26 SES 04 A, Underpreforming Schools and School Evaluation
The position of Principal is a challenging one in any context (). In the South Africa context this challenge is to a large extent (also) linked to the terrible legacy of many years of subjugation and neglect. Many South African schools are still suffering due to inadequate infra-structure, poor socio-economic conditions and a high illiteracy rate. This situation is many a time aggravated by over-hastily developed policies and frequent policy changes that make the challenging position of the principal even more challenging especially since these frequent policy changes are viewed as having a negative impact on an already low performing academic environment.
This research aims to understand how principals navigate in this difficult contextual environment in their quest to lead and manage their schools to improved education results.
With Principals increasingly having to account for the quality of education and learner performance at their schools it becomes paramount to understand the impact that the mentioned circumstances have on their motivation; does it make them more determined or does it make them feel that they are in the hands or powers outside their own control. The interviews will focus on the concept and action of sense making, to determine if the principals are able to make sense in all the contextual factors where and how to manage and lead and determine policies.
The key question for the research is: How are the principals able to make sense in the complex contextual situations to lead their schools to develop the quality education?
The objective will be to understand if principals are able to see the wood from the trees; if they are able to determine priorities or to be able to manage the conflicting messages and issues to the advantage of their staff and learners. The agency and structure dichotomy will be in focus. Are principals able to be agents of positive change in and sometimes against structures that may make it difficult to lead schools towards higher quality education? The assumption is that a successful principal is able to keep possible negative influences linked to the frequent onslaught of changes and influences on the staff to the minimum and in so doing create an environment that is conducive for high quality teaching and learning
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