THE MINISTRY of Education has taken another step to expand the pool of persons trained as prospective principals in order to improve the quality of leadership in the country’s public schools.
 
The National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL), through a newspaper advertisement, is inviting qualified educators to apply for entry to round two of the Aspiring Principals Programme that is offered through the University of the West Indies.
 
This follows the recent completion of the programme by the first batch of just over 40 educators from public schools across the country. They were granted fellowships by the Ministry of Education. The Aspiring Principals Programme targets education professionals with strong leadership potential who are desirous of becoming school principals. Participants are exposed to strategies designed to achieve school improvement, increased student performance, greater stakeholder involvement, sound financial management and schooling that focuses on the development of the whole child.
 
Principal Director of NCEL, Dr Maurice Smith, says as a result of the exposure to the training programme members of the inaugural cohort have been able to reconstruct their understanding of school leadership and are in a better position to lead positive change in their institutions. Dr Smith says these NCEL certified persons are available to board chairmen as they recruit school leaders.
 
Several pieces of research, including the Chief Inspector’s Report published by the National Education Inspectorate, have attributed weak school leadership as a main contributor to the low levels of performance at some of the country’s public schools.
 
To address this problem, NCEL has implemented a series of initiatives, including the Aspiring Principals Programme and the Effective Principals’ Training Programme, to target practicing principals and other senior staff. To date, more than 600 practising principals and other school leaders have been exposed to training by NCEL.
 
Legislation is being drafted to require persons to be in possession of NCEL certification before they are engaged as principals of public schools in Jamaica.