workforce in droves.
Research by the Council for Educational Research shows only a third of principals who left their job this year, were moving to new principal positions.
NZEI which represents 2000 primary and intermediate school principals, says the principal workforce is ageing, there have been gaps in leadership and succession planning, and workloads have become unmanageable.
NZEI President Frances Nelson says in New Zealand principals are the chief executive, financial controller, human resources manager, building and maintenance supervisor, community liaison officer, professional leader, and in small schools, classroom teacher as well.
“There are serious workload issues and NZEI has been strenuously arguing for the government to centrally fund core support staff positions to take some of the admin and management pressure off principals and let them focus on what they’re supposed to - the educational leadership of their schools.”
The research also confirms systematic problems with the way school boards appoint principals. There are no requirements around the appointment process and once an appointment is made Boards have no obligation to provide support and professional development opportunities.
Frances Nelson says “NZEI believes all principal appointment processes should include an appropriate external advisor to ensure proper consideration is given to the range of qualities and skills required to carry out this critical role. It cannot be left to chance or the vagaries of "who the Board likes and thinks will fit personality-wise" with its members.”
NZEI strongly supports the Ministry of Education's Leadership Strategy which once implemented, will give middle and senior teachers a clear career pathway towards principalship and address the issue of ensuring a quality pool of applicants.
“At the moment the system is not attractive enough to encourage teachers to aspire to be principals and there are no assurances that if they do choose that path, they’ll have the opportunities and support they need to be successful,” says Ms Nelson.