Home' Independence : Independence Vol 31 No 2 Nov 2006 Contents Independence Volume 31 No. 2 49
Once a sound accountability platform
is in place, coupled with a competency
model that genuinely assesses potential,
it is possible then to plan appropriate
The Importance of
Boundary moves occur when an
individual changes job, to take on work
that is qualitatively different from that
done previously. They are job changes
that enable individuals to learn, grow
and develop, taking people outside their
comfort zone but not -- crucially -- outside
their learning zone. A boundary move is a
"stretch" process, providing opportunities
for new experience and learning.
Teachers do not traditionally seek
out these experiences. They join the
profession to teach. It is almost feels
like a betrayal of their pupils to think of
moving out of the classroom. But a newly
appointed principal is likely to more
effective if he or she has had a wide range
of experiences in a school environment
Types of Boundary Moves
These development experiences are of six
A change in accountability level: This is the
most challenging and fundamental kind of
development. Such a move would involve
a major promotion. But since schools
are very flat organisations, there are few
promotions of this kind available. Hence
the importance of the following types.
A change in function: This would be
a move from one function to another;
typically, a move from a chosen subject
into an administration area, such as
finance, for a period. The idea is that such
a move would provide a wider perspective
and lead to the individual having a wider
impact in or across the school. It would
also broaden an understanding of school
activities beyond the class room.
A change in subject: Similar in some
ways to a change in function, this would
depend on the individual's training,
education and the complexity of the
subject. A move to head of sciences for a
chemistry teacher would be an example.
A change to a support role: This could
occur if a teacher was moved from a
"command" role where he or she tells
others what to do, to an "advisory"
or a support role in, say, a project. For
potential principals it would be ideal
if the project was of a strategic nature,
affecting the whole school, and one
where there was a known problem but
no known solution as yet. The project
manager would be expected to find, sell
and even implement the new solution.
A change in environment: This would
entail a move from one school to
another or from the state sector to the
independent sector or vice versa.
A change of country: This type of
move is important where cross-cultural
experience would be an advantage for the
Research has indicated that most people
with potential are comfortable with up to
two boundary moves at one time. More
than that is likely to take them beyond
their learning zone and result in failure.
The aim of these moves is to broaden
the teacher from merely managing in the
classroom. They are being prepared to
see the wider picture that exists across
Features of a Principal's Role
• Teachers need to have broadening
experiences that prepare them for a
situation where they are contributing
effectively to the establishment of
strategy in line with the moral purpose
of the school; where they are defining
work, setting goals and targets with
quantitative and qualitative measures,
and changing them when appropriate;
where they are managing a financial
portfolio of operational and capital
expenditure; where they are deciding
who will do what by when and
providing people with authority and
resources to achieve their designated
assignments; where they are securing
commitment and ensuring that the
agreed obligations are met; where
they are giving feedback, training
and development; and where they
are making decisions on appropriate
rewards, on who should leave the
team, on promotion, demotion or
whatever is appropriate.
These are not tasks learnt by working
in a classroom; wider experience and
learning is needed.
Principals also need invigorating
boundary moves. There is a tendency
for principals to stay too long in the job,
especially when the board is more than
happy with their contribution and when
-- as is frequently the case at present
-- it has no clear approach to finding
and developing potential successors.
Moreover, the incumbent principal may
have few employment options.
In those schools which are part of a "larger
world" -- for example, a school connected
to a religious group with schools across
Australia or in other parts of the world
-- moving and developing principals is
also important. Just as teachers learn
from having a number of lateral moves
within the same level of accountability, so
principals appointed relatively young into
their first post should also have a number
of further moves, which may themselves
follow a natural order. An experienced
principal could take up the challenge of
running a "turn-around" or a "start-up"
school, for which a first-time principal
might not be so well prepared.
The Potential Principals'
Ahead Associates has developed and
field-tested a leadership programme
aimed at assessing the potential of
top teachers to become principals
of secondary schools in Australia.
This is based on knowing the level
of accountability of the job of
the secondary school principal.
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