A significant factor in ensuring stability and growth in a school is a low staff turnover. With this data now readily available in compulsory published school reports, it is easier for prospective parents, our customers, to see what staff turnover looks like.
A high staff turnover immediately says that something is wrong in any organisation. What it says for the prospective parent is that it poses the question;
‘If staff don’t really like it here, will it be the right fit for my children’.
Of course, the most important measure for a school in this regard is the rate of change at the top. Few schools grow and thrive with regular changes of Principal.
How can stability in leadership and staff be maintained? At the Principal level, there are two important points to be made. Firstly, great care must be taken in the initial appointment for this position. Although not always possible, a smooth planned transition is ideal with the Board ensuring that the candidate is the best fit for the culture of the school (see our article on changing Principal’s here).
Secondly, the ongoing relationship between the Principal and the Board must have some clearly defined boundaries between governance and management and those boundaries must be respected by all parties. Along with the maintenance of open and honest communication, the respecting of these boundaries will ensure that a toxic relationship does not develop. Such a relationship will ultimately fracture the key relationship at the top, but before it does it will filter down throughout the whole organisation. If the problem is within the culture of the Board, the process will repeat itself, resulting in a revolving door of Principals and a loss of confidence in the school. One does not have to do much research to discover that schools with such a revolving door of Principal’s (and staff) are not schools that are growing.
Undoubtedly, a school that is healthy and growing will be evidenced by a high staff retention rate, starting with of course the Principal. A school that regularly turns over leadership every couple of years, will be a school that is stagnating and going backwards.
This cannot be covered up by pronouncements that the Board is seeking a ‘new direction’.
Parents soon lose confidence in a school where no Principal can survive more than a few years.
In a private school, confidence is essential in maintaining the support of the parent body.
New Principals often mean division as change will often bring a new dynamic not accepted by all the stakeholders. If the Principal changes regularly then there is the possibility that the school can be on a zig-zig course to nowhere.
In a similar manner, a high staff turnover of teachers does not engender confidence. This either says that the school has very poor recruitment standards or that school staff who are newly employed soon become disenchanted with the school or its management.