Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar Cé go n-aontaím go h-iomlán go nGiorraíonn Beirt Bóthar, ní h-aon chóngar é an turas dá bhárr! This publication is a significant, important and timely contribution to a native literature on the challenges and increasing complexities of contemporary school leadership; it is a milestone with potential to contribute to capacity building at the level of the school as well as to national policy. Beidh an tuairisc seo mar bhata siúil ag muinteoirí uile is iad ag feidhmiú mar chuid de’n mheitheal chinnireachta. Dr Ciaran Sugrue, Director of Postgraduate Studies in Education, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra
With all the talk about distributive leadership there is hardly any reference in policy or research to the role of Deputy Principal. Gioraíonn Beirt Bóthar addresses this critical gap – a well written, comprehensive yet eminently practical treatment of the neglect and corresponding powerful potential contribution that Deputy Principals could make to school improvement. It blends perfectly the voices of deputies, and of Principals, and positions the results in a clear, actionable set of recommendations. Professor Michael Fullan, International Education Consultant, Toronto
Gioraíonn Beirt Bóthar offers a timely reflection on the role of the Deputy Principal, highlighting the immense potential of the role and signposting the need for real distribution of leadership in primary schools. Enhanced Principal–Deputy Principal Partnerships are not only desirable, but necessary in meeting current and future challenges Paddy Flood, National Coordinator, Leadership Development for Schools
A very timely contribution to debate about distributed leadership. IPPN combine their extensive knowledge of the intricacies of current issues faced by school leaders with a vision for the future based on research and a clear sense of the art of the possible. If the proposals are acted upon the future for leadership development in Irish primary schools is bright. Kate Griffin, President, International Confederation of Principals
Cuirim fáilte ó chroí roimh Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar. Leis na cianta, thuig na Gaeil go raibh omós ar leith tuillte ag an taoiseach, ach go raibh gá freisin le tánaiste chun ceannaireacht éifeachtach a chothú. The complexities and challenges facing schools require well developed systems for the delivery of effective leadership. Engaging the combined wisdom and expertise of Principal and Deputy Principal will often be essential, most especially in the larger school and in schools located in areas of socio-economic disadvantage. In this context, the proposals for action contained in this document merit careful consideration from all of the education partners. Dr Peadar Cremin, President, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick
Congratulations on this discussion paper which is both timely and worthwhile. It reflects the new way of thinking and talking about school leadership which emphasises the extent to which the enterprise is collective rather than singular. It moves beyond abstract concepts and theories of leadership and grapples with the real challenges facing schools and school leaders. Dr Pauric Travers, Uachtarán, Coláiste Phádraig
Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar Distributing Leadership – Deputy Principals
Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) January 2007
Published in 2007 by LĂonra+, Glounthaune, Co. Cork
ÂŠ IPPN. All rights reserved. ISBN: 978 0 9555050 0 3 Typesetting: Dominic Carroll, Ardfield, Co. Cork Printing: Collins Print, Cork Cover photo: Deirdre Costello, Principal and Donal Fallon, Deputy Principal (May 2006)
Context: The Leadership Challenge
Reeling in the Years: An Historical Perspective
Deputy Principal Reviewed: Current Research & Findings
Best Practice: The Views of Deputy Principals
A Vision for Shared Leadership: Creating Deputy Capacity
From Good to Great: A Plan of Action
Acknowledgements MANY PEOPLE have played a part in bringing this discussion paper to fruition. The main contributors have been Deputy Principals, through IPPN county networks and local support groups. Particular acknowledgement is due to the Deputy Principals who participated in the first conference in Galway in 2002 and its successor in Portlaoise in 2004. Appreciation is due in large measure to the many Principals on various national committees who were instrumental in the decision to extend membership of IPPN to Deputy Principals in 2002. This was led by Jim Hayes and subsequently by Virginia O’Mahony and Tomás O’Slatara. Their leadership and persistence was key to bringing the role to this stage of development and their understanding of distributed leadership has heavily influenced the thought-line on leadership that has unfolded in this document. Jim Hayes, for his foresight and wisdom in recognising the importance to IPPN and Principals to develop the role of Deputy Principal and in particular for his facilitation of the first Deputy Principals’ conference in Galway 2002. Jim’s understanding of the role of Deputy Principal was always inclusive of a distributed leadership vision for Principal and Deputy Principal, one which he successfully put into practice. Máire Áine Uí Aodha, for her skilled facilitation of the second conference of Deputy Principals in Portlaoise in 2004, out of which emerged a comprehensive picture of existing good practice. The data that was gathered and recorded has become a key influence on this paper. Sheelagh O’Leary for her inspirational workshops on the role of Deputy Principal at IPPN Principals’ conferences in 2004 and 2005.
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Terry Allen, Principal teacher in St Mochta’s National School, Clonsilla, who has within his own academic leadership journey completed a study entitled Two Heads are Better than One, An Examination and Analysis of the Role of the Deputy Principal in Irish Primary Schools. Terry’s research findings are referenced in Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar and this complements the wider view emerging from the action-research conducted by IPPN over a two-year period with approximately 200 Deputy Principals. Principals, Deputy Principals and others who have responded to the invitation to offer comment and review on the draft Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar document circulated in May 2006 prior to finalisation and publication. Paddy Flood and members of the Leadership Development for Schools team who have provided in a very practical way for the needs of Deputy Principals by initiating professional development programmes for newly appointed Deputy Principals. IPPN Deputy Principals’ Sub-committee, whose enthusiasm for professional progress played a significant part in the advancement of the role from 2002 to date. These include: Nora Kavanagh, Pádraic McKeon, Gretta O’Shea, Bernadette O’Grady, Bríd Cotter, Donal Fallon, Eileen Costello, Eva Buckley, Fergus Keegan, Fiona Power, Margaret Egan, Marie Murphy, Mary Rockett, Mary Cunningham, Sheelagh O’Leary, Zita Lysaght and Margaret Coffey. Caoimhe Máirtín who collated all views extending from conferences and leadership discussions that took place over the past four years. Caoimhe has also provided a comprehensive research review and academic comment on the topic. In consultation with Jim Hayes, Máire Áine Uí Aodha, IPPN executive, and others, Caoimhe has facilitated the writing of this paper on behalf of IPPN, and has sought to ensure that the voice of Deputy Principals permeates the document.
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Foreword No-one is wise enough by himself (Plautus) LEADERSHIP IS A JOURNEY rather than a position. The leadership journey requires an agreed destination, a vision, a plan, a road map, an accommodation of change, an element of interruption or delay along the journey, but also an anticipation of surprise and joy at what might be ahead and what is possible. The vision, the ease, the potential of any journey is best realised when one has a travelling companion, and it is for that reason that the title of this paper, Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar is apt in the context of seeking a shared leadership position for Principals and Deputy Principals in primary schools. The leadership journey in primary schools in recent years has been one of progress but missed opportunity. The vision for Principalship, and the leadership journey of Principals has received some attention and support, albeit that the road has become far more congested. The vision for Deputy Principal is less clear and less developed but offers huge potential in providing for a shared leadership dimension in schools. The reality is that in many cases both leaders are journeying but they are at different points on the leadership road. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the potential leadership role of Deputy Principals and to provide for a shared, distributed, co-leadership position for both Principal and Deputy Principal. Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar has been on its own journey. It was circulated as a draft discussion document in May 2006. The purpose – at that point – was to allow for reaction, response and recommendations from Deputy Principals and from Principals, but also from all those interested in, or responsible for, ensuring the leadership potential in schools is realised. This interim period
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has been very worthwhile not only in the extended comment offered on the document but, more importantly, on the opportunities provided for Principals and Deputy Principals to reflect on the potential of their leadership-partnership in education. There is something very simple, but profound, in the Roman comic and dramatist, Plautus’ statement that ‘No-one is wise enough by himself’. That is a key message that belongs to all of what this paper is about. The message is intended primarily for Deputy Principals, and for Principals. It does, however, reflect the work ethic that belongs with the IPPN team, a number of whom have contributed to the completion of this document and to whom I am most grateful for their enthusiasm, energy and refreshing honesty in responding, opposing and proposing until they feel that all options have been exhausted and the finest quality product has emerged. With this allure I invite you, the reader, to make your own journey through Giorraíonn Beirt Bóthar, and to reflect as you read on how we might realise the shared leadership vision for schools, and the repositioning of the role of Deputy Principal to provide for the distributed leadership potential of the roles of Principal and Deputy Principal. Go n-éirí le turas na léitheoireachta! Seán Cottrell
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1 Context The Leadership Challenge The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. (Max DePree, The Art of Leadership) SCHOOL LEADERSHIP, and the role of the Principal teacher, has benefited from reflection, consideration, recommendation, and indeed action in recent years. The Report of the Working Group on the Role of the Primary School Principal (1999) followed by the establishment of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (2000) has provided both opportunity and action in regard to reviewing and improving Principal teachers as leaders. The Leadership Development for Schools Initiative established in 2002 has upskilled and effected good leadership practice in schools. IPPN also commissioned two important pieces of work, the Haygroup Report, Defining the Role of the Primary Principal in Ireland (2003) and Quality Leadership⇔Quality Learning (2006), both supporting and professionalising the role of Principal. Professor Michael Fullan has made a compelling case for the interdependency of leadership and learning in assuring quality education in schools. In his paper Quality Leadership⇔Quality Learning his opening premise is referenced to school capacity which he defines as ‘the collective
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power of the full staff to work together to improve student learning . . .’ Is there a complementary and cooperative duality of function and role that recognises and supports the leadership duo of Principal and Deputy Principal in primary schools? More significantly, are the Principal and Deputy Principal aware of their dual-functioning potential? The fundamental issue in this paper is whether policy and practice to date has clarified, supported and encouraged a pivotal leadership-management position for Deputy Principals. Essentially, does the position of Deputy Principal maximise the potential for capacity building in schools? While policy review and shift in regard to In-School Management has received some attention, it would be reasonable to suggest that the team-leadership, shared-leadership, distributed-leadership, co-leadership potential in schools has so far been relatively untapped and unchallenged. Indeed, there are historical, organisational, administrative, and other reasons why Deputy Principals as a cohort could correctly feel that their positions, roles, duties, functions, challenges and opportunities remain unclear and undervalued. The purpose of this paper is to give voice to some of the issues, views, concerns and thoughts of Deputy Principals, to seek to support a team-focused partnership in school leadership, to promote a distributed leadership model for schools, to reflect on the importance of developing a leadership strategy for schools which potentially acknowledges all staff as leaders, but specifically promotes the shared leadership model for Principal and Deputy Principals. Most importantly it seeks to recognise and re-affirm Deputy Principals as creative thinkers, reflective practitioners and key partners in providing for quality leadership and quality learning in schools. The paper begins by offering a historical framework within which the policy-development of Deputy Principal is outlined. This is valuable in that it provides a time-line on where leadership has travelled. It also exposes a clear mismatch between a new and urgent development of agreed policy and legislative structures, and an ever-increasing dependency on the expansion of the Principal’s role with no similar response to defining the position of the Deputy Principal. Chapter 3 draws on recent academic research by a school Principal, Terry Allen, on the role of Deputy Principals in primary schools. His work gathers the wisdom of a wide number of educationalists in the realm of leadership in education. This research is recent, and is relevant
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to defining the role, and identifying the issues for and about Deputy Principals. The particular value of Terry Allenâ€™s research is that it draws on the experience and opinions of both Principals and Deputy Principals, thereby offering two valuable perspectives on the functioning and the effectiveness of the role of the Deputy Principal in schools. In seeking to give the main voice to Deputy Principals, the paper summarises a collation of views offered by Deputy Principals through IPPN networks and in particular through structured workshops conducted with Deputy Principals. Chapter 4 includes the reflections of Deputy Principals on the competencies required for their position, the areas of accountability that are theirs, the differences and challenges faced by Deputy Principals, the key indicators of effectiveness for the post, and the supports and structures that complement the post and ensure effectiveness. Where possible, the voice of the Deputy Principals is situated in the wider context of our understanding of co-leadership and team effectiveness. An additional dimension to challenging thinking and nudging forward action on the position of Deputy Principals is included in Chapter 5. Drawn from the wisdom well of good and effective leadership in education and elsewhere, the leadership-partnership of Principal and Deputy Principal are offered some key pointers in the form of action statements. These statements find resonance with the expressions of Deputy Principals, and indeed Principals. They provide a pathway for what can be achieved without any external supports or intervention. They offer Principals and Deputy Principals the challenge and the opportunity to contribute to capacity building in their schools. Finally, a series of modest proposals are recommended. These proposals are drawn in the main from the role challenges and shortfalls that Deputy Principals have outlined. They reflect well the wider view on promoting and supporting management effectiveness, and providing for quality leadership and learning in schools. They also derive from policy-deficit in defining and detailing the role of the Deputy Principals as key contributors to school effectiveness. They are intended not merely for discussion and reflection. They provide a framework for action that can be realised in a time-appropriate and resource-efficient manner. They will, if acted upon, provide learning outcomes for leadership and ensure not only good leadership, but great leadership in primary schools.
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2 Reeling in the Years: An Historical Perspective Leaders will be those who empower others. (Bill Gates) ‘ILL DEFINED’, ‘undeveloped’, ‘unclear’, ‘confused’ – these represent some of the terms that have been used to describe the role of Deputy Principal. It is perhaps an indicator of the untapped potential of this role that policy development and role definition has been left relatively untouched. Circular 16/73, a policy statement issued by the Department of Education, described the post of Vice/Deputy Principal as ‘required to assist the Principal teacher in the day to day organisation and supervision of the school’. Since this description which was presented to schools some 30 years ago, there has been no real policy or long term strategic development that specifically responds to the clear positioning of the role as a significant contributor to leadership and management in schools The term ‘team’ finds favour in providing for effective organisation of schools, for good management and planning, for communication and evaluation. A winning team – in any situation – requires that each member of the team has clearly defined duties and
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responsibilities, is valued and respected, is encouraged and supported as a leader / player / innovator / contributor, and has an opportunity to maximise the potential of the team. The dictionary definitions for ‘deputy’ include ‘a person appointed or empowered to act for another . . .’ and ‘an assistant exercising full authority in the absence of his/her superior’. It is interesting to note also the title in Irish as ‘leasphríomhoide’ or ‘príomhoide tánaisteach’. The word ‘leas’ has meaning as ‘vice’ or ‘deputy’, but also translates to perhaps a closer description of what is required, that of offering ‘good, wellbeing or benefit’. These descriptors are limited, however, and find resonance with the relatively few references within policy statements of the Department of Education and Science to the role of Deputy Principal almost all of which are situated within the ‘filling in / deputising’ framework.
2.1. Policy Development: An Historical Overview The new position of Vice Principal was first established in primary schools in Ireland in 1920 because so few promotional opportunities were open to assistant teachers. The Vice Principal is mentioned in the Rules for National Schools (Department of Education 1965, Rules 75, 76, 123). Rule 123 requires that the Principal (or in his absence, the Vice Principal, assistant, or junior assistant mistress as the case may be) must carefully carry out the instructions in Roll Book, Report Book and Register as to the keeping and care of school records . . . (pp. 71–2)
In December 1967, the Ryan Tribunal was established to recommend a common basic scale of salary for teachers in national, secondary and vocational schools and also to recommend what appropriate additions might be made to the basic scale in respect of qualifications, length of training, nature of duties and so on. The tribunal reported in 1968 recommending a Vice Principal and graded posts of responsibility on the basis of seniority instead of multiple Vice Principalships. Prior to 1970, the vast majority of Principal teachers were full-time teachers and their bureaucratic functions as outlined in Rule 123 above existed mainly to satisfy the demand of
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the Department of Education. Following the introduction of the Primary School Curriculum in 1972, the role of the Principal teacher changed significantly. Specifically mentioned were conferences of staff members, a school plan of work and coordination of the work of the school. These responsibilities therefore initiated a dual role of administrative and day to day responsibilities for the Principal, and for the Vice Principal in the absence of the Principal. Circular 16/73 (DES 1973) identified three aspects to the role of the Deputy Principal namely assisting the Principal in the day today organisation and supervision of the school, teaching duties, and assignment of specific duties by the Principal. These guidelines however have not been developed to give a distinctive identity to the role of the Deputy. No attempt is made in Circular 16/73 to elaborate on the requirement of the Deputy Principal to assist the Principal in the day to day organisation and supervision of the school. The Green Paper on Education: Education for a Changing World (Government of Ireland 1992), proposed that the Principal be supported by the Vice Principal and holders of posts of responsibility. Critically however, and in what was seen as a radical departure at the time, The Green Paper (1992) recommended that appointments to posts of Vice Principal should be based on competition and merit rather than on
Appointments to arriving at the position through seniority as was the posts of Vice Principal accepted procedure. The Report on the National should be based on Education Convention (Coolahan 1994) also proposed that competition and qualifications and track record of candidates rather than merit seniority would be the main criteria for appointments to posts as
Vice Principal. The Convention Report (Coolahan 1994) did note that ‘while the role of the Principal is relatively well defined, that of the Vice Principal is rather vague’. (p. 46) The White Paper on Education: Charting our Education Future (Government of Ireland 1995) sought to redefine the role of Vice Principals by recommending the provision of opportunities for them to assume responsibility for instructional leadership, curriculum development, the management and development of staff and the academic and pastoral work of the school in
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order to reduce the considerable workload of the Principal. The White Paper 1995 referred to the Principal and Vice Principal working as a ‘cohesive management unit’. (p. 154) Three further policy statements followed on the publication of the White Paper. Implementing the Agenda for Change (Government of Ireland 1996) proposed a restructuring of in-school management and re-grading of the post structures to ensure that the pastoral curricular and administrative needs of schools were met. Circular 6/97 (Department of Education 1997) resulted from the Agreement of Pay and Conditions of Teachers in the Programme for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) 1996. This circular outlined an increase in the number of posts of responsibility in almost every school and the creation of an in-school management structure that would include Deputy Principal (formerly Vice Principal), assistant Principals (formerly A-Post Holders), and special duties teachers (formerly B-Post Holders). Under the terms of Circular 6/97, the criteria for selection of the successful candidate for Deputy Principal and post holder was to be based on (i) capability and willingness to undertake the duties attaching to the post, (ii) length of service or experience in the school and (iii) interest in a particular area within the list of duties. The Education Act (Government of Ireland 1998) sets out the statutory responsibilities of the Principal in Sections 22-24, but does not set out any defined role for the Deputy Principal. The weight of legislative responsibility, without a directed inclusiveness of the Deputy Principal, has not helped in providing a shifting and sharing of co-responsibility for day-to-day management of the school away from the Principals and towards a leadership-partnership in schools.
Position of Vice Principal Established
Rules for National Schools
DES Circular 6/73
DES Circular 06/97
DES Circular 07/03
The Primary School Curriculum (1999) acknowledges a role for the Deputy Principal in curriculum leadership and planning albeit that this refers a delegated role to all post-holders including the Deputy Principal, but does not suggest any scope for a more developed distributed leadership between Principal and Deputy Principal:
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the process of curriculum development requires the development of procedures and structures within the school that will facilitate a process of consistent curriculum and organisational planning, this should include the delegation of relevant responsibilities to Deputy Principals, Assistant Principals and Special Duties Teachers. (p. 19)
The impact of curriculum reform, and in particular the management of inservice, and inschool curriculum planning within the same time-frame as the issuing of Circular 6/97 suggested an instructional leadership responsibility for the Deputy Principal, possibly to the detriment of seeking a balance on other aspects of leadership. The Report of the Working Group on the Role of the Principal (Department of Education 1999) set out the role of the Deputy Principal in a much broader context. Specifically it referred to:
· The important role of the Deputy Principal in supporting the Principal in his/her management role; ·
Particular attention being given to the evolving role of the Deputy Principal.
These references to the potential that could, and should, be realised by Deputy Principals as contributors to effective leadership and management in schools was somewhat acknowledged when the provision of revised in-school management structures were addressed in Circular 07/03 (DES). This policy statement – which superseded all previous circulars – is interesting in that it contains a number of implications for Deputy Principals which were not clear in Circular 6/97. Circular 7/03 does acknowledge the team leadership of Principal and Deputy Principal and refers to the Deputy Principal as a member of senior management, reaffirming the status that was given to the post some thirty years earlier in Circular 16/73. Sections 7-10 of the 2003 policy statement says that if no suitable applicant applies for a long-term post of acting Principal, then the Deputy Principal must act for the Principal or in so refusing to do, risk losing the Deputy Principal allowance for the duration of the acting post. The significance attached to the role of Deputy Principal is contained in Sections 8 and 14 whereby Deputy Principals cannot combine shared ex-quota posts, job sharing and Home School Community Liaison with appointment to Deputy Principal. Section 14 (c) also states that ‘the appointment of a Deputy
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Principal to a special education post, which consequently erodes tuition time, may result in the Department insisting on the re-allocation of a special education post’. (Section 14 (c)) Interestingly also, the publication of Fifty School Reports: What Inspectors Say (DES, B 2003) – which was published within the same time frame as the issuing of Circular 7/03 purporting to give renewed attention and significance to in-school management structures and to the role of the Principal – cites ‘the work of Deputy Principals, assistant Principals and holders of special duties posts is commented on in just under half the reports.’ (p. 7) This pattern follows in In Looking At Our Schools – An Aid to Self Evaluation in Primary Schools (DES, C 2003) where reference is only made to ‘post holders’, ‘staff’, ‘in-school management’. (p. 8) The historical overview provided here to the evolving role of the Deputy Principal is intended to explain, rather than to support, the role as
What is most evident is a sequence of missed opportunities and undeveloped potential for leadership
currently exercised in most schools. Deputy Principals have not been appropriately positioned in the management structure of Irish primary schools. What is most evident is a sequence of missed opportunities and undeveloped potential for leadership. The facts need no distortion and little
distillation. What is required is to move forward and see how open
Principals and Deputy Principals are to a correct repositioning of the role of Deputy Principal.
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3 Deputy Principal Reviewed: Current Research & Findings The structural characteristics of learning organisations are permeability, flexibility, and network intimacy. (McGill and Slocum, Organizational Dynamics) THE HISTORICAL TIME-LINE citing policy development – or otherwise – of the post of Deputy Principal is best situated in a context whereby the internal in-school perception on leadership is also analysed and reviewed. Are Deputy Principals and Principals consciously or unconsciously promoting the ‘cohesive management unit’ referred to in The White Paper on Education (1995)? Have opportunities been provided for Deputy Principals to assume responsibility for instructional leadership, curriculum development, staff management, and pastoral care as referred to in the White Paper? Have support structures been provided? Is there any real shift in thinking on the part of school management, Principal teacher, staff, or indeed Deputy Principals that is making a difference to quality leadership and quality learning in schools? Terry Allen offers a somewhat unique perspective on some of these matters, and in particular on aspects of the role of Deputy Principal. He is within the small cohort of people who have
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conducted focused research on the position of Deputy Principals in Irish primary schools. He has significant leadership experience as Principal in four different schools ranging from a small rural school where both Principal and Deputy Principal were combining full-time teaching duties with management-leadership to large urban schools with a full-time administrative role for the Principal and full-time teaching role for the Deputy Principal. Allen’s action research – which included detailed interviews with, and analysis of the role of, 12 Deputy Principals – was conducted during the period 2003-2004 and encompassed an inquiry into the perceived role, workloads, relationship, and leadership dimension of the position of Deputy Principal. His study examined and analysed the role of the Deputy Principal in supporting and developing professional learning communities in schools. He examined the roleevolvement of the position of Deputy Principal in the absence of role definition, the leadership response of Deputy Principals particularly the relationship between Principal and Deputy Principal as ‘co-workers’ or ‘partners in leadership’ providing for improved teacher efficacy and student learning, and the impact of legislative, curricular and societal changes on reshaping the potential role of Deputy Principal. Allen’s findings identified a clear leadership role for the Deputy Principal in cooperation and partnership with the Principal teacher. The variation in practice of a deputy-leadership role confirmed the ill-defined nature of the post, but there was agreement that the core-response to their leadership function was that of (i) supporting, assisting and deputising for Principals, (ii) consulting and liaising with the Principal on the day to day running of the school, and (iii) cooperating with the Principal and the staff. Allen makes a compelling case for a synchronicity of roles of both Principal and Deputy Principal workload and rotation of duties is encouraged in order to ensure that the deputising function is effective. Deputising assumes that the Deputy has not only the obligation and the responsibility, but also the competence and the confidence, to assume all duties and responsibilities of the Principal teacher in circumstances that can be very demanding, given that the nature of deputising generally arises in unplanned and uncoordinated circumstances. The findings of Allen’s research confirm that in reality Deputy Principals’ delegated duties are generally of a routine and lower-order nature and do not enhance leadership status either in the presence or
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absence of the Principal. Indeed in many instances Deputy Principals have less defined areas of responsibility than post-holders as they ‘stand-by to step-up’. This undervaluing of the potential role of Deputy Principals is compounded, according to Allen, by three further issues – the over-vesting of authority in the Principal to the exclusion of the Deputy Principal, the impact legislation has had in shaping the role of the Principal again to the exclusion of the Deputy Principal, and the reluctance of some Principals to distribute leadership coupled also with a reluctance on the part of some Deputy Principals to acknowledge and/or assume a leadership response. Indeed Allen’s research evidence suggests that Deputy Principals generally see their role as one of shared but qualified responsibility. Consequently, the role is filled by the degree to which personalities in the role choose to interpret their leadership responsibility. Ultimately this means that the exercising of a leadership role for the Deputy is dependant on good working relationships with all members of staff but especially with the Principal. It also depends to a large extent on role-expectation as determined by policy, and indeed Allen would contend from his research findings that there is a mismatch between intent and action on the part of the Department of Education and Science following the issuing of Circular 7/03. No flexibility has been shown by the Department of Education and Science to deputies in the exercising of their leadership role. There have been no concessions in terms of time consideration and class allocation. All deputies interviewed lamented the lack of time to fulfil their duties . . . Principals too lamented this fact . . .
This failure to respond meaningfully to the structural prerequisites for supporting an enhanced leadership position for Deputy Principals in primary schools is at variance with the position of Deputy Principals at second level who have allocated time through an agreed reduction of teaching hours. A more complex situation presents itself for primary schools whereby 73% of schools have Principals with full-time teaching duties. The current situation for the majority of Principals and Deputy Principals in primary schools is akin to providing a flight plan, a passenger list, a safety and emergency-response plan, and then requiring the leadership team to operate as full-time cabin crew.
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Providing effective team-leadership, as distinct from providing a holding operation on management, requires that the policy statements on the roles of both Principals and Deputy Principals receive a resource action-response that provides for realistic release time for both Principals and Deputy Principals in all schools. In the case of Deputy Principals appropriate release time, flexibility in allocation of teaching responsibilities, and agreed minimum leadership-time allocation for Principals and deputies so that they can work together to provide an effective team leadership, are essential. Allen’s conclusions are supported by other research findings in Ireland and elsewhere confirming that the critical issue is about giving schools at local level flexibility both in terms of resource provision and role interpretation. The study indicated a generally positive relationship between the Principals and Deputy Principals within his research cohort. Allen’s research identified collegial relationships of consultation, negotiation and team work as
The ideal relationship between duties, curriculum, co-ordination and on-going meetings the Deputy and Principal between the Principal and Deputy. The ideal relationship was characterised by between the Deputy and Principal was characterised by partnership and partnership and mutuality, which confirmed that the ideal role relationship was not that of the Deputy being a relatively mutuality workplace practices that occurred in relation to assignment of
unimportant shadow of the Principal but rather one with both playing dual roles, heightening the need for effective communication, in sharing out the leadership responsibilities. Allen wisely cautions, however, about the consequence of a poorly defined role for Deputy Principals. The definition-deficit allows for an over-reliance on personality styles, the consequence being that staff perceptions of the Deputy is that of a resource, a sounding board, a broker, a buffer, a diffuser, a confidante, and a counsellor. If disharmony arises, a time-rich Deputy Principal whose leadership has been channelled into the listening/caring role, and a time-poor Principal who is generally focused on management/decisions/actions can find divisions emerging and the model then becoming more ‘trade union’ rather than relationship driven leadership. This is unfair to both Principal and Deputy Principal, and indeed to the staff,
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and clearly arises from the absence of structures for the development of the leadership-role of Deputy Principal. The consequence is that an understandable strain is placed on both parties, preventing them from looking beyond the personality to the leadership potential of two heads being better than one in providing a ‘cohesive management unit’ for the school. In seeking to develop the role of Deputy Principal, it is clear from the trawl of relevant literature, supported by detailed analysis and interviews with his research cohort, that the conclusions drawn by Allen find resonance in best management/leadership practice in other areas of education and beyond. A number of recommendations emerge as potential leadership areas for Deputy Principals. One area that is ripe for Deputy Principals to develop and manage is the instructional leadership potential that arises from the introduction of the Revised Primary Curriculum (1999). The delegation of responsibility in this area to Deputy Principals as ‘curriculum coordinators’ is cited in the curriculum; the planning and management of curriculum provides an ideal opportunity for Deputy Principals to assume responsibility for curriculum management and exercise an instructional leadership role in the school. Allen’s discussion with Principals indicates on their part a strong willingness to facilitate a process of curricular and organisational planning which would provide a leadership role for Deputy Principals, and Deputy Principals also express a keenness to provide leadership in this area. Another area which Deputy Principals felt they might contribute meaningfully to is the area of human resource management. This has become an increasingly complex area within schools, and one which many Principals state is possibly the most demanding on their time-resources. This would be an ideal area, if appropriate professional development were provided, to introduce and develop co-leadership and co-responsibility between Principals and Deputy Principals. It is also an area that would clearly benefit from the two-head support structure and should impact on staff’s perceptions of the role of Principal and Deputy Principal being a partnership role and a sharing of real leadership responsibilities. In drawing some conclusions from Allen’s work, and looking to the future, one of the interesting, yet worrying, issues that presented was that two-thirds of the Deputy Principals
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involved in the research indicated that they would not apply for the post of Principal. This is not surprising given research conducted by IPPN in 2003-2004 on the challenge of recruiting and retaining Principals which identified a clear overload issue for Principals and an ‘un-doable’ job description. It is the Deputy Principal who has vantage point in observing the role of Principal, and in the side-line view available to them they are not being coached towards the post, nor do they have an appropriately positioned job-specification to allow them to grow towards the position. The absence of any meaningful professional development for Deputy Principals, the lack of structured appraisal or affirmation of their role, the clear absence of policy development for distributed leadership is undervaluing the position of the Deputy Principal. This does not provide for a secure base for Deputy Principals to aspire to being future school leaders. Indeed it appears that the neglect of the appropriate positioning of Deputy Principal in schools is contributing to the increasing reduction in applicants to the post of Principal. On a more positive note, where networking or other constructive actions have been initiated to support and promote Deputy Principals, the outcome has been very positive. Such initiatives have begun in pockets and have received support from Education Centres, INTO, Leadership Development for Schools and IPPN. There is, however, a need for a policy development that acknowledges the professional development needs of Deputy Principals, and the partnershipleadership of Deputy Principals and Principals. Deputies are clear in their willingness to take ownership of their role and enhance its status and development. They appear in essence to recognise the validity of Fullan’s view on school leadership . . . the complex nature of school management today requires leadership to be shared between two or more people rather than entrusted to one person . . .
Terry Allen’s research complements the views of Fullan and others. The added value of Allen’s work is that his findings are grounded in the real experiences of Principals and Deputy Principals. The case has been well-made regarding the gap that exists between the management role of Principalship and the leadership potential of co-Principalship. It is now appropriate to dig a little deeper into the key issues that belong to the role of the Deputy Principal.
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4 Best Practice: The Views of Deputy Principals An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organisational success. (Stephen R. Covey, Principle-Centered Leadership) SINCE THE DEPARTMENT of Education and Science policy statement on In-School Management in July 2003, IPPN has also had the opportunity to conduct some action research on the role of Deputy Principal, the main aspect of this research work being some focus-group interviews with Deputy Principals. The objective of the research work was to provide a catalyst for Deputy Principals to describe, review and reflect on the functions of their post, and to bring into sharper focus the need to determine policy in the area. The compilation of views that follow belong to a core group of approximately 150 Deputy Principals, a representative sample of all school types and sizes. The main purpose of the focusgroup discussions was to establish and measure indicators of effectiveness for the leadership position of Deputy Principal in primary schools. The effectiveness-measure was determined through dialogue and discussion around six key issues:
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· What competencies are required for the post? · How can these competencies be applied to ensure effectiveness? · What areas of accountability appropriately belong to the role? · What structures and systems support and enhance effectiveness? · How might challenging leadership issues be overcome to ensure effectiveness? ·
Where/how might differentiation apply in defining the role?
It is a tribute to Deputy Principals and also to Principals that despite the delay in clarifying the duties, functions and responsibilities of the post of Deputy Principal, the incumbents have high expectations, and a high-level understanding of the professional response that they acknowledge belongs to this position in schools.
4.1. Competencies and Effectiveness The role definition deficit as described earlier explains some of the frustration that Deputy Principals cite in describing the competencies they believe are required for the post. Competencies can best be outlined when the post is well defined. Within the team management approach that is espoused for schools, the reality is that Principals and post-holders generally enjoy a clearly defined role, coupled with a list of agreed duties and responsibilities. Deputy Principals on the other hand can be found swinging from high-relevancy when needed, to almost being displaced or disregarded. It is understandable in such circumstances that Deputy Principals might become disillusioned, dismayed and demotivated. Deputy Principals cite the requirements for their post as falling within three key areas – leadership-based competencies, management-focused competencies and personal effectiveness. It is significant that Deputy Principals identified the leadership-based competencies as of particular relevance to their position. These leadership functions include:
· having a vision and a sense of responsibility and co-ownership for the post; · having an enthusiasm to contribute to leadership; · having the ability and confidence to make decisions, to delegate appropriately and to communicate effectively;
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· having the ability to offer good judgement necessitating a well-informed base on policies and planning both internally and externally;
· having a well-informed professional knowledge coupled with being knowledgeable on school matters; ·
offering flexibility and adaptability thus maximising leadership effectiveness.
Deputy Principals acknowledged that these leadership competencies need to be supported by a management-focused range of skills such as:
· good and effective time-management; · administrative and organisational skills; · good perception and sound judgement; · offering a fair, firm and consistent response to others; ·
valuing others, and having the ability to work well under pressure. Effective leadership and good management require a range of personal attributes. Deputy Principals often find themselves challenged as they attempt to understand their role and accept others’ lack of
Effective leadership and good management require a range of personal attributes
understanding of it; they often become a conduit between the Principal as leader and other staff members; support and/or deputise for the Principal usually for unplanned absences, and continue to teach full-time regardless of the complications, constraints or challenges that may arise. This requires a skills’ set beyond the educational-administrative-
management role. Deputy Principals identified personal effectiveness in terms of interpersonal skills such as:
· being motivated, positive, enthusiastic and dedicated; · being empathetic, caring and kind, discrete, diplomatic, tactful and wise; · being honest, trustworthy, approachable and loyal; · having good self-awareness, self-belief, self-worth and self-esteem;
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· being open and accepting of constructive review; ·
being an effective teacher and learner, and having a good sense of humour.
4.2. What Constitutes Effectiveness in Leadership? Effective leadership skills are at the heart of good management. Research conducted on leadership in areas other than education indicates that effective teams can produce powerful performances only when the leadership has
clear shared purpose and direction;
clarity of roles, clear thinking and planning;
creativity and flexibility, commitment and involvement;
· feedback and review, focus and persistence; · an ability to learn from mistakes; · an open and honest partnership; · opportunities to question, to listen, to challenge and to support; ·
clearly defined and managed processes;
decisiveness, energy, enthusiasm, humour and fun.
One of the concerns for and about the role of Deputy Principal is again the missed opportunities to appropriately situate the position of Deputy Principal within a key leadership role in the school. In 1999, the White Paper on Education, Charting Our Education Future acknowledged the interdependence of Principal and staff in delegated leadership roles within a school but did not refer to the significant leadership potential, and responsibility of the Deputy Principal. Effective management and leadership at all levels within the school are essential if the school’s goals are to be met . . . However competent a Principal may be as an administrator or as an organiser, s/he will not succeed without involving other staff in delegated leadership roles. (Charting Our Education Future: White Paper on Education, p. 151)
Despite the confused, diminished and often disregarded role of the Deputy Principal, those in the position clarified their view of what might provide for effectiveness as requiring good
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communication, knowledge and confidence, an interdependent partnership, good interpersonal skills, a good sense of self-confidence and self-esteem, and opportunities for professional development. Their understanding of what might provide for quality leadership and effectiveness is very similar to the broader research indicators within education and elsewhere. Communication included good and effective communication between the Principal and the Deputy Principal. It also required the availability and flexibility for Deputy Principals to communicate with the partners in education, and maximising opportunities to develop good relationships with the school community. Knowledge and Confidence required:
· a good understanding and awareness of school policies, practices, decisions and actions; · a confidence and competence regarding the roles and responsibilities of the post of Deputy Principal;
· knowledge and opportunities to communicate with partners in education, and opportunities to develop good relationships with the school community; ·
clear and effective administration of the role (which presumed a role definition would or should be available) and an awareness of the enhanced duty of care associated with the post.
Partnership and Team Work was a high-relevancy point in ensuring effectiveness. Deputy Principals’ indicated this required:
· having management and administrative responsibilities clearly and effectively delegated; · having decisions made by the Deputy Principal respected and being valued as partners in the day-to-day management of the school;
· having their contribution as worker, communicator, administrator and listener respected; ·
having a positive image of the post presented, and having a positive attitude to team work.
Partnership was essential to providing for effectiveness in post, and Deputy Principals also acknowledged the contribution required from them in supporting the leadership role of the Principal. A visible team entity was required from both parties. Interpersonal Effectiveness necessitated having the trust and confidence of the Principal and
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staff of the school, being sensitive, approachable and alert to issues and concerns, and engaging with the role in a flexible, open and responsive manner. Linked with this was the area of selfconfidence and self-esteem which meant having opinions and judgements valued and respected by the Principal and others, and being included and consulted in the decision-making process. Finally, Deputy Principals acknowledged the importance of availing of opportunities, and being provided with opportunities, to engage in relevant Professional Development, thereby improving knowledge, self-confidence and self-esteem.
4.3. Defining and Determining Accountability The complex nature of ‘deputising’ suggests an unlimited role in terms of extended accountability, at least during the absence of the Principal either incidentally or indeed for planned professional absence (e.g. attending meetings, seminars) and also during periods of personal leave. The importance, however, of identifying and naming professionally appropriate areas of accountability provided for a wide–range of discussion and response. Deputy Principals acknowledged the accountability role they had, but indicated that this could have most effect in a climate of co-partnership with the Principal on clearly defined areas of planning, policy development and school organisation and in other delegated areas of responsibility. Co-partnership with the Principal would ideally encompass:
· a partnership of accountability and transparency in all aspects of school life; · inclusion and consultation in the decision-making process; · discussion and contribution on matters such as class allocation, mentoring and induction for teaching, support and administrative staff;
· being key and effective members of the school management team; ·
having a visible team entity in operation between the Principal and Deputy Principal.
Planning and Policy Development would require Deputy Principals to be accountable for areas such as:
· curricular planning, IT coordination, special needs, Gaeilge, pastoral care;
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· the implementation of agreed enrolment policies; · policy development on attendance; ·
recording and communicating on policy implementation.
School Organisation – while in the main being the day-to-day responsibility of the Principal was an area that immediately fell to the Deputy Principal in the absence of the Principal. Deputy Principals acknowledged this as a defined, but ideally shared, area of accountability. Other aspects of school organisation that might appropriately be delegated to the Deputy Principal were:
· management of roll books, registers, school records; · time-management in the form of timetabling for curriculum areas; · other time-management such as yard rota, supervision of children; · arranging and managing the timetabling of SNAs; · management of special educational needs; · management and organisation of ancillary staff; · assessment of new pupils; · management of issues pertaining to school transport; · communication with a parent liaison person; ·
being accountable as the health and safety representative in the school.
Accountability in other specific areas included:
· responsibility in the absence of the Principal (or when otherwise agreed); · responsibility for medical files, assessment records etc.; ·
being the designated liaison person in the school and having responsibility for dealing with the Welfare Board.
Deputy Principals expected that their role would include being trusted with responsibilities and having the assurance and confidence of the Principals that they would complete their tasks and responsibilities.
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4.4. Structures and Supports to Improve Effectiveness An outcome of the focus-group discussions that has not to date been voiced but was a strong issue was the extent to which Deputy Principals indicated that isolation was a significant issue for them in their role. This appears to
Very few formal structures is, and from a presumption that they are well informed on the policies and practices of the school. Very few formal are in place to ensure structures are in place to ensure effective effective communication communication between Principal and Deputy Principal. It between Principal and is not therefore surprising that when Deputy Principals were Deputy Principal derive in the main from an absence of clarity as to what their role
asked what support structures were required to help them to be effective in their role most responses referred to a communication deficit. Areas of Communications that would support Deputy Principals in being more effective in their role included:
· regular meetings between the Principal and Deputy Principal; · regular in-school management meetings and staff meetings; · role-review, role-appraisal, affirmation and ‘feedback’; ·
support from Principal and management for their position and for their work.
Specific Support Structures that Deputy Principals indicated they would value in their role included:
· prioritising release time from class and paid substitute cover on occasions to progress specific areas of the role of Deputy Principal;
· having the duties of Deputy Principal, and the duties of all other post-holders, clearly defined and displayed;
· having school support services such as secretarial support, supply panel to ease and support the leadership development potential of Deputy Principals, and of the team leadership of Principal and Deputy Principal; ·
having opportunities to lead –rather than support leadership.
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Deputy Principals believed that experiencing leadership would help them to understand the challenges that management and decision-making present while the Principal is present in the school, rather than only having such responsibilities in the absence of the Principal. Examples such as chairing staff meetings, communication and policy development arising from circulars issued by the Department of Education and Science were mentioned.
4.5. Overcoming Challenging Leadership It is heartening to hear the many descriptors of good leadership practice, co-partnership and appropriately distributed leadership experiences between Principals and Deputy Principals or between the management team (post holders) and the staff as described by Deputy Principals in their discussion groups. They were, however, asked to focus on the issue of challenging leadership – identifying the contributors and outlining some recommendations that might help to overcome difficulties. Where challenges emerged the underlying causes appeared to revert invariably to communication, purpose, clarification and cooperation. Deputy Principals were forthcoming in describing their experiences of challenging situations, and their understanding of what was required to overcome challenging team leadership. Their suggestions focused on seeking clarity of purpose and focusing on ‘team leadership’ rather than individual responsibilities, Clarity of Purpose required school management in collaboration with Principals, Deputy Principals and staff to:
· formulate an agreed vision/mission statement for the school – and to clarify roles and responsibilities within the school community. This required the wide-lens inclusive approach of acknowledging the contributions of many people to the school, but it specifically required a clear definition of roles, and delegation of duties to Principal, Deputy Principal and post-holders;
· discuss, agree and confirm decisions at team/staff/management meetings, and to use when possible the whole-staff as the forum for decision-making, while respecting the Principal’s role in making decisions. This was considered an important element in avoiding or overcoming difficulties;
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clearly identify issues, and respond to the issues, as well as agreeing procedures to avoid repeated difficulties.
Deputy Principals felt, however, that key to maintaining a clarity of purpose – and that purpose ultimately being the provision of quality learning – was the necessity to regularly evaluate successes, achievements, outcomes and challenges. Focusing on TEAM to overcome challenges found resonance with Deputy Principals. They suggested that team-focus should:
· encourage and promote a visible and functional team image which would require regular team meetings where concerns are communicated, and dialogue and discussion would follow to seek resolution; ·
promote a collaborative culture in less contentious areas such as curriculum and organisational policies which could provide opportunities for all staff to be respectful and supportive of each other, and accepting and accommodating of differing views.
Deputy Principals were aware of the necessity – and sometimes the difficulty – of maintaining an objectivity on issues and of being open to, and respectful of other opinions. They acknowledged their responsibility in helping to anticipate what might become challenging and of engaging proactively rather than reactively. This required being fair, loyal and sensitive, and accentuating a positive culture such as encouraging, praising, and complementing when possible. The importance of regular communication and cooperation between Principal and Deputy Principal was strongly emphasised, as was the value of time-appropriateness when challenging situations could best be discussed and resolved. It was agreed that on occasions it would be appropriate or necessary to seek external professional support, advice or facilitation.
4.6. Differentiation within the Role of Deputy Principal A final area explored was that of the differences that existed between schools on the role of Deputy Principal. They were asked in particular to reflect on those areas that provide for difference between the role of the Deputy Principal working with a teaching Principal and that
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of a Deputy Principal in a larger school where the Principal has a full-time administrative post. Indeed the greatest concern expressed by Deputy Principals was not for their own situation but for their leader-colleagues who were teaching Principals. However they were also aware that their own role was influenced by school type, school size, and by the administrative supports available to the Principal and to the school in general. Deputy Principals agreed that – regardless of the school type or size – the duties, functions and areas of accountability assigned to all of them were broadly similar. They were also in agreement that a Principal’s absence led to significant disruption for the Deputy Principal’s class, and this was exacerbated in situations where Principals were on agreed professional absences with no substitute cover provided to release the Deputy Principal for administrative duties. The expectation in larger schools was that teachers, pupils, parents and the school community had access during the day to the Principal. These situations in particular were highly stressful to Deputy Principals and provided for significantly reduced effectiveness in both the administrative and teaching areas. Deputy Principals in such circumstances found themselves constantly balancing the proactive and reactive dimensions of the role. Deputy Principals in smaller schools felt they had a challenging range of duties with less time and opportunity to meet and discuss these. However, they acknowledged that teaching Principals can be more realistic in their demands and expectations of Deputy Principals. Where more tasks appeared to be assigned in smaller schools the execution of the tasks was generally easier because of smaller pupil and teacher numbers coupled with easier overall management and communication within the school. There was a greater feeling of community involvement in some of the smaller schools, and staff meetings and decision-making were generally easier for the leadership team of Principal and Deputy Principal. Lack of definition and specificity was cited in smaller schools because of the full-time teaching responsibilities of the Principal; Deputy Principals in smaller schools felt that they tend to be ‘used’ for all eventualities. In larger schools it was felt that the Deputy role was usually more defined, involved more work and more responsibilities, and required more regular and more formal meetings with the Principal. All Deputy Principals – regardless of school size – were concerned about the overall lack of supports and structures for their role, given that they
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estimated they could be in acting-Principal-role for at least 20 days (approximately 10% of the teaching year). The availability, for example, of full-time effective secretarial services – usually unavailable in smaller schools – was considered to be an invaluable asset to the leadership-role in schools, and in particular to reducing the challenges faced by Deputy Principals managing the dual function of Principal and Deputy Principal in the absence of the Principal. The six key issues addressed in this chapter provide for some heartening basis on which to build into the future. Deputy Principals have indicated their understanding of the necessity to develop a leadership partnership in schools, they offer a very strong sense of professionalism and commitment – despite the challenges of their post, and they have produced some fresh thinking around leadership and the contribution they seek to make to effectiveness in schools. It is now timely to clarify the leadership response that can be developed from within, and also the leadership response that is required from elsewhere to support and progress quality and effectiveness through the role of Deputy Principal.
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5 A Vision for Shared Leadership: Creating Deputy Capacity We must become the change we want to see. (Mahatma Gandhi) KNOWING WHAT MAKES for leadership excellence, and finding it difficult to respond appropriately in order to provide for what Fullan describes as the ‘capacity building’ in schools, must leave the leadership unit of Principal and Deputy Principal somewhat disillusioned. It is a tribute to Deputy Principals that they have identified so many of the key requisites that make for excellence in leadership, although they have had little opportunity to realise the full potential of their own leadership role. As they grapple to keep their head above water, it may appear inappropriate to now look beyond the horizon and imagine what could be realised if only . . . The ‘if-only’ section of this paper is more clearly defined in the final chapter where issues and recommendations are outlined. This section however nudges Deputy Principals in particular, but also Principals, to look beyond the horizon and to agree some of what is possible even within the
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current restraints on the role of Deputy Principal. Regardless of any resource issues, supports structures, or policy developments, there are improvements that will only be made if Deputy Principals and Principals respond to the leadership within . . . that which only as a consequence of effective leadership allows schools to move from being good schools to being great schools. What follows as leadership prompts for Deputy Principals and their Principals are not drawn down as challenges, but are a compilation of some of the aspirations voiced by Deputy Principals. Leadership is not something you do ‘to’ people – it is something you do ‘with’ people The management culture in most workplaces has moved from being one of individual responsibility to shared responsibilities. The role of Deputy Principal can only be effective when the Principal and Deputy Principal begin to work and plan together. Shared leadership requires openness on the part of Principals, and willingness on the part of Deputy Principals, to co-lead and to distribute leadership responsibility in a manner that encourages and supports partnership. Shared leadership requires a shared vision Principals and Deputy Principals need to have an agreed shared vision not only for the school, but for their co-leadership role. There is a responsibility on both Deputy Principals and Principals to establish a shared understanding of what they are about and how they intend to get there. Without a clear vision for the school, and for the leadership of the school, everybody’s position becomes less clear and more challenging. Effective leadership cannot be realised in the absence of good communication Deputy Principals have expressed their concern about lack of clarity on their own role, and an absence of effective communication with them as significant partners in leading and managing the school. Principals and Deputy Principals need to become more aware of the information-gaps that only they can fill. Communication to, from and between Principal, Deputy Principal, staff and management is an essential prerequisite for providing good leadership and well-managed schools. Leadership positions in essence are about leading Deputy Principals have a responsibility – regardless of any lack of clarity that may exist in
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relation to their role – to respond to the leadership position to which they have been appointed and to become active agents in co-leading and managing the school. This assumes all of the above – a shared vision, good communication, and a partnership with the Principal. Principals also need to share the leadership role, to agree leadership responsibilities with the Deputy Principal. and then to support, rather than supervise, the Deputy Principal in fulfilling the role. Leadership involves management and more Effective leadership is at the heart of good management. An effective leadership role for Deputy Principals presumes that they are well-informed on policies and practices, and that they have the competence and confidence to manage the organisational/operational issues that are required for the day-to-day management of the school. This knowledge and confidence is a two-way process. Deputy Principals need to have knowledge and to seek knowledge. Principals and management need to include Deputy Principals in the knowledge loop. Principals and Deputy Principals need to look to the ‘added value’ that sharing knowledge can bring to effectiveness in the management process. Leadership requires a team The school team is a ‘leadership +’ issue. This includes all members of staff, including the appointed in-school management team. The
Schools need to develop a leadership culture which is inclusive of all staff
effectiveness of Principal and/or Deputy Principal can best be realised when each member of staff is valued and supported not only as a teacher but as a leader, and is encouraged to exercise a leadership role within the school. Schools need to develop a leadership culture which is inclusive of all staff. The leadership-relationship of Principal and Deputy Principal
will impact on the leadership culture of the entire school. Effective leadership involves role review, appraisal, affirmation Deputy Principals, and Principals can begin to support each other through dialogue, discussion and review of the role of Deputy Principal in particular, but also of Principal. Peer appraisal is a valuable way for both Principals and Deputy Principals to explore, develop,
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challenge and enrich each other’s contribution to leadership. This will require some professional development support, but regular informal communication between both parties will provide an informal base for role-review and appraisal. Principals and Deputy Principals have referred to their feeling of isolation in their posts. Deputy Principals have clearly indicated their need to be affirmed in their posts. Principals also need affirmation. Affirmation can have a very positive impact on self-confidence and self-esteem. Leadership assumes relationship Leadership requires others to be there – to co-lead, team-lead, or to follow. The leadership role in any situation requires a relationship with every member of the team / staff / community. The role of Deputy Principal assumes a relationship with the Principal. This does not always happen. The concept of leadership between Deputy Principals and Principals is becoming less dependent on power and position and more dependent on the interpersonal relationship between Deputy and Principal. Both leaders have a responsibility to develop the leadership-relationship between themselves, and between the leadership duo and the wider staff and school community. Leadership involves what Daniel Goleman refers to as ’excelling in the art of relationship’. The introduction to this paper refers to time-appropriate and cost-effective recommendations to support leadership in schools, and in particular the leadership role of the Deputy Principal. The suggestions above – drawn from Deputy Principals’ own reflections – do not require any significant external supports. They are intended as points of reflection for Principals and Deputy Principals. They attempt to allow both parties to look beyond the horizon, to see what is possible, and to move forward in partnership to respond effectively to their leadership positions in schools. The final chapter details issues and recommendation that clearly belong to the role of Deputy Principal and that require a more in-depth external response in order to reposition the role of Deputy Principal as a key contributor to management and leadership in schools.
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6 From Good to Great: A Plan of Action Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes . . . but no plans. (Peter Drucker) THIS IS NOT just an issues paper. Its intention is to highlight the stalling-points and seek to follow these with action. The foundation to move forward is based mainly on the experienced, authentic, eager, and grounded views of Deputy Principals, but supported also by the views of Principals. What is heartening is that the two separate but complementary pieces of research underpinning this document provide a profile of Deputy Principals as reflective, resourceful, enthusiastic professionals who maintain clarity on the significance of the post which is theirs, and the professional response required by them. They remain, however, in a difficult position because the delineation of the post has not been attended to through agreed policies and structures thereby allowing for an appropriate response from Principals, Deputy Principals, management and the wider school community. Principals and Deputy Principals agree that the leadership culture that is apparent in most schools is one that promotes a frenzied approach to management and a frustrated approach to
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leadership. This – as voiced by Deputy Principals and Principals – is a consequence of the absence of realistic leadership support structures, particularly for the majority of schools where all Deputy Principals, and most Principals, have full-time teaching responsibilities. Additionally there is no agreed facility in any one of the over 3,000 primary schools that encourages, supports, promotes or permits Principals and Deputy Principals – as a leadership unit – to have in-school release time in order to focus on partnership-leadership, or professional development opportunities that develop co-leadership, or opportunities for skills’ development in key management functions. The previous chapter has offered some recommendations to Principals and Deputy Principals arising from their own reflections. There is a wider, and a very significant response required from the Department of Education and Science in particular, but also from school management in order to enable Deputy Principals to fulfil their role, and to provide for a distributed leadership between Principals and Deputy Principals. The following present as stalling points that belong somewhat outside the resolution point of Principals and Deputy Principals alone: 1
Deputy Principals hold a key leadership role in the school. This is a position for which they apply, are interviewed for, selected and appointed. The leadership description of, and vision for, this post lack definition and clarity.
A strong leadership role is assigned to the position of Principal, but leadership assignment for the role of Deputy Principal has not been developed. The potential of the role of Deputy Principal has not been realised.
The development, support and structures that have been evolving for the role of Principal teacher may have inadvertently contributed to undervaluing the role of Deputy Principals. The value of team leadership, shared leadership and co-partnership between Principal and Deputy Principal has been underchallenged.
The role of Deputy Principal has evolved to this point without any professional guidance or direction. This is disappointing given the breadth and depth of other policy developments across the education spectrum. The delineation of the role of Deputy Principal has not had any significant policy development.
The over-reliance on ‘deputising’ and ‘waiting to assist’ has contributed to the stalling
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the development potential in the post. Deputy Principals have been underutilised, undervalued and undermined. 6
Many constraints conspire to frustrate the meaningful development of the Deputy Principal’s role. These include time, role combination, class allocation, and lack of inservice provision.
There are anomalies between the support structures provided for Deputy Principals in post-primary schools, and those provided for Deputy Principals in primary schools. No release time is available for primary Deputy Principals – this is in contrast with the arrangements in place for post primary Deputy Principals. Co-partnership and shared leadership are difficult to develop in the absence of shared agreed in-school planning time for Principals and Deputy Principals.
Schools have differing leadership and management needs depending on size, location, type, special category status etc. Differentiation between schools requires a more localised and flexible definition and interpretation of the Deputy Principal’s role.
The policy of the Department of Education and Science that certain absences of administrative Principals do not receive substitute cover not only devalues the significance of the work of the Principal, but it undermines the contribution that Deputy Principals could and should be making to leadership and management in schools.
10 Remuneration for the post of Deputy Principal is based on a scale relative to the remuneration for the post of Principal. The lack of definition of the post of Deputy Principal leaves many Deputy Principals performing below the potential indicated by the commensurate scales of Principal and Deputy Principal, thus providing them with little promotional incentive. 11 Professional development courses in areas such as administration and school organisation tend to be more focused on the role of Principal. There is a clear absence of professional development courses and opportunities to support Deputy Principals in fulfilling their role. The issues highlighted above have been selected – not because they represent the totality of emerging concerns – but because these are the specific issues that require an urgent actionresponse from the partners in education, and mainly from the Department of Education and
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Science through policy development and resource-response for the role, and afterwards by school management in supporting the re-evaluated and repositioned role of a significant shared leadership dimension for Deputy Principals. The realistic action statements that follow are chosen because without action on these matters the challenges will persist, but also because each action point is measurable and realisable in a time-appropriate and resource-efficient manner. In fact, what will emerge when these recommendations are acted upon is that the potential of the resource of school leadership already in place will be maximised to allow for good schools becoming great schools and quality leadership ensuring quality learning.
ACTION-POINTS Twelve recommendations for action are outlined below – they fall neatly into three groups of four. The first group of four can be progressed within an immediate time-frame through IPPN facilitation of a representative cohort of Principals and Deputy Principals who could present the recommended detail on these four areas for agreement within a six-month time-frame. 1
A clearly defined policy statement on the significant shared leadership position of Deputy Principal is required.
The leadership role definition requires a vision for the distributed leadership position of Deputy Principal, and a statement on shared accountability for aspects of leadership.
The positioning of the role of the Deputy Principal, and the description and expectation from the post of distributed leadership, should be commensurate with the remuneration attached to the post, and should reflect a work-load relative to that of the post of Principal.
Information should be available to management, staff, and others outlining the important role of Deputy Principal, and indicating the broad functions that generally fall within the area of responsibility of Deputy Principal.
The next four action-statements can only be progressed by the Department of Education and Science. There are modest resource implications involved, but the potential to be realised is great. The question is – if these recommendations are not attended to – what is the reality for the underutilisation at present of the capacity of the role of Deputy Principal?
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Appropriate leadership time must be agreed for Deputy Principals on a pro-rata basis to allow them to work in partnership with Principals
The leadership days currently provided for teaching Principals should be revised to provide for a minimum of 50 release days for leadership in schools. 30 of these days should provide for the release of Principals and Deputy Principals to work together (15 days each). [Arrangements should be included to facilitate the needs of small schools to have an appropriate release structure for leadership development – this may include co-leadership in clusters]
The anomalies that exist between the support structures for Deputy Principals in primary schools and in post-primary schools should be removed and an equal status attached to the post at both levels.
Professional Development Courses focused on developing a leadership vision for Deputy Principals, and specifically areas of co-leadership and co-responsibility should be provided. These should be delivered to all Deputy Principals as a collaborative initiative between IPPN and LDS and substitute cover should be provided to ensure that they can attend.
Two of the final four points of action are referenced to management and the other two belong within the market range for professional development. These action recommendations could be in place within a very short time-frame provided there is a will to progress quality leadership in primary schools. 9
A more detailed job description and interview process for appointment of Deputy Principals should be developed by school management in support of an enhanced status for the post.
10 Consideration should be given by school management boards to invite Deputy Principals to be in attendance at Board of Management meetings. They would not be Board of Management members (unless elected as staff representatives). 11 There should be provision also for courses focused on the interactive-partnership role of Principal and Deputy Principal –these courses ideally might be week-long summer courses where clusters of Principals and Deputy Principals can attend.
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12 A special on-line certificate and/or diploma course on leadership should be designed for Principals and Deputy Principals who may wish to avail of this.
The goal is to provide a cohesive Principals nor Deputy Principals have indicated that this is an obstacle-driven course. Obstacles are those management unit . . . for frightening things one sees when one takes one’s mind off quality leadership, the goals. The goal in this case is to provide a cohesive thereby ensuring management unit in order to maximise capacity in schools, and to quality provide for quality leadership, thereby ensuring quality learning. learning What provides hope in moving forward is that neither
Deputy Principals, and Principals, are eager and anxious to provide this cohesiveness but can only do so when the positioning of both roles, and the support structures available, allow for good leadership. Some of the solutions lie within their copartnership potential; others require urgent external attention. Good leadership is a combination of timely relevant action and a set of leader values. The leader values have been identified – timely action is now required.
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