BOOK REVIEW: The Art of School Management

The Art of School Management book cover.

Author: Ogutu Maurice

Reviewer: Victor Ochieng’

Francis Bacon sagely said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few are to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

Ogutu M.A, the Chief Principal of Sawagongo High School in the Gem, Siaya County, penned a good book while the head of the spear at Kisii School.

His winsome wit obeys the last part of Francis Bacon’s wise words on best books.

The Art of School Management book speaks about his experiences, which span over twenty years in school headship.

He has been at Maranda High School, Chulaimbo High School, Ramba High School, Agoro Sare High School, and Kisii School.

In the prolegomenon, Boaz Owino, the Chief Principal of Nyambaria School admits that Ogutu M.A. is a remarkable and sedate school principal with deft management skills.

No wonder, he posits: Leadership begins in the classroom. Any teacher who yearns to climb the lofty ladder and become a leader, must first of all strive to shine like a star in the classroom.

The results of the school are in the staff-room.

The teacher presents the curriculum to the learners, motivates and does more to a learner than a parent.

As Henry Adams noted, “A parent gives life, but as a parent, he gives no more. A murderer takes life, but his deeds stop there.

A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Ogutu M.A. is a shining example as a teacher of History & Government and Christian Religious Education (C.R.E).

In 1994, he was the best History teacher in Nyanza Region.

In 1995, 1998, and 2008; he was the best C.R.E teacher in the Nyanza region.

In 2012, he was ranked as the best History and Government teacher in Homa Bay County and position 31 in the whole country.

Therefore, he observes the role of the principal in school management as crucial to the success of a school.

A principal must be a good manager, planner and organizer.

Through strategic thinking and vision, the principal influences the academic performance of a school, allocates resources and directs and motivates the school staff.

His actions must paint him as a leader.

As aptly put by Adam C. Quincy, “If your actions can inspire others to do more, dream more, become more, learn more, you are a leader.”

Small things that principals say and do matter to the three stones in the hearth of a school – teacher, student and parent.

Principals are measured both in speech and tone.

Principals must choose to remain objective.

They are key agents in the school’s academic journey.

They are the first quality assurance officers when it comes to curriculum implementation.

The quality of a nation depends on the quality of its schools.

The quality of schools depends on their principals and teachers.

The destiny of the nation is designed in the classroom.

A school is like a lens. If it is a good lens, it becomes crystal clear and permits vivid projection of academic insights and ideals.

The quality of the school speaks without a tinge of accent about the character and conduct of the principal.

The principal is the captain who should steer the ship towards the stunning shores of success.

As aptly put by Dr. John C. Maxwell, the brilliant proponent of leadership content, “Everything rises and falls on leadership. Leadership rises and falls on communication.”

The principal is the seal and the school is the wax.

S.K. Kochar in 2004 concluded that schools are good or bad, in a healthy or unhealthy mental, moral or physical condition, flourishing or perishing as the principal is capable, energetic, enthusiastic, and of high ideals, or reverse.

There are three kinds of Principals: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen, and those who do not know what is happening.

The principal must motivate teachers.

Because they are the most important components as far as the quality of education is concerned.

The best curriculum and the most perfect syllabus remain dead unless given a kiss of life by teachers.

Therefore, staff welfare must be looked into. The principal should help teachers move from their comfort zones to capacity zones.

How? Organize seminars and workshops to help teachers grow and glow.

It is the role of the principal to cure the ‘destination disease’ that commonly ails teachers.

How? Challenge them to write books.

Let them go for further studies because an empowered teacher is an effective teacher.

Use verbal and written commendations to prop up their morale.

Write letters of appreciation to acclaim and commend them.

Simple acts like availing newspapers, providing yummy meals, giving refreshments, occasional trips and retreats – work wonders.

New teachers must be inducted properly.

Teachers should be involved in decision-making.

The principal must ensure that the support staff has decent and elegant uniforms and proper tools of work.

The BoM teachers, support staff and suppliers should get their dues without delay.

Principals should avoid unnecessary hubris – overconfidence, arrogance and pride.

The principal must act as a school plant manager.

School plant refers to the educational facilities that aid in the implementation of educational programs.

Management of the school plant involves planning, provision, maintenance, and improvement of school resources.

The school physical environment plays a pivotal role in teaching and learning activities.

To control unrest and spate of strikes, the principal should take care of students’ welfare.

How? By involving them in decision making.

Encouraging them to write anonymous letters, clearly stating how they feel.

Encouraging frequent house and class assemblies where learners can air their grievances without victimization.

Holding barazas, and using such occasions to encourage them to express their fear. It is advisable to use democracy and the open-door policy to run the school.

Principals should have their eyes and ears on the ground.

They should advise prefects to avoid immoral practices and high-handedness. School arrowheads should support a strong religious culture like chapel gatherings and weekend challenges.

Principals should establish a strong guidance and counseling department, student leadership – student council, peer counseling, subject coordinators and constitute career counselors in every class.

Principals should use the gift of the gab to simplify and demystify school policies.

Principals must come up with well-thought-out strategies for mobilizing resources.

Money dropped in the school coffers either as a fee or as government capitation must be spent with prudence.

It is right to involve the alumni in various school projects and explore manifold income-generating activities.

The reviewer of the book rolls out talks and training services in school.

Mr. Victor Ochieng’ holding Maurice Ogutu’s book, The Art of School Management. PHOTO/Courtesy.
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Mr. Ochieng' is an editor, orator and author. His contact:


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