School leaders are critical to the success of schools and their quality, awareness of the tasks, and the pre leading training cannot be sacrificed. However, in the Ghanaian school certain, one can confidently say those head teachers are appointed with less or no prior leadership training. However, they are expected to perform on the job.
The days when leaders were believed to be born is in the past, today, educational leaders need to go through training and schooling on leadership to understand the complexity of their role. Leadership training would also help heads to acquire the skills of leading and master the art of managing people for organizational effectiveness.
The frequent complaints by the managers of Ghana's education Service that school leaders are not meeting the lofty standard expected of them must not be blamed on the headteacher but the failure of the GES and its HR department to develop the leadership skills of teachers and make them ready to take up the mantle of leadership.
In Ghana school leaders are appointed through the direct posting method out of newly recruited teachers to serve as headteachers in deprived schools whiles others are recommended and then go through selection interviews to fill school leadership vacancies in the urban areas (Bush & Oduro, 2006).
We cannot deny that the above methods are not scientific enough. They have not helped headteachers to self-actualized whiles holding these positions. Something is always lacking, and that is leadership training.
If you are a school leader at the Pre-Tertiary level and you are currently relying on your inborn abilities as well as bits and pieces of experiences, well done, but you may lose steam soon.
In their study, (Suaka & Kuranchie, 2018) found out some disturbing factors that are contributing to inefficient and ineffective headteacher leadership. They posited that the functions of headteachers cut through administration, finance, counselling, and people management, but those in leadership lacked the essential pre-headship training. Again, no needs assessment is done to identify the leadership gaps and deficiency of newly appointed headteachers prior to their appointment and to provide them with tailored in-service training for the post. Many heads of schools have to do the usual try and errors and attempt to learn on the job.
Another disturbing finding of their work was that school leaders had positional powers that were so blunt as they could not sanction staff who fail to work as expected. Skills power is one of the leadership powers that can help deal with this however that is not the case for many heads.
Esia-Donkoh, 2014 posits that, in Ghana, schools are led by the most experienced teachers as headteachers; Hammond, 2019 found out that, retired teachers gain employment as headteachers in mission and private schools in Ghana as headteachers. The belief is that such persons can provide the needed leadership in schools. However, this is often not the case. Experience always has its limitations, especially if the individual has no leadership training or direct experience as a leader in a similar capacity.
The transformation of Ghana's education sector, the introduction of Free SHS, and the increased student and teacher population demand well-trained headteachers whose leadership skills are current enough to measure to the demands of the role. If the required and highly-developed leaders in those holding these leadership positions are not taken care of, the full benefit of their roles can not be realized and our schools would not achieve the expected goals.
Continuous professional development and training for school leaders must be tailored to their needs only after a pre-training assessment. This calls for a robust forward-looking and results-oriented Human resource department manned by those who have what it takes to estimate the training needs of the GES and introduce leadership training for both headteachers and teachers.
The GES seems not to have in place pre-appointment training modules that educate and nourish the leadership in teachers, nor does it provide training in management to school heads and potential school leaders. 2 weeks workshops on leadership after appointments can not mould the kind of headteachers we want our heads of schools to be.
Heads of schools who are sincere with the challenges they face would agree that leadership and management issues give them more than enough pressure. The antidote to this challenge in leadership and managerial training.
When they are overwhelmed by the role and their demands, some become defensive, inefficient, and uninspiring to promote discipline, growth, and staff motivation.
How GES can make Headteacher confident to perform their roles
There is the need for the GES' human resource department to start a vigorous human resource development process, examine the needs of its staff by analysis its data from appraisal forms, and identify the skills gaps of its teaching staff who are potential headteachers for training and development of the human capital for the service.
Pre-headship and in-service training programmes on leadership are critical and the old-fashioned methods for recruiting must be revisited now. This calls for continuous professional development programmes to meet the leadership training needs of the school leaders at the post.
These will go a long way to update and upgrade headteachers’ knowledge and skills to enhance their leadership role, impact on performance among others.