You get what you advertise for…

Darling-Hammond, Meyerson, LaPointe, & Orr (2010) identified that while there was a growing rate of principal shortage being reported in the US by superintendents, it was found that there was not a shortage of candidates, it was more a shortage of well-qualified candidates who are willing to work in the places of highest demand.   This supports the findings of the Wallace Foundation, where the shortage of principals, was rather a matter of definition.  Roza, Celio, Harvey and Wishon (2003) identified that while there were more people certified to be principals than the number of vacancies, there was some difficulty, in some area in finding good school principals.  However, Hine (2003) argues that while yes there are adequately certified principals in the US, few actually wish to apply for the position of principal.

The challenges to attracting teachers to school leadership have been well documented in the literature and include; role complexity, general lack of understanding about the varied and complex aspects of the role of principal, perceptions around the inheritance of school leadership, the difficulty in transition from classroom teacher to principal, lack of clear pathways for career progression and disparity between high levels of responsibility and financial remuneration are making the role unattractive to qualified and suitable applicants (AITSL, 2015; The Wing Institute, 2018; Queensland Teachers’ Union, 2018).  Richardson, Watts, Hollis and McLeod (2016) in their analysis of the advertising used for principal vacancies, propose another contributor to the shortage of applications.

They identified that while there is a global shift in evolution of leadership in corporations, non-profits, government agencies and NGOs, with leadership position roles and titles addressing the changing demands in organisation responsibility, this shift is not as evident in education. In the world outside of education, there are new roles being created such as Chief Innovation Officer and User Experience Manager, who are addressing the needs of organisations to respond to customer and workload demands.  Richardson (2016) identified that this shift in leadership demand is affecting the principal shortage.  A significant finding from Richardson was the variance between what researchers and academics identify as the role of the principal, and what districts advertise for when seeking new principals.   While the advertisements studied, identify the role of principal as interchangeable across districts, what is advertised for continues to be in the classic areas of day to day management and operations, similar to what was expected decades earlier.  Richardson (2016) suggest that the difficulty in finding “good principals” for schools, is a reflection of the underwhelming sameness of their principal advertising.

What Richardson’s analysis of these advertisements further provides, is a scope of what is currently being expected from employers.  From a talent management position, this list could contribute to informing principals of themes to identify potential aspirants and contribute to an aspirants planning when developing their performance.  In Australia, many of these expectations are evident in the Australian Professional Standards for Principals.




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