Is the traditional school management model broken?
A review of media reports relating to schools over the past few months shows an emerging trend highlighting the fact that many school principals and executives are struggling to cope with workloads and are not receiving enough management training.
“Victorian Principals sent back to school to learn how to run finances” and “School principals struggling to cope with workloads” are just two such reports that were published in the past week.
The latter report emanates from Ireland where the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, as well as the Irish Primary Principals Association, addressed the Oireachtas Education Committee on their concerns about shortcomings in school leadership structures and the need for reform.
Their position was supported by a Department of Education spokesman, who said that local and national policy demands meant that there is a need for a change in how schools are managed.
In Australia, Principals and their executive staff face similar issues. Just in the last 5 years, many school Principals have had to deal with significant industrial relations changes, the introduction of harmonised workplace health & safety laws as well as the recent introduction of new privacy laws.
This is not to mention regular changes to non-government school registration requirements, as well as increasing social and commercial complexities bought about through the increased use of hand-held smart devices and social media.
Yet despite these changes, the traditional school management model has remained largely unchanged with a Principal supported by a deputy or two, focusing on education service delivery and a small team of administrators led by a business manager left to deal with everything from managing complex building projects to ensuring compliance with an increasingly complex range of legal and regulatory obligations.
To compound this problem, many heads of department are elevated from teaching positions to management positions with little or no management training. As one school executive recently said, “there is a big difference between being a good teacher and a good manager”.
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