New method needed for appointing principals
"TRAIN PRINCIPALS and tighten management" are two of the prescriptions that insurance executive and chairman of the Jamaica College School Board, R. Danny Williams, recommended as part of the drive to improve the output of high schools that are performing below standard.
He was addressing chairmen, members of school boards and principals representing the six rural-based high schools under the Centres of Excellence programme of the Mutual Building Societies Foundation, at a workshop held at the Courtleigh Hotel recently. The high schools represented included Porus, Mile Gully, McGrath, Green Pond, Godfrey Stewart, and Seaforth.
Williams, who welcomed Education Minister Andrew Holness' recent suggestion about training principals, said deficient management and leadership are the greatest problems many schools face, and recommended that school boards act fearlessly in appointing effective managers.
"One of the first things we did was to take a critical look at the management of the school," he admitted to the administrators and educators, as he spoke frankly about actions he took when he was appointed board chairman at Jamaica College.
He asserted that schools needed managers who care and are focused and determined to make a difference.
"Principals, in particular, carry a greater responsibility than business owners and company executives; and, therefore, need training to carry out their functions," he declared.
"When you have 1,800 students, teachers to manage, personnel problems, and vice-principals who don't have a clue about management, I can only say that some of you are magicians," he commented.
Williams added,"The method of appointing principals in some schools across the country must change."
He also noted that while natural leadership ability is good, it has to be supported by effective training.
"What happens usually in most schools is that a person is a very good teacher, they have no management training whatsoever; but, they just have some natural skill. So, they get appointed vice-principal and when a job gets advertised for a principal and they apply, they get the job. And, what happens is that they have had no training to run an organisation that is as big as the companies that are listed on the stock exchange," the insurance executive outlined.
Meanwhile, educator Radley Reid, in his presentation, supported that recommendation, noting that in addition to establishing various committees to manage the school plant and finances, boards should have an education committee to oversee the delivery of education in the school.
"This is where some boards fall down," said Reid. "Boards must be involved in the teaching and learning process. They must get exam results and they must get internal assessments because school is basically for teaching and learning."