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Summary of the New Zealand literature on recruitment and retention of school leaders: Issues, challenges, trends, and strategies for succession planning

Keren Brooking

New Zealand is facing a crisis concerning the recruitment and retention of school principals, as a significant number of “baby-boomer” principals retire over the next five years. Already there are problems recruiting principals, particularly in small rural, low-decile, full primary schools where the principal is a teaching principal.

This report summarises the present situation regarding principal recruitment and succession planning, by drawing together existing literature and collecting together unpublished new data. The review describes the national context by looking at the demographics of the principal workforce (age, ethnicity, and gender) and the changing diversity of student demographics which impact on the principalship. It looks at different types of schools in relation to recruitment and retention differences, such as location, size, state-integrated schools, ethnic minority schools, and special schools. New data identifying localised problems or ‘hot spots’ where there is high turn-over of principals or other challenging circumstances, are also commented on. Literature on the principals’ role(s), wellbeing, career pathway and challenges impacting on retention is also summarised. The report concludes with a summary of Ministry of Education strategies to solve some of these problems.

Publication type: 
Research report
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Keren Brooking