Leadership skills in education can be developed and enhanced in a number of ways, most commonly through workshops, training and mentorship programmes, with many organisations providing both training and mentorship.
The idea of professionalising the role of school principal only emerged after 2007 when the Department of Education set out to introduce professional training in management and leadership for principals. This was followed by the introduction of the Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) for school leadership and management. It has been argued that the training programme places more emphasis on management than on leadership, which has led to a review of the programme and the publication of a Policy on the South African Standard for Principals.
Types of intervention models in school leadership:
- Training: Department of Education and Tertiary Programmes
- Training: NPO programmes
Examples of how companies invest in school leadership and management
The Old Mutual Foundation focuses on the development of mathematics and science teachers, with specific emphasis on fostering leadership within the schools in which it works. The Foundation has found that little reflection and collaboration happens between school principals, management teams and district level government, and is trying to effect a paradigm shift in this regard by supporting communities of practice. The company also supports Partners for Possibility – a partnership between school principals, business leaders and government that aims to facilitate cross-sectoral and reciprocal collaboration.
General Motors South Africa Foundation embarked on a three-year training programme to test out the key competencies for principalship in practice. As a first step in 2016, the Foundation spent a considerable amount of time developing study material for the programme. 2017 is being used to introduce 25 selected principals and their school communities to the eight key competency areas (as outlined above), with a view to using a third year for consolidation and implementation through a community of practice. Since General Motors will be withdrawing its business from South Africa, it has been proposed that the non-profit organisation, Siyawela (supported by The Old Mutual Foundation), continues this project in 2018 and 2019.
The Zenex Foundation looks to advance education programmes in South Africa through systemic and innovative programming that includes leadership and management development. The Foundation conducts school functionality assessments, which include whether or not a school has an appointed principal (acting principals may not be committed) and basic infrastructure, before proceeding with any interventions. It integrates leadership into all of its programmes, and focuses on ‘instructional leadership’ such that behavioural change is experienced within school management teams. Zenex supports systemic education programmes such as NECT and PILO, which incorporate leadership development, as well as programmes focusing specifically on school leadership, such as the development of the Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) and, more recently, the development of the Advanced Diploma in Education (ADE). It also supports Bridge, which creates a platform for principals and the rest of the sector to interact.
VWSA supports a number of schools around its operations in Uitenhage with the ‘Teach like a champion’ programme, which it recently extended to include ‘Lead like a champion’, after finding that without principal buy-in the programme was not achieving its desired results.
The Sanlam Foundation is identifying 100 schools with which to partner over a five-year period, to improve the quality of mathematics education. This intervention includes the identification of barriers to the effective teaching and learning mathematics in schools, taking into account a broad range of issues, including the impact of poor infrastructure and the effects of poor nutrition on learners.
The Kagiso Shanduka Trust always includes a leadership training component, ‘Igniting the leader in you’, into their education interventions, to help foster accountability, as well as in response to high attrition rates of principals. They plan all programmes with the province and district and set targets with the district and circuit. For them, it is not about individuals, but about the plan. The first year of their current five-year programme in the Free State was spent engaging and planning with the various stakeholders.
The Industrial Development Corporation has identified the need to create stronger linkages between primary and high schools, and has started thinking about projects that link feeder schools with their high schools counterparts, to support holistic and long-term impact in education.