INTRODUCTION The principal or leader of any learning institution is the key component in creating an effective school. In creating an effective school, the principal must be effective in his role as a leader. The principal is the centre of attention and will be observed by teachers, students and parents. In addition, the principal is the one who should lead by example. Then it is of utmost importance that the principal exhibits qualities of an effective leader that are conducive to creating an effective school.
School culture and the relationship that the parents, teachers and students have with the school have been linked closely to school effectiveness. According to Sergiovanni (2000), most successful leaders will tell you that getting the culture right and paying attention to how parents, teachers and students define and experience meaning are two widely accepted rules for creating effective schools. O’Hanlon and Clifton (2004) posit that the principal is on stage all the time and must be effective in maintaining order and establishing a sense of integrity for the school.
Having an effective school can be seen as the ‘life blood’ of every principal and highlights the type of leadership style used by the principal to bring about such a school. In addition, school effectiveness results in teachers’ satisfaction and a high level of academic achievement by the students. An effective school is seen as one that promotes the progress of its students in a broad range of intellectual, social and emotional outcomes, where students progress further than might be expected from knowledge of their backgrounds (Sammons et al. , 1995). STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The purpose of this study is to identify the role of principal in creating an effective school. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY We can all remember childhood moments when at school, the principal would announce at full assembly the outstanding performance of some athletes or the spelling team for achieving first place in the spelling competition. The expression on the faces of the principal, teachers and students is evidence that the school has achieved something great. It is moments like these that we vividly remember and recall the events with much joy and anticipation.
However school effectiveness and the principal’s role are of major concern to principals, teachers, students and parents. For some concern parents, the principal is the deciding factor when it comes to the school that their child will attend. If the principal is one that they believe to have good leadership qualities, they will be comfortable that their child or children will do well at that particular school. It would be extremely difficult for schools to be effective if they are characterised by ineffective leaders or low achieving students.
Literature clearly states that a strong leader and high student achievement are clear indicators of an effective school. An effective principal supports high student achievement and ensures that staff makes worthy contributions towards the school being effective (O’Hanlon & Clifton, 2004). This research paper will be guided by the following questions: What are the factors influencing school effectiveness? What are the qualities of an effective principal? How does school effectiveness impact on student achievement? SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This paper seeks to show the importance of the role of the principal in creating an effective school. It will also examine the qualities needed by the principal in order to create an effective school and points out that the student is first priority in an effective school. Research of this topic will also provide educators, researchers and policy holders with a better understanding of effective schools and principal leadership and how they can improve on these areas. This study will also examine the views of the teachers, students and parents in relation to the relationship between school effectiveness and principal leadership.
DEFINITION OF TERMS It is important that the following terms be defined in the context in which they are used in this paper: Effective school- achieves exceptional academic performances and engenders students who are disciplined and well-rounded. Role- a socially expected behavioural pattern usually determined by an individual’s status in a particular society Principal- a person who has controlling authority or is in a leading position School culture- a set of common understandings for organizing actions and language and other symbolic vehicles for expressing common understandings Student achievement- refers to academic success by a student
LITERATURE REVIEW Significant efforts have been made in recent times to establish a relationship between effective schools and principal leadership. This is supported by Rice (2010) as she cites Horng et al. , (2009) who states that for decades, the principal has been recognized as an important contributor to the effectiveness of the school and furthermore the principal constitutes the core of the leadership team in school and influences a variety of school outcomes which include student achievement, through their recruitment and motivation of quality teachers and the ability to identify and articulate school vision and goals.
Ubben et al. , (2011) define an effective school as one that is achieving high and equitable levels of student learning. They further state that there are seven correlates of an effective school which are as follows: 1. Clear School Mission 2. High Expectations for Success 3. Instructional Leadership 4. Frequent Mentoring of Student Progress 5. Opportunity to Learn and Time on Task 6. Safe and Orderly Environment 7. Home/School Relations
Edmonds and Lezotte (2008) offer another perspective of an effective school. They state that 95 percent or more of the students at each grade level must demonstrate minimum academic mastery and are prepared to succeed in the next grade anywhere in the United States, there shall be no significant difference in the proportion of students demonstrating minimum academic mastery as a function of socioeconomic class and the above two conditions must be obtained for a minimum of three consecutive years.
Sergiovanni (2009) posits that an effective school is understood to be a school whose students achieve well in basic skills as measured by achievement tests. He also opines that an effective school is one with a shared covenant clearly articulating the school’s core values and providing a standard by which actions will be judged (Sergiovanni, 1992).