Beyond the singular principal

Year: 2004

Author: Thomson, Pat

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

A growing body of international research suggests that teachers are deterred from applying for principal's positions because they see the job as too onerous, intrusive of family life and geared inappropriately to managerial, rather than educative tasks. In our study of declining principal supply in Australia, we have been exploring the normative construction of the principal position through policy, selection practices, and public representations of the job. We suggest that the principal position needs to be redesigned (and rearticulated) to attract not only more applicants but also allow a more culturally diverse group to both be and do the principalship. In this paper, I consider three instances in which the principalship has been explicitly redrawn: co-principalship, shared principalship, and a multi campus principalship. I examine the managerial systems that have been established in each case to allow a stronger focus on pedagogical leadership and tease out why some of the principals concerned describe their situation as 'the best job'.