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Presentation TUI 2016 2 - Kate Hehir

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The Selection Process for Principals - participants perspectives
TUI Education Conference 2016Kate Hehir
Based on Thesis and Paper submitted for a Masters in Education Leadership 2013Revealed issues in the formerly known ‘VEC’ selection process for selecting school principals & the potential areas for improvementTo note: research on examining hiring practices in Irish Education is limited and is partly due to the high level of sensitivity around the nature of the topic
Background to selection process
Involvesapplication processin response to advertising of postVEC(Now ETB) select panel members- from BoardSet marking scheme, design questions & meet to have a pre-interview discussionInterviewitself & finaldecisionCir43/00 and IVEA(2004)suggest a panel of ‘experts’ be chosen for selection processDES and IVEA(2004) guidelines for composition of selection boards – recommending training for membersETB Act 2013now governs selection process
Limiting Factors to Research
Being solely based on VEC itselfScale of research would have been too large to include Vol. Sec. Schools & C & C schoolsOther research methods could have been used: questionnaires, observation or case study(latter may have been difficult to seek permission)Questionnaires – would yield dept & quality in feedback
Qualitative researchSemi-structured interviews – flexible & gave opportunity to probe and expandFour groups: CEOs, Panel Members, Successful Candidates(those awarded principalship) and Unsuccessful CandidatesField work was carried out and data processing involved identifying key questions to be analysed, emerging themes and patterns
Issues in Selection Process
A narrow focus on what is seen as an ‘expert’ on a panelLack of credibility seen towards selection panel members & a desire for panel interview trainingInstructional leadership styles sought were at odds with OECD (2009) findingsLack of role clarification for prospective principalsLack of understanding on the importance of psychology in interviewsA ‘subjective’ as opposed to an ‘objective’ method for selecting leaders
Issues cont..
Practical procedural elements seen as unreliable to selectionInconsistencies in selection procedureAn unreflective approach to selection & a narrow focus on previous leadership experienceA lack of esteem for the contextual needs of schoolsA lack of transparency in revealing contextual issues in schools at interviewA lack of focus on the quality of interviewing
A narrow focus on what is seen as an ‘expert’ on a panelUnderstanding of concept– revealedvagueness– seen as‘in management’, ‘in education’, ‘experience in role’ –emphasis on practical experienceIssue –little reference to training,professional knowledge, specialist knowledge or study– lack of esteem forprofessional expertisecould question credibility of selectorsIn contrast -successful candidates themselves– had management experience & a Masters – valued criterion – the latter increasingly important(OECD, 2008)No reference to the expertise of teachers or those outside education –OECD(2008) & Clifford (2012) suggest broadening participation in panel– members from business world, school stakeholders i.e. parents
Instructional leadership styles at odd with OECD findingsParticipative leadership styles sought by panels followed byinstructional & transformationalOECD (2009) findings contrast with Ireland being higher inadministrative leadersLack of role clarification for perspective principalsNo job specification/role clarity(OECD,2007) given– issue of transparency –could contribute to lack of applications, create uncertainty & vagueness about what a panel look forRole not well defined –lack of role clarity– time needed to define what is being looked for(Cavazos & Ovando,2012) – helps select the best person
Lack of credibility seen towards selection panel members & a desire for panel interview trainingIssues around‘retired principals’ – knowledge seen as ‘lacking’–activeprincipals seen as more credible(OECD,2008) –experience current demandsDesire fornationalised standardised training– selectors seen as‘lacking educational experience’, ‘last man..that you should have on a panel’, ‘having one job – to go through the C.V.’Lack ofcredibility – issue of accountability?As of 2013 no Nat. Standardised training2014 – ACCS & ETBI – est. a competency based recruitment & selection process – with trainers for regions & a resource pack
A Lack of understanding on the importance of psychology in interviewsInterviewees acknowledged that non-verbal cues could reveal how interview was going by interviewees:‘they don’t look like they are approving’, ‘a lot of time was spent staring at the ceiling & at the clock’, ‘there was nodding...encouragement’Similarly selectors revealed of interviewees:‘if they couldn't make eye contact, they couldn’t communicate’, they looked uncomfortable’, cues only played ‘a role’Non-verbal cues – first measurement of any setting (Todorov,2008 & Willis, 2006)Few participants acknowledged the major role it has – 55% of interviewers judgement(Mehrabian, 1971)Training needed in this area
A ‘subjective’ as opposed to an ‘objective’ method for selecting leadersProcess seen as‘subjective’, ‘not adequate’, ‘limited’, ‘one the personality side of it’, ‘little focus on leadership’, ‘clearer role for the principal needed’, ‘not saying that there aren't element of it that can be perfected’Clifford(2012) reinforces this: ‘leadership ability is hard to gauge’, ‘highly prone’ to effects of biases & prejudices(Puri, 2009)Process revealing inadequacies – lacks capacity to select leaders?
Practical procedural elements seen as unreliable to selectionPreference forlarger panel size– fairer to interviewee – contrasting to DES & IVEA guidelines – ‘different expertise reflected’, ‘better balance’, ‘much more opportunities’Lack of timenoted – ‘one hour is not nearly enough’, ‘difficult to decide for in an hour’, ‘not enough...for a job they could be doing for the next 20 years’Hollenbeck(1994) states that less time allocated to leadership position searcheshampers hiring committeesClifford (2012) avers – one year should be given to the search from point of vacancy
Short-listingsuggested but potential leaders could be ruled out if they lack evidence of previous leadership experienceSerious concerns:credibility of process if interview doesn’t present suitable candidate‘do we appoint anybody, go back again & run through the whole process? Or do we make the best of what we have & its a very hard decision to make’Process – could lack integrity?
Inconsistencies in selection proceduresLack of collaboration on designing questionsat pre-interview stage –disadvantage to school with specific contextual needs– IVEA (2004), OECD(2008) guidelines request thisAccountability? –ignoring regulations– introduces vagueness & lack of uniform approachLack of professionalism shown– leadership was not always questioned – interviewee had to direct them towards it & final question –‘just to fill a little more time I am going to ask you one more question’Integrity?
An unreflective approach to selection & a narrow focus on previous leadershipLack of post interview reflection– reinforcing unreflective culture – ‘there is no clear structure...for the quality of these boards’(OECD,2007).Irish education geared towards action rather than reflection or enquiry(Leonard& Gleeson, 1999) & a ‘culture of containment’ (Callan,1997)Predominant questioning - behavioural– assuming past behaviour is likely to predict future behaviour – difficult for those that have noneMorgan & Sugrue (2005) – those that have become principals held key leadership positions in their previous schools
Current issue – moratorium on A posts– serious impedimentOECD, 2007 – ‘quality into the future...highlights the need within the systemto develop a pool of potential candidatesfor school leadership’A lack of esteem for the contextual needs of schoolsContextual needs(issues located in schools’ internal context)not seen to be a primary prerequisiteCavazos & Ovando (2012) – hiring for just principal position & not organisation...hinders the committee’s ability to make effective selection decisions
A lack of transparency in revealing contextual issues in schools at interviewNot evidentbut when revealed – deterred people from applyingOne interviewee –made aware of a ‘very difficult situation’ during interview – stopped selling ‘them self at that point’OECD, 2007 – affirms decline in applications related to schools perceived to be in difficult situationsMorgan & Sugrue,2005 – over half of principals have had training preparation for role before appointmentSystem not empowering to face challenges – potential specialist programmes could be completed
Interviewees required in many countries to complete leadership speciality programmes before being considered(Taipale, 2012)Canada –Principals’ Qualification programmeFinland - prior experience from supervisory dutiesScotland – Scottish Qualification for Headship
12. A lack of focus on the quality of interviewingQualityof interviews was not observed by intervieweesInterviewees morefocused on comfort levelsthan competencies as potential leadersReason – selectorsnot making expectations and criteria for principal selection explicitAgain - lack of role clarification
Notable opportunities for change
Cyclical leadership & probation systemSuggested by some of the interviewees –recc. by OECD, 2008 – a minimum tenure subject to performance – renewable fixed term contractsBelgium – evaluation every 5 yearsNew York – 3 years probation before licence givenFinland – 6 month trialEstablishes suitability to positionStandardised training for panel selectorsTraining for selectors and ensuringmandatory participation
Induction for principalsSituational placementssuggested – give potential candidates & selectors opportunity to clearly evaluate their potentialAustralia –Principals Internship Programme– requires aspiring teachers to participate in internshipsPre-interviewssuggested could also establishsuitabilityLeadership development in schools for potential leadersLifting the moratoriumon posts of responsibilityEncouraging teachers to participate inleadership coursesPre-service training not just courses provided by LDS for existing principals
There wasindistinctness about what constituted expertiseAmbiguity about professional knowledge & service to a system whereprofessional leadership among teachers is not always cultivatedLack of consistency in approach; lack of precision with significantdepartures from stated guidelinesUnreflective & subjective natureflowing through veins of processNeed for greater injection oftraining for panels, for research & cultivation of expertise suitable for interviewing process
There arekey opportunities for changeFailure to improve the process will ‘most likely lead to inappropriate selection decisions, which subsequently will increase problems for both the organisation and the selected employees’ (Kennedy, 1994)





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Presentation TUI 2016 2 - Kate Hehir