The Principal Recruitment Allowance (PRA) is an allowance available to boards of trustees in schools which face significant challenges and have a principal vacancy. Its purpose is to attract principals who will provide highly effective management and instructional leadership. Both schools and principals must meet detailed eligibility criteria. Eligible principals are paid an allowance of $50,000 per annum for a fixed period of three years, which may be paid for a maximum of two further fixed periods of up to two years each (i.e., up to seven years in total). The PRA is funded by the Ministry of Education (the Ministry). The policy was announced in 2014, as a core element of Investing in Educational Success (IES), and the first appointment was made in mid-2015. At the start of this formative evaluation in March 2017, 25 schools had been approved to offer the allowance, and 13 principals were receiving it.
A formative evaluation seeks to understand how a programme is operating, and inform decision making aimed at improvement. This purpose shaped the three overarching evaluation questions:
1. To what degree is the PRA being implemented as planned?
2. How does the PRA design work in practice?
- What is working well and why?
- What is not working so well and why?
3. What changes can be made to design and implementation to strengthen the PRA?
This report covers all aspects of PRA design and implementation, divided into three key stages:
- The expression of interest, full application, and assessment against school eligibility criteria;
- The appointment of a principal in approved schools, which may be with or without the PRA, depending on eligibility;
- Support once a principal is in place.