Rector of St. Augustine Anglican Church, Reverend Suzanne Ellis, has questioned the notion that the effectiveness of a school revolved entirely around the quality of the principal.
The cleric questioned this notion earlier today while addressing the annual breakfast meeting of the Association of Public Primary School Principals at Hilton Barbados Hotel.
Ellis, a former teacher, noted that once it was felt that the super principal could “swoop into an under-performing school, solve all of the problems and swoop out again”.
She said: “It is now generally accepted that such a model is neither practical nor realistic; but this does not negate the fact that the principal does have a crucial role to play.”
Ellis noted that one writer had suggested that one of the key roles of a principal was that of empowerment. The cleric further stated that the principal must create a culture in which the vast intellect, ability and talent of the staff was not only valued, but fully utilised.
“As principals therefore, part of your responsibility is to create leadership structures within your respective schools which will enable all staff to be creative and innovative as they contribute to the overall management of the school,” Ellis said.
She argued that these leadership structures once established, would help to reinforce the notion that every member of staff can make decisions within his own sphere of influence.
She suggested that this collective knowledge and experience would assist the school in moving forward and achieving its goals.
The cleric added: “Creating the effective school is not something we do in isolation nor in competition. The new thinking, for quite awhile I might add, is about collaboration, sharing ideas and networking.”
Ellis noted that a school environment in which principals and teachers communicate the expectation that all students could and would do well contributed strongly to positive and effective teaching and learning. She suggested that principals and teachers should have sufficient knowledge of the subject matter to teach with confidence and knowledge and skills in a range of appropriate and varied teaching methodologies.
She added that the teacher should also have knowledge of, sensitivity to and interest in the young learner, and maintained that good teachers reflect on their teaching, management style and practices.
Addressing the issue of the quality of students she would like to see graduating form Barbados’ schools, the cleric recognised that even though for many school effectiveness was most commonly expressed in terms of the students’ academic achievement, she maintained that an equally important aspect of school effectiveness was the success of developing a well-rounded, well-balanced, disciplined and socially adjusted person.
She argued that at this time Barbados needed such individuals more than ever, and urged the principals to ensure that they devoted large amounts of time to developing well rounded individuals.
She reminded her audience that good manners opened doors that the best education could not. (NC)