Teaching is one of the noblest professions and a school principal, invariably, is a teacher first and everything second.
Although this seems wholly appropriate, it’s probably the most challenging aspect of the position. Most school leaders remain so much absorbed in other duties that they never even enter classrooms.
According to a recent survey by the School Leaders Network, an independent professional network of principals working with primary, secondary and higher secondary schools, 80 percent of the headmasters don’t have time to teach.
While 18 percent of the principals take up to 16 classes a week, a trifling two percent manage to squeeze in time to teach more than 16 periods in a five-day school week.
The survey also gives credence to the sweeping criticism that education is more of a business these days. Yes, straight from the horses’ mouth. Out of the 430 headmasters who took part in the survey, 310 agreed that schools are driven by business ethics. Meanwhile, 103 headmasters opined that they are driven by social responsibility rather than business. The rest of the 17 respondents chose to skip the question as they did not know what to prioritize.
Bringing to the fore the challenges faced by the headmasters, the survey underscores that non-availability of dedicated and qualified teachers is a major hurdle, as marked by 47 percent of the respondents.
About 29 percent of the headmasters feel threatened by pushy parents, who seek maximum returns for their fees. According to 13 percent of the headmasters who partook in the survey, schools are being suffocated by government regulations and red tape. Nine percent of the headmasters dread admission pressure the most.
Although the role of school leaders largely resembles that of corporate managers, only 23 percent of the headmasters are in to data-driven decision making.
And for them, data is either an assessment of marks or financial records. No one who took part in the survey had analyzed the alumni data, student feedback, demographics, online reputation, social media or even classroom observation.
Homeschooling may have become quite a ‘normal’ alternative to traditional mainstream schooling, but 98 percent of the respondents said they were not all threatened by the all-new phenomenon.
While 57 percent of the headmasters encourage teachers to update their knowledge and skills, 43 percent admitted to doing nothing of that sort. However, 58 percent of them observe the teachers in class and give them necessary feedback.
Unsurprisingly, only one third of the headmasters feel prepared for quality accreditation of their schools as per international standards. About 63 percent of the school leaders are not prepared and the remaining 13 percent are not aware of the importance of accreditation process.
Nevertheless, the ray of hope is that although the respondents included heads of schools that follow different syllabuses, most of them are of the opinion that developing standard operating procedures, and a structured and scripted curriculum would clean up the education system.