Letter of the Day: Schools demand visible principals
THE EDITOR, Sir:
With the start of the 2015/2016 academic year only a few weeks away, we must be reminded that leadership can make or break any school. Inspired leadership is at the genesis of the positive transformation of the Denbigh High
School, which was only upgraded to a high school a few years ago and has since become a school of choice in Clarendon. Sadly, this best practice is not being replicated throughout the education system, hence, we are left with only pockets of excellence.
With the start of any academic year, there is always much expectation. Conversely, we are still being haunted by the 2014 National Education Inspectorate (NEI) report that stated that 60 per cent of Jamaica's primary and secondary schools are failing in their education delivery to the nation's children. This is unacceptable, and we must all work together to fix the ailing education system.
To a great extent, our non-performing schools rest with the poor and weak leadership exhibited by a significant number of principals. There are many challenges for those in positions of principalship, but there are also many opportunities. Disturbingly, in many of our schools, there is a poisonous relationship between principals and the academic and support staff, which inevitably affects the teaching and learning process.
According to Michael Hooker, principal of Wentworth Falls Public School: "If principals are to move from managing into education leadership, then respectful, positive working relationships are a must." We should not underestimate the importance of principals who are highly and regularly visible within their school. A principal builds trust, credibility and earns the respect of his or her staff by being visible.
A principal must be viewed as being approachable and fair-minded by all stakeholders. Research shows that students value seeing their principals in different situations around the school. Our students need to see their principals walking the school grounds daily. Our students need to feel the principals' presence.
Our principals must walk the corridors of the school as well as the hide-out spots. Our principals must set the tone for our schools. Principals must be guided by the principle that schools are there to prepare students for their future, especially as we enter our 54th year of political Independence. It's a no-brainer! Non-performing schools usually have a weak top and middle management system in place.