A study into the factors that encourage candidates to apply or discourage them from applying for principal positions in Catholic second level schools in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Healy, Kathleen Goretti

February 2005

Thesis or dissertation

© 2005 Kathleen Goretti Healy. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This ex post facto piece of research, conducted in Catholic voluntary secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland, and Catholic grant maintained and voluntary grammar schools in Northern Ireland, is an exploration of contemporary leadership succession challenges. There would seem to be an impending shortage of applicants for school principalship- this research establishes empirical evidence as to the situation in the Irish context, North and South. Research questions include: what personal and work related characteristics of senior teachers predispose them to see certain features of the principalship as attractive or unattractive? What conditions associated with the principalship do senior teachers see as objectionable/attractive, i.e. what are the disincentives/incentives associated with the position? What are the specific career intentions of the respondents with regard to principalship in particular? 326 teacher questionnaires were used for analysis. The self-administered questionnaire consisted of 94 fixed-response items. These are used to identify the perceived disincentives and incentives to applying for principalship. Two open-ended statements invite teachers' personal comments on the factors that would influence their decision to apply or not to apply for school leadership. The qualitative data from these two items was used to nuance the quantitative findings. The fixed response items are preceded by 12 items relating to the personal and work-related characteristics of the respondents, with one item relating to their career aspirations. This study, after providing validation data, provides a necessary overview/profile of the study population. This is prior to the employment of inferential statistical analysis using the logistic regression technique. This method of analysis leads to an exploration of the impact of predictor variables on the outcome variable- career intention, which is dichotomous in nature. Results from the univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis are presented. The study's research objective is the identification of those common or indeed, divergent factors that impact on senior teachers' decision to apply or not to apply for principalship. Six independent variables remain in the final regression model as having statistical significance in the determination of career intention. These include the age group of the respondents, their highest level of education achieved and the school type in which they work. It also includes their perceived lack of expertise, loss of close relationships and the perceived internal rewards connected with the position. It is concluded that there is association between these variables and career intention which is not accounted for by the covariates.

Institute for Learning, The University of Hull
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