Thirty-six new principals are currently undergoing training to enhance their leadership capabilities prior to taking up their posts at primary schools across the island on April 22.
The week-long training, which started today and ends on Friday, is a new initiative which the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation expects to continue in the future.
Acting Chief Education Officer, Karen Best, in addressing the official opening of the Leadership Institute 2013 yesterday at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, said: “There is presently a need for focused and systematic school leadership. We need training and we need programmes to enhance the quality of school leadership. We live in a world where employers are demanding a new set of skills from our school leavers.
“The foundation for the development of these skills must be laid in the primary school. Therefore, it is imperative that primary school principals bring a different perspective to bear on the management of schools. As lifelong learners, principals must be active participants in their own learning, seeking out professional development that helps them to improve both student learning and their own performance as leaders.”
Best noted that hiring such a large number of principals en masse presented a unique opportunity for the METI to provide training in leadership and management of our schools and a mentorship programme.
Additionally, the acting chief stressed that it was the “new way [of doing business]” since the ministry could not afford to keep placing persons in schools without giving them the tools to succeed.
“This is a start,” she said, while noting that all the issues principals needed to be exposed to could not be covered in one week.
The Leadership Institute is a collaborative effort between the ministry and UWI’s School of Education and is being held under the theme Leading the 21st Century. That School’s director, Dr. Jennifer Obidah, noted that the group of principals was “making history” as the “largest cohort of principals hired at any one time”.
She added: “You have chosen a challenging role … in a time when things are very difficult in schools… There are budgeting problems; [and] there are social issues that come into the school. There is disengagement; high rates of absenteeism among teachers and students; family conflict that sometimes comes into the school and all of these issues [you face].”
Emphasising the need for principals to accept the mantra, “Yes, I can”, Obidah noted that it was about saying: “Yes, I can live a life of purpose; Yes, I can make a difference in the lives of children in Barbados”, moving forward with that decision and accepting responsibility.
The training will include components on Principals’ Etiquette — speech, dress, deportment, conduct and protocol; Constructivist Listening: A Skill for Building Interpersonal Relationships; Forging Parent and Community Relationships; Teacher Evaluation and School Culture: Leading Organisational Change and Addressing Indiscipline.
Principals will also review their knowledge on the Education Act; and other legislation that impacts on them and the National Reading Policy.