A Leadership Crisis: The current situation

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The education sector is facing an imminent and significant loss of experience and corporate knowledge which has been predicted for some time.

•    In 2003 Scott reported that by 2013, 74% of current secondary school principals and over 50% of current primary school principals would have left the school system (Scott, 2003 in Marks, 2012, p. 36).
•    In 2007 a national survey, The Staff in Australia’s Schools (SiAS, 2007) found that more than 50% of school leaders were aged 50 years and older.
•    A more recent Australian survey (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009) found the 'education and training' sector registered the largest proportion of workers who intended to retire within the next 10 years.

Add to this picture a reluctance of classroom teachers to seek any promotion, a reluctance of younger and middle management teachers to aspire to leadership positions, a reluctance of Deputy principals to apply for principalship, the premature retirements of experienced principals and a high rate of attrition from the teaching profession (Marks, 2013, pp.2–3).

This situation is being driven by the current regulations of the NSW State Superannuation Scheme which are a strong disincentive for late-career principals to stay-on past their superannuation retirement age (55 for women and 60 for men) the pre-determined age at which their superannuation benefit reaches its maximum (Marks, 2012, p.31).

To address this issue ‘it is vital that education systems ensure that there is a supply and flow of high-quality candidates for school leadership positions’ (Mulford, 2008 in Marks, 2012, p.56). There must be succession planning. Many of the retiring ‘baby boomer’ principals have a strong desire to stay connected to the workforce for longer and not to retire at a pre-determined superannuation age (Marks, 2013, p.6); others want to have access to more flexible working arrangements and to access more flexible superannuation regulations – to continue working but working shorter hours (Marks, 2013, p.5).

Publication bibliography

Marks, W. (2012). 'Tapping the Resource of Late-career Principals' in Leading & Managing, 18 (1), pp.31–49.

Marks, W. (2013). 'Leadership Succession and Retention: It’s time to get serious about a principal retention policy' in Leading & Managing, 19 (2), pp.1–14.

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