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Koers

On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.83 n.1 Pretoria  2018

http://dx.doi.org/10.19108/koers.83.1.2336 

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

Professional development of newly-appointed principals at public high schools in Gauteng. Is social justice served?

 

 

Johan WiehahnI; Pierre du PlessisII

IFaculty of Education University of Johannesburg
IIFaculty of Education University of Johannesburg

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

Gauteng, the smallest province with the highest per capita income in South Africa, should not have any dysfunctional schools. As a province, Gauteng spends a large portion of their annual budget on education, thus the professional development of principals should be the central focus point of their education system. Principals should be equipped or have the necessary knowledge, skills and values with which to manage and lead an effective and efficient school The aim of this paper is to determine what knowledge and skills newly-appointed high principals need to fulfil this function and if they have been a part of any induction programme designed to guide and equip successfully principals to manage their schools. The success of a high school principal is measured against a schools final Grade 12 results

Keywords: newly-appointed principals, professional development, skills, induction programme


ABSTRAK

Gauteng, die kleinste proviniste met die hoogste per capita inkomste in Suid Afrika, behoort geen disfunksionele skole te hê nie. As 'n provinsie spandeer Gauteng n groot deel van hul jaarlikse begroting op opvoeding, daarom moet die professionele ontwikkeling van hoofde die sentrale fokuspunt van die onderwysstelsel wees. Skoolhoofde behoort toegerus te word met kennis, vaardighede en waardes, om n effektiewe en doeltreffende instelling te kan bestuur en te lei. Die doel van die navorsing is om vas te stel wat die behoeftes van nuutaangestelde skoolhoofde is, hetsy kennis en/of vaardighede. Het die nuutaangestelde hoofde aan enige intreeprogram deelgeneem om hulle toe te rus om n skool suksesvol te bestuur? Die sukses van hoërskoolhoof word gemeet aan die skool se finale Gr 12 resultate

Sleutelwoorde: nuutaangestelde hoofde, professionele ontwikkeling, vaardighede, intreeprogram.


 

 

1. Introduction

A principal is "not only the educational leader of [a] school but [a] manager who is responsible for [the] financing, personnel and results of the institution" (Aho, Pitkánen & Sahlberg, 2006:119). In a South African context, any qualified teacher with the minimum teaching experience of seven years can apply for the position of principal at a school. The requirements as stipulated by the Gauteng Education Department (GDE) are: "leadership, management and administrat[ive] skill[s]". With no additional academic requirements or skills development for this position, newly-appointed principals face a daunting task filled with challenges and obstacles. This leads to the school's administrative, management, leadership and governance teams being "technically [in the hands of] unqualified personnel" (Mathibe, 2007:529) and diminishes the view held by Frederick Taylor of "getting the right man" for the job.

 

2. Literature review

When one examines the skills requirement set by the Gauteng Education Department it is important to look to literature in order to define and clarify the expected skill set.

Dimmock (1999) is of the opinion that principals "[experience] tensions between competing elements of leadership, management and administration" (1999:442). Irrespective of how these terms are defined, principals experience difficulty in the process of deciding "the balance between higher order tasks designed to improve staff, student and school performance (leadership), routine maintenance of present operations (management) and lower order duties (administration)" Dimmock (1999:442).

Academics vary in their view of these individual skills. Bush (2003:7-8) advocates that two of the skills (management and administration) overlap with the concept of leadership. "Management" as a term to describe a particular skill set is widely use in Britain, Europe and Africa, while the concept "administration" is the preferred term in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Fidler (1997:26) argues against a firm distinction between leadership and management, claiming that they have an "intimate connection" and "a great deal of overlap, particularly in respect of motivating people and giving a sense of purpose to the organisation". Naidu, Joubert, Mestry, Mosege and Ngcobo (2008:6) agree with the view of Fidler and described it being "two sides of the same coin as skills in both are essential to the effective functioning of the school".

Bush (2003:5-6) refers to the three dimensions of leadership: the ability to influence the actions of an individual or group; personal and professional values based on the character of the individual leader; and lastly, the ability to articulate this vision throughout an organisation. Leadership, according to Cuban (1988:193) refers to people who bend the motivations and actions of others to achieve certain goals and implies taking initiatives and risks. Leadership in an educational context comprises the ability to understand emerging trends in education and to guide a school through various challenges by achieving a vision based on shared values within the school community. Yudelowitz, Kock and Field (2002:2) associate leadership with the ability to direct change with future orientation. Thus, in essence leadership is all about influence, values, social justice, vision, purpose and a sense of direction.

The principal, as the educational manager responsible for the management of the school, is tasked "to carry out agreed policies" (Bolam, 1999:194) by the stakeholders. Management is about ensuring that a school is functions effectively and achieves its vision (Davidoff & Lazarus, 2003:169). To ensure quality management, explicit leadership from leading professionals is required and not efficient administration (Du Plessis, Conley, & Du Plessis, 2007:143).

The two skills, leadership and management, are clearly defined by Cuban (1988:XX); leadership links with change while management is a maintenance activity which "influenc[es] others' actions in achieving desirable ends" (ibid,1988:XX). Leadership ...takes ... much ingenuity, energy and skill. Management is maintaining efficiently and effectively current organisational arrangement" (ibid, 1988:XX). Bush (1998:328) links leadership to values or purpose while management relates to implementation or technical issues.

The principal of a school can also be perceived as being the administrator of the institution where he, or she, performs a multifunctional job. Thus entails managing, coordinating, planning, and leading (Lunenburg, 2010a:8). Calabrese (2000:27) reiterates this view, believing that the administrator of a school must have the ability to move fluidly between leadership and management. Professional development (PD) programmes for principals is viewed as "the oxygen that ensures that principals survive as educated and trained professionals" (Jones, Clark, Figg, Howarth & Reid, 1989:5).

Professional development should provide the employees within a school with the necessary knowledge, skills, values and attitudes required in order to conduct a particular task/duty effectively and efficiently (Cronjé, Du Toit, Marais & Motlatha, 2004:126).

An effective professional development programme for principals should have the following characteristics: it should be integrated with educational goals to improve education (Mathibe, 2007:523); be guided by a coherent long-term plan; it should be primarily school-based; be continuous and ongoing, providing follow-up support for further learning; and, it should be evaluated based on its impact on the school's development and effectiveness (Madge, 2003:9).

By implementing professional development programmes and empowering principals with the necessary knowledge, skills, values, social justice and attitudes required, principals will be able to face the difficulties of a dynamic and continually changing educational culture.

2.1 Research statement

How can newly-appointed high school principals be supported through professional development in order to manage their schools better? The answer to the research question will be informed by the following sub-questions:

  • Which qualifications are pre-requisites in the appointment of a school principal?

  • What leadership and management skills are needed by the appointee?

  • What recommendations can be used to support newly-appointed principals in their professional development, leadership and management skills?

This paper aims to establish how newly-appointed principals can be supported in their professional development and instil social justice in order to manage their schools effectively.

To achieve this aim the following objectives are formulated:

  • To determine the average qualification of a high school principal in Gauteng.

  • To verify if newly-appointed principals have a guideline which stipulates their roles regarding leadership, management and administration.

  • To determine what managerial challenges are faced by newly-appointed principals?

  • To determine why some newly-appointed principals fail to cope with the day to day running of their schools?

  • To establish which soft and/or hard skills principals need to have to succeed as principal?

  • To identify a professional development programme for principals.

 

3. Conceptual-theoretical

This study will make use of a conceptual framework, the significance of which, lies in the statement by Bush (2007:393) that there exists global interest in leadership and management because of its perceived importance in developing and maintaining successful schools and educational systems through a process of professional development.

The role of the principal has become more complex due to a range of factors, least of which are changes at the national and provincial levels of government; new legal requirements and changes in legislation; a changing educational landscape; and, a large-scale cultural shift which affects the staff corps, student body and society. If a principal is not familiar with these changes it could affect his or her performance as a leader and manager which could result in a dysfunctional school.

This research will explore the leadership, management and administrative skills required by principals to ensure their success. If continuing professional development is frequent, the principal will be empowered to effectively lead and manage his or her school.

 

4. Research design and methodology

The research design of this paper is based on a mixed method model with a sequential explanatory design that is used to determine the skills needed by newly-appointed principals. The mixed method research model is a preferred design and seeks to build on the strengths of both the quantitative and qualitative data (Cresswell, 2005:510). Muijs (2004:12) defines quantitative research as "explaining the phenomena by collecting numerical data that is analysed using mathematically based methods". He points out that relatively few phenomena in education actually occur in the form of naturally selected quantitative data. Quantitative research can also be based on the measurement of variables of the individual participants (Graveter & Forzano, 2012:158).

Qualitative research uses systematic procedures to discover non-quantifiable relationships between existing variables (Best & Kahn, 1993:27). In contrast, a qualitative research inquiry aims to understand social or human problems from multiple perspectives. The researcher thus ensures that this process is conducted in a neutral setting (environment) and supports the formulation of a complex and holistic picture of the phenomenon.

The research methodology for the quantitative component is based on the selected high school principals who responded to vacant promotion posts in Gauteng that were advertised in the Vacancy Circulars for the period 2010 - 2013. This sampling criterion represents the demographics of schools in Gauteng province at the end of 2013. During this period 107 out of the 679 high schools posts for principals in Gauteng, were advertised and these vacant posts automatically formed part of the selection process of this research.

For the qualitative component of this research, nine principals were used to verify the findings of the quantitative component of the mixed method design.

 

5. Data collection

Data was gathered/collected based on the experiences of newly-appointed high school principals in Gauteng who occupy positions in Quintile, 1 to 5 high schools. Data was collected in a sequential form: the quantitative data were collected first and "provide[d] the basis for the qualitative data" (Springer, 2010:437). Data from one source can enhance, elaborate or complement data from other sources (Cresswell, 2005:515). The 107 newly-appointed principals represented diverse high schools in Gauteng. Each principal was requested to complete a quantitative six-point Likert-rating scale questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised of three sections. The participants were requested to answer the questionnaire as honestly as possible and the anonymity of the respondents was guaranteed. The qualitative data collection was conducted through interviews with nine principals from five of the fifteen districts in Gauteng. During these interviews, open-ended questions were asked in order to capture the respective principal's views on the complexities surrounding the role of the principal, their functions and the difficulties that newly-appointed a principal experienced.

 

6. Data analysis

The quantitative data was statistically analysed and produced results from which one could assess the frequency and magnitude of trends.

The qualitative data analysis provided the actual findings or experiences of the principals in the research. Thus, a variety of different perspectives surrounding the topic were offered. The collected data was forwarded to Statkon at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) for analysis, where the Statistical Package Social Scientists (SPSS) (22) programme was used.

The collected qualitative data was recorded, transcribed and decoded into themes and sub-themes. The authenticity of the research was established at each phase of the data collection and analysis process.

 

7. Research findings

7.1 Quantitative Data Analysis

Of the original n=107 principals only 87 participants returned their questionnaires. Section A of the data reveals the following. The sample of 87 principals has a male; female ratio of 3:1. The mean age of the principals is 50.62 years and the mean experience of each candidate was 5.79 years. Almost 90% of the principals indicate that they have a degree or higher educational qualification. The majority (67.5%) belong to the South African Democratic Teachers Union with 51.2% indicating that they are from Quintile 1 and 2 schools. A large percentage (41.4%) have 1001+ learners in their schools with 72.1% confirming the employment of educators, who have been appointed by the SGB, and hence, have to be paid out of school funds. As expected, 89.7% of the responders indicate that they had participated in some form of professional development programme whilst working as a school principal. Almost 83.0% of the principals indicate that they believe it extremely important to have a good understanding of the various Legislative Acts concerning public schooling which could result in large amounts of time being spent familiarising oneself with the Acts. There is a significant statistical difference regarding a principal's perception of how important the Legislative Acts are and how competent they believe themselves to be with respect to their conduct according to the Acts. As predicted, competency scores are significantly lower than importance scores. The percentage of principals who identify compliance with the Legislative Acts as being vital to leaders involved with public schooling is 94.3%. An overwhelming 97.6% of the respondents revealed that they had received no written guidelines pertaining to their job. However, GDE's expectations of principals are well documented in various Government documents and Gazettes.

Section B of the questionnaire probes the perceptions of principals regarding aspects of leadership, management and administration. Each of the 25 questions is anchored by a strong disagreement to the statement which is situated at one end of the interval scale, and strong agreement at the other extreme of the scale. There are ten items which have Measures of Sampling Adequacy that are too low and have been removed from the analysis measures of sampling adequacy (MSA<0.6). The remaining fifteen items are subjected to a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) with a varimax rotation and forms four first-order factors which explain 45.56% of the variance present. These four first-order factors are subject to a second order PCA with varimax rotation, resulting in one second-order factor. This explains 54.6% of the variance present and has a Cronbach reliability of 0.750. The factor is named "Aspects of leadership and management which facilitate school effectiveness" (FB2.0). Principals show partial agreement tending towards agreement regarding the items in this factor.

With respect to the aspects of leadership and management which facilitate school effectiveness (FB2.0), respondents from wealthy schools had a statistically notably higher mean score than respondents from socio-economically poorer schools. Hence, they agreed more strongly with the aspects of management and leadership that facilitated school effectiveness (FB2.0). The effect size is moderate (r=0.38), and indicates that the effect of grouping the Quintiles, which the researcher has done. This important in determining that a relationship between perceptions of the socio-economic status of a school and the aspects of leadership and management facilitating school effectiveness exists.

Any difference could, most likely, be due to respondents in financially stable schools having more favourable dispositions towards school effectiveness as financial and physical resources are more readily available. These educators are appointed and paid by the SGB, and consequently, this favours the more affluent schools.

Section C contains eleven items that relate to professional development and are designed to investigate the frequency of principals feeling that the aspect under scrutiny influences their ability to lead effectively. The questions are posed on a six- point frequency scale: 1 indicating almost never and 6 denoting almost always. One factor refers to the extent to which time consuming aspects of management are executed; the (FC) shows that a 67.8% of variance exist and thus has a Cronbach reliability of 0.940. Principals feel that they are, more often than not, involved in these time-consuming aspects which are chiefly related to planning and organization as well as sub-tasks such as setting visions and goals, making policies, decision-making, delegation and problem solving (Van der Westhuizen, 1994:135181).

7.2 Qualitative data analysis

As part of the qualitative research component, the participants were asked seven questions. The themes and sub-themes that emerged from the data, collected by means of interviews, are presented below.

Question one establishes if the principal knows what the roles are regarding leadership, management and administration. The first sub-question establishes whether principals receive a job description. The answer from all nine participants is "no". They make use of different methods in order to obtain the information that pertains to their job descriptions. Responses range from: "go on [a] trial and error basis"; "contacted the union"; "booklet that was given to us through [the] union"; "working from the PAM document"; to "working through the policy document" (Wiehahn, 2016:313-314). Thus, what becomes evident is that the employer does not provide newly-appointed principals with the relevant information in order to prepare them for their roles or provide introductory documentation about their position. The second sub-question ascertains whether the principal is part of an induction programme. Eight of the participants responded with "no" answers, while one participant affirmed the following "I was sent to a workshop for newly-appointed principals" (ibid, 215).

The last sub-question asks: "What is the role of principals regarding leadership, management and administration?" Responses regarding leadership include the following: "I am a facilitator"; "identified leaders and giving them leadership abilities"; "I always speak as a leader"; "influence people"; and "I am in charge of making the final decision" and "guidance". Responses regarding management include the following: "manage the personnel at the school"; "monitoring"; "organisation"; "human resources and relations"; "delegate tasks"; manage systems and implement policies"; "guide people"; effective planning and monitoring". A single response to administration is "communication (ibid, 315-319)",

In Question Two respondents are asked to establish what managerial challenges newly-appointed principals face. Comments by participants on these challenges that are: "they must accept you and [this] takes a while"; "it is a lonely post as principal"; "the principal have to deal with "labour law"; "labour issues"; "staff and parents"; "despondent teachers" who are "reluctant to go to classes"; those who are "not pulling their weight"; "late coming of staff", "start to do damage control" and "get the school operational" if you are at a "dysfunctional school" (ibid, 319-322).

Question Three set out to determine why some principals are not coping with the day- today running of their schools? The role of the principal includes being the accounting officer of the educational institution. Responses from the participants regarding the inability of newly-appointed principals to cope with their day-to-day tasks include: they "do not have interpersonal skills"; "want to be the control freak"; "responsibilities are just overwhelming"; "[not] prioritising their daily schedule"; "different type of a challenge because of different types of pressure in [the] office"; "spent too much time on one thing which is unnecessary"; "tend to do too much themselves" and "the relationship between staff members" (ibid, 323327).

Question Four determines what skills principals need in order to be successful. The principals responded as follows:[principals should] "not to be autocrat"; need to develop "trust"; "interpersonal skills"; "influence people to do their best"; "instilling values"; "proper and constant communication"; "diplomacy"; "further your knowledge", "high work ethic and energy"; "sit and listen to what the [stakeholders] have on their minds"; "consistency"; to be a successful principal you need to be a good leader, be "firm" and always "honest in your position" and finally "acknowledge and apologise when you made a mistake" (ibid, 328-331).

Question Five asks principals which skills they believe newly-appointed principals should have. The skills that the participants identify as being necessary for newly- appointed principals to possess/obtain are: "project management"; "financial management"; "human relationships"; "education law"; "conflict resolutions skills"; "team work", and "administration skills" (ibid, 331-335).

Question Six determines whether a need exists for professional development. All nine participants are in agreement that professional development for principals is essential. According to the participants, these development skills should "assist [us] to be effective and efficient" in our schools. Professional development would assist and enhance a principal with his or her work ethics. One participant is adamant that professional development should not be conducted by "district officials". The sub- question determines the area in which professional development should take place and the courses and skills required. Answers varied from participant to participant. These include financial skills, decision making, policy development and leadership skills. The last question deals with the issue of newly-appointed principals receiving assistance from educational role-players. Eight of the principals indicate that they had not, to date, received any assistance form the employer regarding their professional development. Only one participant indicates that "currently workshops are being organised for newly-appointed principals by the [provincial] department" (ibid, 340).

The second sub-question ascertains whether principals receive any assistance from the School Governing Body. Four principals had received assistance, while five principals had not, to date, received any aid from their respective SGBs. Two of the five principals had funded their own development.

The majority 89.5%, of the high school principals who participated in this research have a degree or higher, while 10.5% have a non-degree qualification.

The participants are asked if they are aware of any guides that could assist them with their roles within a school. The answer to this question is both "yes" and "no". Regarding the "yes" answer, reference can be made to the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 and the Employment of the Educators Act of 79 of 1998, where the duties of the principal are defined; whilst support for the "no" answer is justified by the fact that no guides pertaining to the roles of the principal regarding leadership, management and administration are currently available.

The managerial challenges that newly-appointed principals face are:

  • To overcome the challenge of having a new school, staff, culture and environment to adapt to.

  • The acceptance of the principal by the greater school body.

  • To procure qualified and experience deputy principals.

  • To deal with current labour issues; previously this was not part of the principal's responsibilities.

  • To report to all stakeholders

  • To ensure educators work with other educational stakeholders

  • To transform a dysfunctional school into a functional one

It is evident that the challenges that face newly-appointed principals vary from school to school. Therefore, the skills Principals require to be more effective, will vary. During the interviews the following skills were highlighted by principals. These, they believe will make them more successful: financial; leadership; management; conflict resolution; time management; decision making; policy development; labour relationship, communication; human resources; curriculum development; discipline and lastly, how to manage office and educational staff.

During the interviews, the newly-appointed principals indicate that some principals fail to cope with the day-to-day running of their school's due to them feeling overwhelmed in the position and the situation. Challenges are not addressed accordingly due to the dynamics a principal experiences within a school. This in conjunction with his/her lack of skills and knowledge, can lead to him/her to feel unable to cope with the day-to-day running of the school. The participants agree that newly-appointed principals should start with a well organised induction programme followed by a process which allows for the principal to be assisted by the IDSO in identifying areas for development.

Lunenburg (2010b:8) is of the view that in order to meet the requirements as per the vacancy list from the Gauteng Department of Education, the following concepts will assist a principal in becoming successful. The principal must therefore:

  • Understand the work that is to be performed (leadership functions);

  • Understand the behaviour needed to perform the job (administrative roles);

  • Master the skills involved in performing their role (management skills).

 

8. Recommendations from the research findings:

Recommendation 1: Conflict Management courses and skills development

The most important aspect in development programmes for school principals should be conflict management. Principals are confronted daily with recurring conflict, communication and perception barriers, the complex expectations of newly-appointed principals, interpersonal disagreements and human-factor shortfalls.

Recommendation 2: Encouragement of lifelong learning for principals

The Continuous Professional Development (CPD) of school principals, through the encouragement of lifelong learning, focusing on human resource management; time management skills; conflict skills and people management competencies can aid in an intelligible and sustainable approach to building leadership and management skills in principals who journey towards achieving their schools' goals, values and visions. Skills development and training must, therefore, become an essential and compulsory aspect of CDP in school leadership and management.

Recommendation 3: Personal development of each newly-appointed principal

The CPD of principals should aim to promote the professional growth of each principal in their own right, enabling them to manage schools more effectively. This prepares them for exposure and response to educational changes and innovation; training in conflict, time, personnel and organisational management, and subsequently, bring about shift in mind-set: from an individualistic transactional management style to a collaborative and transformational style of leadership and management.

The Western Cape Education Department, through The Cape Teaching and Learning Institute (CTLI), provide all the newly-appointed principals (of both primary and secondary schools) an induction programme which is spread over four days (Gavin de Bruyn, 20 April 2015). In 2014 the Gauteng Dept. of Education, through the MGSLG (Matthew Goniwe School Leadership Governance) initiated a tender process for such a programme. In 2015, however, the MGSLG indicated that the intention of such a programme had been cancelled.

Recommendation 4: The primary responsibilities of the principal

It is imperative for a principal to take note of the primary expectations of the newly- appointed principal that are outlined in their job description. Lunenburg (2010b:1) states that the primarily responsibility for any principal is "administering all aspect of school operations". For Lunenburg (2010b:1) a Principal's job description focuses on the following perspectives: (a) leadership functions; (b) administrative roles; (c) management skills; (d) task dimensions; (e) human resource activities and (f) behavioural profiles of effective versus successful administrators. All aspects relating to the job description of a principal are reflected in detail in the Employment of Educators Act 76 of 1998. The relevant legislation addresses the requirements regarding leadership, management and administration.

Recommendation 5: Day-to-day management of a school.

As stated earlier, the tasks of a principal are complex and grow with the demands that come from a variety of stakeholders. The administrative roles that a principal must execute all require a heavy workload which consist of a variety of fragmented and brief activities. Thus, the principal finds it challenging to plan his or her day in advance. Principals need to be aware that their role is a lonely one; little time is allowed for quiet reflection due the demands of the job that is: "fragmented, [that require] rapid fire, [and is] voluminous" (Lunenburg 2010b:5). Lastly, the demands of the job require exceptional verbal communication skills as that the principal must offer verbal instructions and solutions regarding the problems posed on a daily basis.

 

9. Conclusions

Considering the responses shared by the research participants and their suggestions provided by their respective leadership and management experiences, the research findings remain important for the continuous development programme of newly- appointed principals in public schools in Gauteng. Professional development should be viewed as an on-going part of the life of a school and principals should be able to benefit from the process. Thus, more time and resources should be devoted to professional development, and in return, the development of the principals should be clearly articulated by the district and the provincial office in order to limit under performing schools.

One of the core characteristics of effective leaders is their ability to involve all members of their management team in the decision-making processes, building consensus, and with it, a shared responsibility and accountability for all decisions.

In continuously development, school principals are held accountable for the quality of the tasks that they have performed. The use of sustainable improvement plans are used to continuously assess and regulate the performance and progress of a school's management team. The improvement plans are based on a baseline assessment and a detailed needs analysis which requires the principal to set specific and measurable targets. These plans delegate responsibility for the achievement of specific targets to individual managers and leaders and provide detailed descriptions of actions that need to be taken. This should be outlined together with the dates, deadlines and performance targets of all school managers. It has been suggested that newly- appointed principals should be proficient in critical management and leadership experience and skills, possess a rich subject content knowledge and have unlimited pedagogical skills in the teaching of the subject. To the same degree, they should have a clear understanding of their priorities, roles and responsibilities as school managers.

Fortunately, it is evident that the principals of high-performing schools are thorough and timely in their planning. They are able to provide teachers, learners and parents with a detailed plan for the academic year ahead. This would include important curriculum related dates and deadlines which are seldom be altered. In order for this to be possible, the assistance from fellow school managers and teachers is required, especially when attempting to address such challenges as: adapting to new school cultures and curriculum changes; a lack of job descriptions; accept and support from other tiers of school management; labour issues, departmental amendments and the inclusion of all stakeholders in all institutional decision-making processes. The principal is ultimately responsible for developing, fostering and moulding an enthusiastic and collaborative educational environment, conducive to professional development and the teaching and learning process which upholds and represents its unique culture, values and shared goals. The principal is required to provide the school and its members with a sense of direction and the need for further, professional development, setting clear goals and objectives that are understood and agreed upon by all school managers and their departmental teams.

A school is a multifaceted structure branded by ambiguity and indecision due to the uncertain nature of its purpose. The principal, therefore, should always be aware of opportunities to improve management, departmental and internal changes, team dynamics and educational expectations .Furthermore he or she must be sufficiently prepared to fulfil the task of effectively managing and leading the school.

In light of the previously discussed considerations in this paper, it is evident that the continuous professional development of newly-appointed principals, remains an imperative for the on-going academic, social and communal development of the relevant educational institution.

In concluding, this paper hypothesises that the starting point for a newly-appointed principal should be a well-organised induction programme. This single yet vital aspect of ongoing professional development could be achieved by the Gauteng Education Department establishing a standardised programme for implementation across all its districts. The positive consequences of this action would lead to the minimisation of the number of under-performing high schools in the province. Ultimately, this induction programme should improve the morale of the newly-appointed principal and offer mentorship programmes and support groups should it deemed necessary by the principal.

 

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Correspondence:
Johan Wiehahn
Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg
PO Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa

Published: 30 Mar. 2018

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