Becoming a principal can turn out to be a decision one might regret, as nothing can really prepare you for it. The idealist in you believes the advertisement that you will be a leader of learner, and in some ways, that’s sometimes true. However, the vast majority of the time, you end up filling in countless forms and being told that you’re doing nothing about anything.
However, once you’re in the job, there’s really no respectful way back. The consequence for daring to step down from the position is that you become the least senior member of staff, and therefore, the most vulnerable to going on the panel.
It makes sense to find some dignified way for a principal to step back from their position and not be punished for doing so. Perhaps, they might go back to the position they had before taking on the profession, or maybe to the first non-post holding position. I’m not sure what would be fair in this case but it’s worth exploring.
There are suggestions out there that a principal’s contract should be no longer than 7 years, as is the case in countries like Spain. I’m not sure if I agree with this, particularly if a principal is quite happy in their position and is doing well. It seems reasonably arbitrary to move someone on just because a certain time has passed.
However, there is probably merit in a review after a certain amount of time where the principal is given an option to stay on for a certain amount of time. This gives certainty for a school for a fixed amount of time. Again, I don’t know how long this should be but something in the region of 5-10 years appears to be fair. I also think a get-out clause in the first year of the job is merited.