A Critique – “Principal role changes and influence on principal recruitment and selection”. An international perspective by Kathryn S. Whitaker Abstract The change role of principal in schools continues to influence the recruitment and selection of principal in many education systems throughout the world. The role encompasses the management and leadership aspect of school governance. Thus, this requires greater transparency and accountability where the demand for qualified candidate with sound qualities is often the priority.
On the contrary, many qualified principals often reluctant to take up the challenge because of dissatisfaction with the package of the post as compared to the work load involved. 1. 0 Introduction This paper attempts to critique the above title article which is written by Kathryn S. Whitaker from the University of North Colorado, USA. The paper takes this format in reviewing the article. Firstly, the paper summarises the article, and follows by an analytical critique on the article. The perspectives and contributions from other scholars were also consulted to validate the points raised in the exercise.
In doing so, the paper hope to shad light in order one can appreciate the significance of having sound knowledge and understanding, on human resource management principles in recruitment, selection and retention of employees at the workplace. 2. 0 Summary There are volumes of documents about the change role of school principals over the years. These were researched reports by individuals, organisations and institutions such as universities. It is overwhelming to see the significant role principals perform in the management and administration of schools.
The role of principals have significantly move from simple classroom teaching and managing teachers, pupils and the resources of the school, to encompass greater scope and magnitude of management and leadership. These change roles are the outcome of the various major educational reforms, new educational policies and demand from educational clienteles for more participatory. As such, the changes add more workload and stresses to the principals to perform their role more effectively and efficiently.
In addition, it also creates much challenge to the human resource management in the education sector to retain qualified principals, recruit, and select qualified candidates. In this article, the author presents her overview from an international perspective. The change role of the principal is grouped into five main categories. The local management of schools, tension between management and leadership, increased accountability, altered relationships with parents and community; and school choice. Each of these changes in the role of head teacher and principal is discussed hereon.
The decentralisation of the educational functions down to schools and communities took its height in 1980s as part of reform in most western countries. In countries like the USA, UK, New Zealand and Australia, this is known as local management of schools, site council governance, site- based management or self-managing schools. In the US in particular this is claimed to be restructuring of education system. However, the major purpose of decentralisation was to move the power of decision- making closer to schools and empower school management.
Hence, parents, communities and staff of the school have greater control of the operation of their schools than in the past. For instance in some countries they revealed that parents and communities have greater control of the school budget and finance. Furthermore, the decentralisation created new governing structure within the system and in the schools. In country such as New Zealand, parent trust boards were formed to replace the local education authority. Staff councils were empowered to determine and develop appropriate and relevant curriculum and teaching methodology.
Hence, school programs were planed according to the context of the community or society. Thus, schools became more autonomous in almost all aspects of the educational functions. However, whilst much positive things were seen with the introduction of self-management of schools, the principals on the other hand felt the pinch of the concept. It was revealed from various researches and reports that the exercise has greatly increased the roles of principals. Principals’ roles and responsibilities became heavier as their scope of managing schools became wider. The administrative roles became too demanding and time consuming then before.
As such, this created longer working hours and stress for most principals and head teachers in the countries that were observed. In addition to the change roles of the principals, the concept of self-school management also created tension between management and leadership for principals. The roles of principals have many dimensions to manage and lead. Thus, this often created role ambiguity for most principals. For instance, principals have to attain to their professional roles which include teaching, guiding instructional programs and monitor the academic performance and progress of the students and staff.
At the same time, the principal is pressured to attend to his/her administrative roles. Thus, this often created tension within the principals on setting their priorities in their management and leadership roles. As such, many principals often despised their professional roles and attend mostly to their administrative roles, which so often are demanding and pressuring. According to Kathryn, principals spent longer hours to work on reports, records, meetings, purchasing and attaining to peoples’ query. This was because there was increased accountability on the principals to the various stakeholders of the school.
For instance, in England, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia tax-payers always want to know where and how their money was spent. Thus principals spent less time to attain to their professional roles. This also often put principals in an awkward position to try to satisfy the expectations of both the students and public. The change and increase of principals’ roles also altered their relationship with parents and community. Principals’ interactions with parents and communities increased than in the past.
The boundary between the school and community becomes as slim and permeable as parents and community took more responsibility in the decision-making, managing and governance of the school. Furthermore, principals were cautious and sensitive in their involvement with the parents and communities. Kathryn reports that principals were cautious in their involvement with external partners, business and internal members of staff. Moreover, schools were operated in business oriented manner where maintaining good rapport and relationship with people outside the school boundary was important.
As such, this again also gave greater work load for principals. Principals and head teachers had to spend a lot of their time attending to these various board meetings, business partners and organising seminars to name only a few. There were also incidents that principals and head teachers had conflict with parents’ trustee over power authority on decision –makings and even resources. The change roles of principal really altered the relationship of principals with parents and community. Finally, school choice legislation which found in most western countries also influenced the changed roles of principals and head teachers.
The school choice policy allows parents to choose the kind of school they thought would meet the learning need of their children. In the US, Australia, New Zealand these schools are known as charter schools, voucher and private schools. This implies schools have to be marketable and offer attractive courses and programs in order to attract and retain more students. The introduction of the school choice policy also has greater effect on principals and head teachers. In many of the schools in the countries where the report was conducted revealed that many principals have to work extra harder than ever to keep their schools competitive.
Kathryn pointed out that many schools were forced to close while others were merged together in order to keep going. Schools therefore were operated using business strategies to retain their students and staff. The changed roles of principals and head teacher have really influenced recruitment and retention. The psychological effect with stress, economic and social impact of the changed roles made recruiting and retention much difficult to address in most western countries. In countries like the US, England, New Zealand and Australia in the 1980s, there was great shortage of principals and candidates for principals.
According to Kathryn’s report, the major reasons were that many qualified candidates for principals were reluctant and unwilling to apply to become principals or head teacher. Principal’s post was no longer an attracting post where teachers would work hard to become one. Moreover, the attrition rate of the qualified principals was growing higher and retaining them was important. It is obvious that many potential candidates were not interested because of the nature of the role of the principal and head teacher.
From a number of reports in Kathryn’s work, it showed that many potential candidates claimed that the salary and conditions do not commensurate the workload. Further to that, there was also lack of definition of the role of the principal and lack of professional development and support. Moreover, many potential candidates and principals claimed that high public expectations and accountability often created high stress. Fuelling to the disinterest in the principal post is the high working hours and workload throughout the year. Therefore, a call for review of these laims is a need in most of the countries where the report was obtained. Kathryn’s work concludes with five recommendations. Firstly, there is need for re-examination of principal’s roles. This implies that the structure of schools must be redesigned where principals would have number of assistants who can help them with their many diverse roles. There must also clear guidelines on the roles of principals and further delegations of the roles should be made to other member of staff in the school. Thus, this would help to make the workload of principals quite flexible and easy to manage.
Secondly, principals should be supported in their workload. This can be in terms of mentoring, offering advice, in service training and provide induction programs. Many principals became stress and found themselves overloaded because they do not understand well their roles. The self-school management must also be made explicitly clear and define the roles of the parents’ trustees, community, staff and principals. This is to enhance collegiality, cooperation and support in carrying the functions of the school.
Thirdly, increase principals’ salary and incentives so that they are able to meet their households’ needs and be motivated to work. The reports confirmed that principals were not satisfied with the salary they received as compared with the amount of workload they performed. Hence, this has also influenced potential candidates to be reserved from applying to become principals. Attractive incentives would also boost the morale and motivate principals to remain in the post. This includes providing transport, housing, training and paying bonus for principals.
This would give them a sense of being valued, honoured and thus create in them the sense of ownership of the school. Fourthly, schools are encouraged to establish partnership with training institutions for the supply of required labour. In this case, supply of trained leaders who are qualified to manage and lead schools. Moreover, schools and school boards should liaise with the institutions to provide leadership programs that addresses and relevant for managing schools. This would greatly address the difficulty in finding leaders to manage schools.
Finally, growing and nurturing school’s own leader is also another effective approach. This is training and developing the potential teachers and deputy principals to become principals. Hence, when it comes to recruitment and selection, the school board can only recruit from their internal source. As Subba Rao (2007) stresses, recruitment and selection from internal source of the organisation or company serves a lot of advantages. The most obvious one is, it promotes and motivates the employee’s loyalty, commitment, sense of belongingness and security of the present employees. 4. Personal Interest Kathryn’s report contributes to the mass of literature about the profession of school principals. However, unlike other reports which observe alone the roles, dissatisfactions and nature of the work of principals, Kathryn went a little further to unfold the effects of change roles of principals. A view in which can be discussed from a number of perspectives. The report’s main emphasis was on change roles of principals and how it influence recruitment and selection of principals. In the report Kathryn mentioned the various areas which the principals’ roles have changed.
The management of the school is decentralised to site-based, increased accountability, altered relationships and the others. Scott and Dinham (2007) also found the similar finding with the principals in Australian secondary schools. What had transpired evidently in those reports is that principals are greatly affected. Dinham and Scott found that principals were truly not happy about their salary and the incentives. As such, most principals have great health stress and mental related problems. This implies how very demanding and heavy load the roles of principals have become.
Bennell (2004) attributes such situation reflects the government and general public lower occupational status view on the teaching profession. The scenario also questions the management and leadership in schools. Subba Rao (2007) points out that the function of human resource managers, in schools is the principal is to coordinate, direct, controlling and supervising the staff and activities of the organisation. From the reports one can tell that the principals were doing the opposite. They performed most of the roles by themselves.
In addition, Subba Rao (2007) argues that employees in any organisation have social, psychological and economical needs which organisation must address. Principals in this scenario deserve better salary and working conditions. Finally, it is the responsibility and function of the organisation’s recruitment and selection policy that an ongoing internal training must be part of the organisation undertaking. This is training the current permanent employees of the organisation, present temporary or casual present employees. The internal source of recruitment has lots of advantages which organisations can benefit.
It can reduce the cost of recruitment and selection, and potential candidates are always at the disposal of the school. As Subba Rao (2007) states, “the cost of training, induction, period of adaption to the organisation can be minimal” (p. 85). 5. 0 Conclusion Kathryn’s report on world perception on the change role of principals is another contribution to the scholars’ debate on the issue of principal, their roles and rewards and welfare. Many of the commentators are arguing that the principals’ workload is too many and yet they are poorly remunerated.
However, this paper believes that a proper approach to address this problem would be taken from a human resource management perception. The problems and issues schools are experiencing cannot be solved by having experts to fill up the principals. The right solution can only come about when proper human resource management principles are applied in school management and leadership. This includes issues on recruitment and selection, managing and leading employees, retaining and developing staff. After all principals, head teachers and staff are only human beings and must be treated humanely.
Reference Bennell, Paul (2004). “Job satisfaction among school teachers in Cyprus”, Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 42 Iss: 3, pp. 357 – 374. Dinham, S and Scott, C, (1997). Teacher and Executive Satisfaction and Health, University of Western Australia; Sydney. Subba Rao, P. (2007). Personnel and Human Resources Management, Delhi: Himalaya Publishing House. Whitaker, S. K (2002). Principal role changes and influence on principal recruitment and selection: an international perspective, Journal of educational Administration. Vol. 41, No. 1.