Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Education]]> vol. 36 num. 4 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Educational Leadership and Organisational Development and Change in a Developing Country</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>A strategy to support educational leaders in  developing countries to manage contextual challenges</b>]]> The central theoretical argument of this paper is that educational leadership and organisational development and change in educational institutions in developing countries will not be effective unless school leaders are aware of the challenges posed by contextual factors that might have an impact on their professional activities. The article contributes to the discourse on educational leadership in developing countries by explicating three such sets of contextual forces that educational leadership ought to take into account: (1) the contours of the education system in which school leadership, organisational change and development occur; (2) societal and (3) international contexts. These forces are viewed through Cultural Historical Activity Theory as theoretical lens, and then illustrated with findings from an empirical study in a developing country. The article concludes with a strategic plan for exercising school leadership that takes contextual conditions into account. <![CDATA[<b>South African law and policy regulating learner absenteeism at public schools: Supporting an ecosystemic management approach</b>]]> Learner absenteeism often occurs involuntarily due to learners' social and economic circumstances. Notwithstanding this fact, there is a worldwide trend towards a more punitive and retributory management approach to address learner absenteeism. Because such an approach neglects to consider absentees' specific circumstances, it fails to address learner absenteeism properly. In the first part of this article, the authors considered the suitability of the ecosystemic theory as basis for a management approach that will acknowledge the full range of contextual risk factors that may exist in absentee learners' living environment. The authors argue in favour of a transnational and generic ecosystemic approach, with an inherent focus on contexts and interrelatedness, as a suitable approach to managing learner absenteeism. The second part of this article focuses on an analysis of South African law and policy regulating learner absenteeism, to determine whether it supports an ecosystemic approach to managing learner absenteeism. The authors found that, while South African law and policy regulating learner absenteeism mostly support an ecosystemic approach to managing learner absenteeism, some prescriptions of the Policy on Learner Attendance do not. After making some recommendations in this regard, the authors conclude with generic guidelines to managing learner absenteeism. <![CDATA[<b>Corporal punishment contestations, paradoxes and implications for school leadership: A case study of two South African high schools</b>]]> The continued use of corporal punishment in some South African schools and the reasons advanced for it make this subject topical even now, twenty years after the abolition of this practice. Corporal punishment is a worrying issue among human rights activists and scholars. This paper reports on contestations and paradoxes regarding the use of corporal punishment arising from a qualitative study in two high schools, and the implications thereof for school leadership. Data was generated through interviews with the principals, selected teachers and learners. These participants were purposively selected with the understanding that they were information-rich regarding the issues at stake. The paper was informed by a two-pronged theoretical framework, involving the social learning and distributed leadership theories. The former was adopted to seek explanation regarding the use of corporal punishment, while the latter served as a lens through which to draw implications for school leadership. Findings show that on the one hand, some community members at the two schools saw corporal punishment as an acceptable, tried and tested disciplinary measure, and that on the other hand, it is viewed as a form of violence, and a thing of the past. Overall, it seemed that the two schools were failing to root out the use of corporal punishment. The paper argues leadership to be the missing link in the two schools' apparent failure, and that the stronger and more distributed leadership was, the more likely corporal punishment would be to be eradicated, and other disciplinary means practised. <![CDATA[<b>Leadership for coping with and adapting to policy change in deprived contexts: Lessons from school principals</b>]]> This paper explores what, from school principals' perspectives, constitutes leadership for coping with and adapting to policy change within deprived school contexts. Using qualitative interpretive research, we drew from the practices of five principals that were purposively selected from a broader study, which focused on school principals' leadership in the changing education system within the rural context. The study included principals, heads of department, teachers and parents. The five principals selected for this paper were renowned for their positive image and their schools' success. From their stories we deduced three conclusions, which are important for theorising successful leadership for change in the deprived school context within a developing world. The findings suggest that principals' utilised creative and innovative ways to adapt and cope with change. Learning from their practices, this paper makes three important conclusions about leadership for coping with and adapting to change in the deprived context. We conclude that leadership practices are not fixed, but are fluid, and evolving, where leadership is not about compliance, but is about one's ability to identify what works at a given context. Leadership is also about being aware of the societal needs. <![CDATA[<b>A case for relational leadership and an ethics of care for counteracting bullying at schools</b>]]> This paper attends to a theoretical exposition of relational leadership and ethics care as complementary approaches to educational leadership in counteracting bullying at schools. Schools constitute complex systems of activities, processes and dynamics. More specifically, a social system in schools is a web of interactions between the various groups within the school, serving a number of purposes, with the intention of facilitating the flow of information, reflecting a process of socialisation, and the transfer of moral values. Such moral values underpin the value of social justice for all stakeholders in the education system. The moral standing of a school principal is key to creating such an educational landscape, where leaders care for their teachers and learners. Caring leadership is in its very essence relational, where an ethic of care observes the principle of fairness and social justice. <![CDATA[<b>Schools performing against the odds: Enablements and constraints to school leadership practice</b>]]> There are many schools in developing countries which, despite the challenges they face, defy the odds and continue to perform at exceptionally high levels. We cast our gaze on one of these resilient schools in South Africa, and sought to learn about the leadership practices prevalent in this school and the enablements and constraints to the school leadership practice. Underpinned by a critical realist lens, and drawing on social realist theory, this case study of one school generated data through interviews, observation, document analysis and transect walks. The school principal, one head of department and two teachers, were selected as participants. The findings indicate that the school embraced an expansive form of teacher leadership comprising leadership within and beyond the classroom. Further, the structural, cultural and agential climate was receptive to the expansive leadership. We conclude that the professional capital of teachers, together with teachers serving as social actors rather than remaining primary agents, are key resources to change and transformation in an emerging economy. <![CDATA[<b>Improving the instructional leadership of heads of department in under-resourced schools: A collaborative action-learning approach</b>]]> An unacceptable number of learners in under-resourced schools in South Africa are failing to perform adequately in national and international benchmark tests. Poor learner performance has been linked to poor-quality teaching, which, in turn, can be attributed in part to a lack of instructional leadership at schools. According to policy, heads of department (HODs) are best placed to offer such leadership, but in many schools this is not happening. We explain how we engaged HODs in one such school in a participatory action research process, to help them construct a framework for improving their instructional leadership. Qualitative data was generated through open-ended questionnaires, transcripts of recorded action learning set meetings, photovoice narratives, and reflective journals, and these were thematically analysed. The action learning framework developed by the participating HODs, while not being a definitive answer to improving the quality of teaching and learning, may provide guidelines for other HODs to improve their own instructional leadership practices. Since it is a process-based model, application of the model as an approach to improve instructional leadership could prove beneficial in both well-resourced and under-resourced contexts. <![CDATA[<b>Can curriculum managers' reflections produce new strategies through Moodle<a href="#back_fn1"><sup>i</sup></a> visions and resources?</b>]]> This article presents a critical action research of three curriculum managers (managers) who used Moodle visions to manage their school curriculum at a school in Durban, South Africa. The curriculum managers' main aim of using Moodle was to improve teacher and learner performance. The purpose of the study was to explore the managers' reflections on their use of visions of Moodle for curriculum management. The managers' reflective journals, one-on-one semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussion were used for data generation. Purposive and convenience samplings were used to select the three most easily accessible participants. The managers' reflections on curriculum management through Moodle visions (personal, social and professional) suggest new strategies for curriculum management (habitual, opinion and factual). The study concluded that the managers understood/learned new strategies of managing curriculum through their reflections on their use of visions for the use of Moodle. This article consequently recommends the use of Moodle visions for curriculum management and the incorporation of a reflective process to help managers to interrogate their past and present in order to generate new strategies to improve future management knowledge/skills. <![CDATA[<b>Leading curriculum change: Reflections on how <i>Abakhwezeli </i>stoked the fire</b>]]> Curriculum leadership is a complex and demanding practice, which goes beyond the research and disciplinary expertise of the curriculum leader. Engaging and leading educators in a process of curriculum change is not easy: it can be a difficult, and sometimes chaotic journey which is often characterised by philosophical debate, the calling into question of current practices, fear, and even openly acknowledged resistance. In order for change to succeed, leaders of curriculum change must facilitate a shared ownership of the change process. This will require the bringing together of individuals with different personal priorities and rallying them around a common goal, e.g. designing quality Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) programmes. Our curriculum renewal journey involved the use of problem-posing pedagogies and required us to employ transformative types of leadership strategies. In this paper, we reflect critically, on our roles, as members of the 'Abakhwezeli', in stoking the fires of curriculum change in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Faculty of Education. Furthermore, this paper will highlight particular defining moments during the curriculum renewal journey, where stakeholder consultation and the use of transformative methodologies assisted in prompting deep, critical reflection on the (re)designing of our B.Ed programmes. <![CDATA[<b>An action-learning model to assist Circuit Teams to support School Management Teams towards whole-school development</b>]]> The Education District and Circuit Offices in South Africa are mandated by the Department of Basic Education to support schools under their jurisdiction. Reasons for the lack of such support to schools have been highlighted in various reports and research findings. This paper examines the role that properly constructed school improvement plans, developed by schools, and circuit improvement plans, developed by the Circuit Team, plays in effective district/circuit support to schools. We report on the construction of a theoretical model to assist Circuit Teams to support School Management Teams of underperforming high schools towards whole-school development in which these improvement plans play a central role. We followed an action research design, employing qualitative data generation and analysis methods. The participating School Management Teams and Circuit Team members attested to the value of the collaborative learning experience which ignited feelings of empowerment and increased cooperation. These findings suggest the value of an action learning approach to the professional development of both School Management Teams and Circuit Team members. The action-learning model that emerged from this collaborative enquiry consists of three distinctive phases, each phase containing a number of specific activities to be implemented in order for schools to progress towards becoming self-managing institutions of learning. <![CDATA[<b>School district leadership styles and school improvement: evidence from selected school principals in the Eastern Cape Province</b>]]> The purpose of this study was to investigate how leadership styles in the Eastern Cape school districts support school improvement. Mixed methods research was employed and data was collected through the use of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with school principals in various districts. The study was guided by the following questions: (1) what are the most common leadership styles among the school district officials in the province; and (2) how do the prevailing leadership style/s appear to support or hinder change and school improvement in the district? The quantitative data was analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) for statistical analysis, while qualitative data analysis followed the iterative approach as suggested by Miles and Huberman (1994). Findings revealed prevalence of more authoritarian top-down leadership styles, which tend to have negative effects on school improvement. The paper ends with recommendations for more empirical work that would uncover district leadership approaches that influence the success of the districts and support school improvement. <![CDATA[<b>Leadership development: A lever for system-wide educational change</b>]]> The continuous poor performance of South Africa's learners is detrimental to its developing economy. The need for education change prompted two universities to initiate a system-wide change strategy in a poorly performing school district. The leverage for change was leadership development, involving school principals and district officials. The global impetus for driving leadership development is based on the positive association between high-quality leadership and effective schools. The change strategy was a three year leadership development intervention programme. An evaluative case study was used to investigate the experiences of the participants during the implementation of the programme. Research methods included individual interviews, observation, and a survey by means of a questionnaire. Using systems theory as a theoretical framework, various disconnections were identified in the school district. These disconnections concern the interrelationships between the educational leaders which hinder organisational learning. Changing the culture of the school district through system-wide collaboration could be the key to systemic improvements. Strategies such as collective capacity building, joint problem-solving, networking and system leadership, might provide the essential 'glue' for strengthening the interconnections within the school district. <![CDATA[<b>Leadership intelligence: Unlocking the potential for school leadership effectiveness</b>]]> Top performing companies have long used intelligence tests in their selection procedures to predict who the best leaders are. However, no longer are the brightest favoured, or guaranteed success. A post-modern world demands a fresh outlook on leadership. How can school leaders judge their effectiveness? How can school leaders lead intelligently? This article explores a theoretical approach to effective school leadership in an emerging context, which embraces a holistic understanding of intelligence. While individual rational (IQ), emotional (EQ) and spiritual (SQ) intelligences are necessary for a leader, their true power lies in maintaining a balance among all three. This is known as leadership intelligence (LQ). <![CDATA[<b>Invisible Barriers: The loneliness of school principals at Turkish Elementary Schools</b>]]> School principals fulfil unique and crucial roles, drawing on their respective experience to react to an increasing number of challenges. They must carry out their roles as school leaders within a context highly charged with emotion. The loneliness of principals at schools urgently requires investigation. Limited details can be found in current academic literature concerning the issue of how principals deal with the issue of loneliness at school. Therefore, the aim of this study is to gain insight into the nature of loneliness among school principals. The study employed a qualitative research design incorporating a phenomenological approach. The participants of the study consisted of seven elementary school principals. The data was collected via face-to-face interviews, and related observations were carried out over the duration of two months during the two semesters of the 2015-2016 academic year. The data was then analysed across three steps, namely an exploration of the general meaning/significance of the data, an encoding of the data, and a subsequent identification of the principal themes involved. As a result of this analysis, three main themes were identified: psychological insight, the organisational climate, and professional effort. Psychological insight is the notion that all participants agreed on and emphasised when asked to offer a definition of loneliness at schools. Participants also agreed on the fact that the organisational climate at Turkish schools represented the most significant reason for principals' loneliness at work. The school principals that participated in the study stated that they invested (additional) professional efforts (in their work) to overcome this invisible barrier. The results were discussed in the light of existing literature, and suggestions were presented within the context of the final discussion. <![CDATA[<b>Enabling spaces in education research: an agenda for impactful, collective evidence to support all to be first among un-equals</b>]]> Single case studies are prolific in South African education research. I equate the abundance of case studies to the urgency for evidence to transform the highly unequal landscape of education opportunities. In contrast however, stand-alone case study evidence does not offer much impact in building an evidence-based body of knowledge for education interventions. I posit an alternative for education research in the absence of collective studies, and propose for education researchers to collaborate in order to be deliberate in building a collective body of knowledge on circumstances that enable positive education outcomes given a postcolonial context, such as South Africa. I use an egalitarian political philosophy position to posit the notion of schools as enabling spaces, so as to counter a dis-enabling disaster perspective and promote dialogue on evidence of that which supports positive learning and development, given high structural disparity. I show that, as with studies in which I participated, many studies exist locally to generate evidence on education responses given adversity. However, insights thus derived are fragmented, regional and mostly single case studies using multiple conceptualisations, measures and indicators. I argue that an intentional education research agenda to coordinate inquiries could inform design, conceptualisation, measurement, comparative value and data sharing. An enabling schools research agenda could intentionally guide inquiry into that which supports education, where chronic poverty renders society as characteristically less equal.