Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
Print version ISSN 0041-4751
The image of a school is a competitive marketing tool that defines a school among other schools in a specific area. The image measuring instrument developed in this study can be applied as a management tool through which schools in general can evaluate all the different facets contributing to the image of a school, and identify positive and negative factors requiring action plans for maintenance or development. The initial English school image model by Howard (1998) was used in its adapted form (2003) and applied to the South African school environment as a point of departure in developing a school image measuring instrument for South Africa. The empirical research was done by means of a quantitative questionnaire with a sample size of450 students, parents and teachers randomly selected from each class in the school. The design of the questionnaire stemmed from the literature study done, and in total 345 responses were received (signifying a satisfactory response rate of 76.7%). The primary objective of the study is to construct a quantitative measuring instrument to determine the image of a school. The theoretical measuring instrument identified four key areas that influence a school's image, namely the environment, school culture, product catalogue and delivery mechanisms. This theoretical measuring instrument and the measuring criteria pertaining to each key area were empirically validated and tested to be reliable. A structured questionnaire, measuring each one of the four key areas, was used as a measuring instrument. The empirical study showed that this questionnaire was valid, and as such measured what it was supposed to measure. In addition, the analysis of the data also showed that the reliability is beyond suspicion as the Cronbach alpha, as reliability coefficient, exceeded the 0.70 margin with ease. As a consequence, these four areas were deemed to be suitable for measuring the image of a school. The measurement of the image of the secondary school was done by developing a structural equation model. The model determined the exact influence of each of the areas of the measuring instrument onto the image as well as onto each other. The following results were obtained: A highly satisfactory correlation of 0.79 exists between the Environment contributions and the image of the school, where the environment consists of the parents, the Department of Education and the school's governing body; The School culture consists of the history of the school, the climate within the school, recognition, appearance, discipline, safety and religion. A highly satisfactory 0.82 correlation exists between the school culture and the image. A high correlation of 0.85 exists between the Product catalogue and the image of the school. The Product catalogue is supported by academics, sport, leadership and tertiary alignment. Lastly, image is supported by a high correlation of 0.84 between Delivery mechanisms and the school image. This area consists of the principal, teachers, infrastructure and technology infrastructure of the school. Furthermore, the developed structural equation model showed a satisfactory fit on a number of fit indices. The favourable correlations as well as the satisfactory fit indices led to the final conclusion, which is that the measuring instrument to determine the image of a school is a reliable and valid tool to use, and that the measuring instrument can be operationalised in the market.
Keywords : school image; image measuring instrument; school environment; measuring instrument validity; structural equation model; school management; secondary school marketing.