In 1998 only 5,343 teachers had completed the Principals
Qualification Program Part 2, which is required for principal and vice-principal
positions. This number does not come close to matching the 7,750 principal and
vice-principal jobs across the province.
The College forecast in the December
1998 issue of Professionally Speaking that 44 per cent of the
principal and vice-principal-qualified teachers referred to as principal-qualified
will retire by 2003. Fully 63 per cent of them will retire by 2008.
The loss to retirement of 2,382 of the qualified group in just five years
and 3,389 in 10 years is likely to create leadership succession problems for school boards
in every region. At its February meeting, the College of Teachers Council asked the
Accreditation and Standards of Practice and Education Committees to prepare an action plan
to deal with the shortage of candidates while maintaining high standards.
1,000 NEW A YEAR NEEDED
Ontario needs about 1,000 new principal-qualified teachers each year to
replace retirees and gradually close the gap between the number of positions and the
number of principal-qualified teachers by 2004.
Over the past two years the province fell substantially short of this
target. Only 607 teachers acquired the Principals Qualification Program Part 2 in
1997 and 612 in 1998, just over 60 per cent of the 1,000 needed every year. Province-wide,
there is an urgent need to ensure that more teachers are encouraged and supported in
preparing for the Principals Qualification Program.
The number of principals and vice-principals needed will not likely fall
below 7,000 over the next decade. This number assumes a reduction from the current level
to allow for closed schools and twinned schools and also for possible decreased
The 7,000 level represents 4.2 per cent of the 164,500 Ontario-resident
qualified teachers reported in the Colleges December 1998 study. Of course, not all
principal-qualified teachers hold jobs as principals or vice-principals for reasons such
as readiness, interest in available openings, residence preferences, other administrative
employment or jobs outside the school systems. Thus, a minimum adequate supply is about
8,000 principal-qualified teachers, five per cent of the population of Ontario-resident
In 1998, the supply of principal-qualified teachers was 3.2 per cent
province-wide, with geographic regions varying from 2.9 per cent to four per cent of
locally resident teachers. There were 2,900 fewer teachers with the qualification for
these leadership positions than the five-per-cent adequate supply level. Every region
shows significant supply problems, with shortages ranging from 56 in Northwestern Ontario
to 1,112 in Central Ontario.
Information is not yet available on the loss of principal-qualified
teachers in the great retirement exodus of 1998. More than 10,200 teachers retired in
1998. Given the age of principals and vice-principals, these 1998 retirements likely made
an already-critical shortage worse.
HALF PRINCIPAL-QUALIFIED 51 AND OLDER
The experience and coursework requirements mean that teachers with about
seven years of experience begin to attain the Principals Qualification. Teachers are
likely to be at least in their early-30s by the time they qualify for a vice-principal
The College registry verifies this pattern. A small percentage of teachers
aged 35 and under in 1998 (0.9 per cent of their age group) held the Principals
Qualification Part 2. One-half of principal-qualified teachers in 1998 were 51 and older.
More disturbing is the pattern evident among those aged 36 to 50. Instead
of the expected steady growth in the proportion of principal-qualified teachers as age
increases, the College registry reveals a strikingly different pattern. In the group aged
36 to 40, 3.3 per cent hold the qualification. This rises slightly to 3.5 per cent among
the group aged 41 to 45 and then drops sharply to 2.8 per cent of teachers aged 46 to 50.
Recruitment to produce an adequate supply would likely have a very different pattern of
steady growth from four per cent of the under-40s to six per cent of teachers close to 50
years of age.
In the 1998-99 school year, the first appearance of this succession
problem emerged. Applications to the College for vice-principal Temporary Letters of
Approval (TLA) increased from three in 1997-98 to 74 by March of 1998-99. For principal,
the increase was from two in 1997-98 to five in 1998-99.
As the half of the principal-qualified group aged 51 and older retires,
the crisis will deepen.
Urgent and active succession planning must happen across the province.
Preparing for the Principals Qualification Program takes time. Within the first five
years of their careers, we must encourage teachers interested in leadership to begin their
preparation through Additional Qualification and masters studies.
Frank McIntyre is the Colleges human resources consultant.