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Principal turnover and mobility - when is it a problem and for whom?
Uppsala universitet, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Fakulteten för utbildningsvetenskaper, Avdelningen för rektorsutbildning.ORCID-id: 0000-0002-4897-6657
2019 (engelsk)Konferansepaper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Fagfellevurdert)
Abstract [en]

We know from previous research that the ability of a school to attract and retain a sufficient number of qualified teachers has a significant impact on its functioning over time (e.g., Ingersoll & May, 2102; Ronfeldt, Loeb & Wyckoff, 2013). Clearly, this applies to school leaders as well. Given the knowledge we have today about school leaders’ impact on teachers, and indirectly on student performance (Wahlstrom, Seashore Louise, Leithwood & Andersen, 2010; Seashore Louis, 2015), it is no surprise that policymakers in Sweden, as in many other countries, are concerned about mobility and turnover among principals. Especially since there is already a lack of qualified candidates to fill the school principal positions (SOU 2015:22; SOU 2018:17). This concern is legitimate, considering the difficulties related to high level mobility and turnover. Not only because it denies schools the stability they need, but also because it generates a constant need to search for more individuals to assume leadership positions (Gates, Ringel, Santibanez, Guarino, Ghosh-Dastidar & Brown, 2005). Furthermore, new principals need education, and it might take years before they can be expected to have the experience required to effectively deal with their tasks.

 

In a report from the Swedish National Agency for Education (2015) the level of mobility and turnover was claimed to be high, since more than one out of four principals changed schools between the year 2013/2014 and 2014/2015. Half of the principals had been in their current school less than three years. In addition, every fifth principal was new within the profession. These numbers are often referred to and quoted in the media as evidence of the disturbing situation initially referred to in this paper. However, questions like when and for whom principal mobility and turnover is a problem, seem to remain unanswered.

 

This paper provides recent statistics received from Statistics Sweden (SCB). The analysis allows for an investigation of the level of mobility and turnover and to what extent particular municipalities or schools are facing substantially higher turnover than others. Preliminary results shows that the average principal has worked in the same municipality approximately five years and changed school less than once. Yet there are big differences throughout the country, between municipalities, and particularly between schools. These differences cannot be explained by the data itself. In order to receive an accurate picture and to gain a deeper understanding of principal mobility and turnover it is necessary to search within local school context. The need for such research is substantial since, at least in Sweden, research on principal mobility and turnover is scarce. Therefore, in analysing principal mobility and turnover, national statistical data will be utilized further, together with various kinds of data received from one Swedish municipality which was selected to serve as a case for further investigation.

 

The aim for this research study is to better understand the reasons behind principal mobility and turnover and their impact on local school practices within the Swedish context; starting with fundamental but often forgotten, or overseen, questions like What is a high level, and what can be considered an ordinary, accepted, or even ideal level of principal mobility and turnover? When is it a problem and for whom? Attention is directed towards principal mobility and turnover as a phenomenon and as one of many conditions for sustainable leadership. More specifically, this study deals with principal practice and how it affects and is affected by other related practices with significance for schools’ operation and development. Practice Architecture Theory (Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy, Grootenboer & Bristol, 2014; Mahon, Kemmis, Francisco, & Lloyd, 2017) and Theory of Ecologies of Practices (Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edward-Growes, Hardy, Edwards-Groves & Bristol, 2014) will be adopted when constructing a theoretical framework. Different methods will be used to collect suitable data, for example surveys and interviews with different design. Since general concerns tend to obscure the local practice perspective in previous reporting on principal mobility and turnover, issue framing based on interviews with different stakeholders will be of particular importance. Increased knowledge of principal mobility and turnover will enhance the possibilities to act in ways that further sustainability in school leadership and school developmental processes on both local operational and national systemic levels.

sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
2019.
Emneord [en]
Leadership, Mobility, Principal, Turnover
HSV kategori
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-398901OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-398901DiVA, id: diva2:1377279
Konferanse
The 2019 Perspectives in/on school and leadership Symposium: Fundamental and forgotten perspectives
Tilgjengelig fra: 2019-12-11 Laget: 2019-12-11 Sist oppdatert: 2019-12-11

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