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The Vice Principalship: The Forgotten Realm

Pathways to Excellence: Developing and Cultivating Leaders for the Classroom and Beyond

ISBN: 978-1-78441-116-9

Publication date: 29 November 2014


In Ontario Canada, being a vice principal is not considered a career goal. Rather, school principals are drawn from the ranks of practising vice principals. Potential administrators must first pass the principal qualification program and spend several successful years in the interim position of vice principal (known as assistant principal, deputy principal, and assistant headmaster in other countries) before applying for the principalship itself. The current system appears to be replete with inherent challenges both for vice principals and the educational stakeholders they serve. Administrator training is based on a quantitative paradigm, but the vice principal role is highly qualitative in nature, requiring strong interpersonal skills to address conflict for which no training is provided. The current system addresses the dual role of management and leadership but from the perspective of the principal, not the vice principal. Training also favors management over leadership, yet hiring processes for vice principals place a high value on demonstrated leadership. Facility with ethical decision-making is central to the vice principal role yet absent from qualification programs. Qualification programs use classroom-based learning with no “in-role” field experience. Mentoring systems designed to provide new vice principals with help are inadequate for supporting daily tasks. As a consequence, newly appointed vice principals find themselves in a role for which they have not been trained.


Rintoul, H.M. and Kennelly, R. (2014), "The Vice Principalship: The Forgotten Realm", Pathways to Excellence: Developing and Cultivating Leaders for the Classroom and Beyond (Advances in Educational Administration, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 43-68.



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