Purpose: The purpose of this article is to describe the aims, rationale and design of a principal preparation programme that draws, partially, on career stage perspectives, and to provide an assessment report of it gleaned from two cohort groups of participants. Design/methodology/approach: The programme was evaluated using two modes of inquiry: an open-ended questionnaire aimed at examining the participants' perceived benefits of every course, and a semi-structured interview with six participants intended to gain more understanding of the interpretations of the programme's unique contents. Findings: Despite some criticism, most participants found the field-based courses and those based on career-stage theories to be of much benefit to their professional development, in terms of managerial awareness and identity. In contrast, courses that centred on broad knowledge or focused, to a large extent, on theories and academic knowledge were perceived to be of lesser importance. Practical implications: It is suggested that those planning future principal preparation programmes should devise courses that handle issues of career transitions, early career stage, stress, burnout, mid-career, self-renewal and the like, to enable principal candidates to internalize the high complexity of the principal's role and the many barriers they are likely to encounter during their career cycle. Originality/value: To the best of the authors' knowledge, the paper presents an initial attempt to incorporate knowledge from the area of career development in the form of specific courses that are intended to evoke an awareness of future internal career experiences of principals.
- Continuing professional development