Getting a life : principals and deputy principals reflect upon their changed career paths : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Administration, Department of Educational Studies, College of Education, Massey University
The thesis aimed to find out why successful primary school principals were leaving teaching for other careers and why deputy principals were becoming increasingly reluctant to seek further promotion. The researcher was concerned to learn in the media of increasing numbers of principals leaving the profession and wanted to find out the reasons for this. The factors which influenced mid-life career decisions from the perspectives of two different groups, twelve recently resigned, successful urban primary principals and fifteen in-post deputy principals were critically examined. A between-group comparison of their attitudes and beliefs regarding the principal's role, role satisfactions and dissatisfactions and the impact of the 1989-1996 educational reforms on their career change decisions was conducted. A considerable body of qualitative and quantitative research literature has examined the reasons why teachers become dissatisfied and seek new careers. Of particular relevance to this study were those investigations which explored mid-career crises, 'triggers' which caused life reassessment and career pattern and promotion studies. Evidence in this study suggests that some principals resigned because of health-related problems exacerbated by high administrative workloads and stress. Others perceived a lack of attractive career opportunities within education and sought new challenges. Many of the deputies no longer aspired to principalship positions because of the stress, excessive administrative workload and the loneliness associated with the position. A number of members in both cohorts wanted to restore balance to their lives. In the researcher's opinion, if talented educational leaders are to be retained and the status of the profession enhanced, an independent, national, professional support body needs to be established for principals. Desirable, clearly-defined, well-compensated career paths must be created and additional administrative support provided to schools in low socio-economic regions. Traditional career paths of New Zealand teachers have changed and further evidence of the reasons for this is required. The career paths of male and female teachers are markedly different. Additional research is needed to ascertain if, as this study suggests, women seeking principal's positions are being disadvantaged. Ways must be found which will make the position more attractive to ensure that the best educational leaders are retained in the profession.