Peter Gall and Michael Leach


The appointment of a new principal is likely to be the most important decision any Board of Trustees will make.

The choice of who will take over the leadership of the school will have repercussions well into the school’s future. The principal is the single most influential person in the daily life of any school. He/she influences the learning outcomes of its students, the professional performance and progression of its staff, the physical and emotional well-being of the school community and the management of the school’s property and resources.

The appointing board has to be certain that the person who is to be entrusted with these responsibilities is the right person. Therefore the process of appointment must be designed and implemented in order to minimize the risk of making the wrong decision.

Boards must also bear in mind that the risk is two-way, for by appointing the wrong person a career may be severely impaired if not ended. It is a risk for the appointee.

Any principal appointment process must take into account the legal responsibilities a board has under the EEO provisions of the State Sector Act and the Human Rights Act, it must operate procedural fairness and within its own appointments policy.

This process should be one that presents the school to potential candidates in its best light that attracts the highest calibre applicants and makes the best selection on grounds that match the demands of the job, the requirements of the board and the expectations of the school community.

In successfully completing this match the Board will be leaving a sound legacy for the future.

The staff of the school, teaching and non-teaching, have a major stake in the appointment. They are required to work alongside the appointee in a harmonious, productive relationship. The chief asset of any organisation is its professional and well performing staff. It is very much in everyone’s interest to ensure that a new principal appointee does not cause the school to lose this valuable asset. Therefore this stakeholder group should be encouraged to participate in the appointment process, be kept informed of progress as the process is followed and given assurance that the Board will be mindful of the need to appoint a person who is best suited to the job at this school.

EdSol has a distinguished record in principal appointments over many years, our reputation is second to none and many schools enjoy the fruits of a successful principal appointment guided by us.

Phase One

On commencement of contracting our services we will hold an initial meeting with the Board of Trustees to go over the whole process to be followed, the overview of that process and the details of how selection will be made.

  • We will also work with the Board to determine an appropriate timeline leading from advertising to final offer of appointment.
  • A person specification and criteria upon which an appointment is to be based will be constructed, again in collaboration with the Board. This will assist also in framing the advertising approach.
  • Edsolnz will draft advertisements to be placed both in the Education Gazette and other media as desired by the Board. The Board will give final approval to advertisements.
  • We will provide guidance in putting together an information and application package. This is an important step as it introduces the school to potential candidates. They will want full and accurate details of the school and its community.
  • Once the advertising has commenced we are available to handle enquiries.
  • We will also meet with school staff to outline the programme of appointment, detail their involvement and to assure them that the Board will make the best possible appointment based upon the needs and character of the school.

Phase Two

Once advertising has commenced there will be a period of administrative activity:

  • Distributing information and application packages
  • Drafting of covering letters for packs and acknowledgement letter on receipt of applications
  • Handling enquiries directed to Edsolnz
  • Maintaining links with the school
  • Promoting the position to potential applicants

Phase Three

On closing date by which applications are to be received we will commence our analysis. Edsolnz will collate on a spreadsheet all applicants’ details both for EEO purposes and as a means of summarizing the specifications of each candidate for Board consideration.

  • We will assist with shortlisting and will, if desired, suggest a suitable shortlist. The shortlist will be based upon the person specifications and aim at achieving a suitable list of potential principals from whom one will be selected only if he/she meets the Board’s full requirements.
  • Edsolnz will conduct reference checks on each shortlisted candidate. After many years in educational leadership we have wide and strong networks so valuable to conducting in depth checks.
  • Return of applications to non-shortlisted candidates with personalized covering letters.
  • Contacting short listed candidates to explain the process of interview and appointment. Outlining to them the date, time and venue for interviews/presentations.
  • Edsolnz will advise on the final appointment procedure and will assist in framing questions to be presented at interview. We will prepare marking and collation sheets and give guidelines to Board members on what to look for in the answers from candidates to the questions.

Phase Four

This is the selection phase following which a suitable appointment will be made.

  • Edsolnz will fully participate in the interview process. We will arrange a schedule and order of candidates. We will also assist with setting up the presentation process whereby shortlisted candidates will be asked to make some kind of presentation to the panel.
  • During each interview we will analyse candidates responses to questions and if desired present feedback on these to the selection panel.
  • We will also summarise our reaction to candidate presentations and to the quality of those presentations.
  • The selection process follows interviews and presentations. Edsolnz will advise the Board on an efficient process in doing this to expeditiously arrive at a conclusion.

Following the Board’s decision we will provide a letter of appointment appropriate to the grade of position, the relevant collective agreement and to the date of commencement of duties. We will return applications with a personalized letter to unsuccessful candidates.

Additionally Edsolnz will be able to provide the Board with a principal job description and a pro-forma performance agreement based upon professional standards for principals.