Principal Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Principal, or Headmaster, oversees the high-level operations of a school. Their primary duties include creating a safe learning environment, managing the development of curriculum and setting and monitoring performance goals for teachers and students.


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Principal duties and responsibilities

A Principal’s job is to provide academic and administrative leadership at each level of the UK education system. Other duties include:

  • Establishing curriculum guidelines based on the national government’s curricula, setting learning goals and benchmarks for teachers and students 
  • Evaluating teachers, ensuring standardised curriculum guidelines are enforced and identifying weak areas for teacher and student improvement
  • Disciplining students based on school policy and enforcing campus and environmental rules
  • Overseeing budgeting and school logistics operations 
  • Taking part in the hiring and training of teachers and secondary staff members
  • Providing guidance and counselling services to teachers and students on their academic or vocational goals and offering assistance with behavioural modification programs
  • Handling emergencies, school crises, organising sports activities and events


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What does a Principal do?

Principals supervise the educational staff, teachers, counsellors and keep track of student performance. They enforce and monitor school policies and safety procedures to provide a safe environment whilst planning regular maintenance of school grounds and equipment. A Principal supports teaching over paperwork and provides teachers and students with the most current materials and resources to promote a learning experience that is more enjoyable, leading-edge and relevant. Principals also implement all administrative tasks and remain a source of inspiration to the educational staff.


Principal skills and qualifications

Generating enthusiasm and creating a learning-friendly environment for students and teachers are some of the vital skills that a Principal must develop. Other essential skills they must have include:

  • Communication, organisational and presentation skills
  • Quick decision-making while under pressure 
  • Leadership skills and the ability to nurture leadership in others
  • Skilful at delegating management duties and focusing more time on improving and supervising instruction, as well as identifying and improving areas of weakness 
  • Ability to conduct research, write reports and use the information to foster school improvements   
  • Ability to identify new educational resources, materials and curriculum
  • Qualified teacher status (QTS) to teach in a state school
  • Maintain relationships with the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), regulatory inspectors and other government officials


Principal experience requirements

Principals typically begin as teachers and obtain at least one to five years of experience in teaching prior to becoming a school principal. Experience in an assistant principal or administrative position is not always required, but it demonstrates candidates are familiar with the administrative skills and requirements necessary to run a school successfully.  


Principal education and training requirements

Principals must have at least a master’s degree or doctorate degree in an area of educational leadership or education administration. They must also have a valid teacher’s licence and the required number of years of experience. Also required are specific qualifications, such as the National Professional Qualification for Headship and the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership. 


Principal salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Principal is £48,285 per year. This figure varies depending on several factors, including the experience, geographical location and school. 


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Principal job description FAQs


Who reports to a Principal?

Teachers and all educational and administrative staff report to the Principal. Club organisers and all department heads such as coaches, health workers, cafeteria, maintenance, janitors, transportation and groundsmen directly report to the Principal. All security personnel report to the Principal as well. 


How can you make your Principal job description stand out?

To make your Principal job description stand out, make sure to open with an attention-grabbing summary and mention what makes your school unique. State the exact location of the school, so it appears higher in a job search. Outline responsibilities using bullets and give information on how the position interacts with other staff and the quality goals of the school.


What is the difference between a School Social Worker and a School Counsellor?

A School Social Worker goes out into the community and creates relationships between the community, home and school. For them, the goal is to help a child get credit for school while they surpass obstacles. A School Counsellor works onsite with students and provides information to the Social Worker.


What should you look for in a Principal CV?

Besides a master or doctorate degree, make sure the candidate holds a teacher’s licence and has the required years of experience. Also, look for successful budget implementation. Other information you must look for in a candidate include a proven track record in teacher evaluations, teacher and education improvements and maintaining high academic standards. 

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