Newsletter 223 - Professionalizing Principalship Part 2

Professionalising principalship in South Africa Philip van der Westhuizen and Herman van Vuuren


In 2007

Philip and Herman argued for the professionalization of principalship in South Africa. Lots have happened since. We now have a policy of principalship and a new qualification called Advance Diploma in Education…a further extension of the ACE.

  • Chicago Public School system was proposing a new plan that would give deficient principals one year to improve their performance before facing the axe.
  • During the past three to four decades the academic and professional training of school principals has appeared on the education agendas of most countries and it has been a central point of discussion.
  • From a brief overview of the discussions, it appears that the following matters were dealt with: training, certification, subject content, selection, and the relationship between the academic and practical aspects of training.
  • Furthermore, the discussions also dealt with the compulsory or voluntary training of school principals or aspiring school principals.
  • Repeatedly, the focus has also been towards the role of, as well as the link and relationship between, education authorities and the training institutions. Another aspect that has also been receiving constant attention is a CPD framework for school principals (Continuous Professional Development or in-service training).
  • A few examples of the discussion in the international field will be alluded to briefly.
  • In the USA, for instance, principalship and the professionalisation of principalship has been in the spotlight for almost 200 years. Brown (2005:111-120) refers to the emergence of principalship (ca 1840–1900) including references to preparation and licensure issues, as well as references to the professionalization of principalship (ca 1900–1940).
  • Furthermore reports on Preparing educational leaders for the seventies (Culbertson et al., 1969) had already been published in 1969. In 1972 a series of documents from ERIC/CEM – UCEA (ERIC/Clearing House on Educational Management — University Council for Educational Administration) were published which, amongst other things, included a document entitled Preparing educational leaders (Farquhar & Piele, 1972). In 1973, there was the report of the University Council for Educational Administrators (UCEA, 1973) which focused on Preparation and certification of Educational Administrators: a UCEA commission report.
  • Reports on Preparatory programs for educational administrators in the United States (Silver & Spuck, 1978) as well as a work entitled The senior high school principalship (Byrne et al., 1978) also followed. The National Association of Secondary School Principals repeatedly published focused editions that dealt with the training of school principals (e.g. NASSP, 1990a; NASSP, 1990b). A recent publication in the USA with a focus on the training of school principals is a work by Levine, entitled Educating School Leaders (2005). The discussion is therefore still alive and well in the USA.
  • In other western countries such as England, with its National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) (Bush, 1998) and Scotland, with its Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) (Menter et al., 2005), the focus is on the qualification, training, and certification of school principals. Dialogue in Spain also focuses on replacing the current principalship preparation model (Palomares & Castillo, 2004). In October 2005, an international seminar on the Professionalisation of school leadership was held at the University of Erfurt, Germany.
  • Here, attention was given to — amongst other things — the training and certification practices of school principals in countries such as USA, UK, Australia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark. The papers by Burch (2005) and McCulla (2005) focus directly on the professionalization of educational/school leadership. In October 2006, the CCEAM (Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management) held a conference in Cyprus with the focus on Recreating linkages between theory and praxis in educational leadership. This conference attracted more than 220 presenters of papers and symposia.
  • The most recent contribution is from Thody et al. (2007:37-53) also focusing on the selection, preparation and training of school principals in Europe. In the eastern countries, the focus likewise falls on the training of school principals. The focus of the Proceedings of the International Conference on School Leader Preparation, Licensure/Certification, Selection, Evaluation and Professional Development (Lin, 2002), held in Taiwan in 2002, is characteristic of the ongoing discussion on the training of school principals. With regard to Hong Kong, Cheng (2005) focuses on a CPD framework for school principals as well as on efforts since 2004 to officially certify Principalship. Furthermore, the central theme at the First International Conference on School Effectiveness and School Improvement in China (Shenyang, 2005) (two weeks before the Erfurt Conference) was the training and certification of school principals in China, Hong Kong, and other eastern countries.

Add Your Comment 

* Name:   
* Email:    
* Comment:    
  Please calculate the following and enter the answer below: 1 x 4 + 3 = ?
Please leave this box blank.