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New qualifications for principals coming

Published:Wednesday | January 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

EDUCATORS WITHOUT special qualifications set out by the Education Ministry will not be considered for the leadership role of principal in schools, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has said.

"It is extremely important that while we respect seniority or other ascriptive requirements, what church you belong to, what politics you join can no longer play a part in determining educational leadership," declared Thwaites.

He told his colleague lawmakers yesterday in the House of Representatives that the Education Ministry was moving, at a future date, to make it mandatory for candidates applying to fill vacancies for principals to possess the Professional Qualification for Principalship.

In a statement, the education minister said the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL), which was established to address weaknesses in the area of school leadership and management, has been working aggressively to upgrade principals and senior school personnel to become effective instructional leaders.

Last year, the college trained 1,270 school leaders in a number of critical areas to improve student performance.

In addition to on-the-job training for educators in positions of leadership, NCEL is also preparing prospective principals through the Aspiring Principals Programme (APP). This nine-month post-graduate-level programme is delivered in partnership with the University of the West Indies.

The ministry awarded fellowships to 40 participants to pursue the APP. They are expected to be conferred with the Professional Qualification for Principalship this year.

Another 100 participants are now being recruited for the second phase of the APP.

Stressing the need for a dramatic shift in how principals are prepared for their tasks, Thwaites pointed out that the National Education Inspectorate found that 57 per cent of schools assessed up to June 2014 were rated as satisfactory and above in leadership and management. A little more than 43 per cent were deemed to be unsatisfactory.

Commenting on the need for more men in the education system, Thwaites said 91 per cent of all teachers in schools are women. "That's wonderful, but we need men, too, in the system. If we can encourage men of wholesome character to engage in the teaching profession, this is of great importance and, therefore, if there are such who may not be in it now, but would like to be, that would be extremely important."

In a Gleaner story last week, Thwaites said some principals who were clearly in need of leadership training were openly defying instructions to attend programmes at the NCEL.