Transformation schools into professional learning communities (PLCS) : perspectives from 5 primary school principals who completed ACE in Uthungulu District.
Mtshali, Samukelisiwe Maureen.
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This study explores the perspectives of rural primary school principals that completed the Advanced Certificate in Education: School Leadership (ACE: SL) in their efforts of transforming schools to professional learning communities (PLCs) in order to improve learner achievement. The coming of the democratic dispensation in South Africa in 1994 has generated the idea that transformation in education, within the backdrop of demands for school effectiveness and learner achievement must be driven by school principals. Policies and pieces of legislation issued by the Department of Education (DoE) are some of the initiatives that were put in place in order to transform schools into effective learning organisations. One of these policies is the South African Schools Act (1996) which states explicitly how public schools should run and be governed. School principals were then identified by the DoE as drivers and agents of transformation who have to translate these written policies into practice. The study was conducted with five rural primary schools whose principals completed ACE: SL and a qualitative approach was employed to generate data. The case study methodology was utilised to conduct research. The case of the study was the five school principals that completed ACE: SL. The methods used to generate data were semi-structured interviews, documents review and records of notes from my unintended informal observations. This study was underpinned by the collaborative and distributed conceptual frameworks and by Steyn’s dynamic theoretical frameworks. The findings revealed that after completing the ACE: SL, change started with the principals. Their leadership and management styles were then informed by distributive and collaborative leadership. They further revealed that while principals claim to have shifted from the old style some are still conservative. They regard the principal as the only figure to be listened to. The findings also indicated that poor transport determines the ways in which schools are run in terms of time since teachers and learners rely much on public transport to travel to and from schools. Furthermore, principals consider the provision of support by the DoE in schools as inadequate such that schools are under resourced in terms of physical buildings and finances which hinders the implementation of PLCs. It is recommended that the DoE should ensure that principals should not only receive training in leadership and management skills only but also in the creation of PLCs in schools through ACE: SL. The implication of the study is, principals that completed ACE: SL were equipped by the programme and as a result their mode of running schools has changed. Therefore if the DoE can make this a policy, all principals can easily transform their schools to PLCs.