A leadership tale of two school worlds : experiences of principals in fee paying and no fee paying schools.
Ncokwana, Zamokwakhe Thandinkosi.
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There are multiple school categorisations in the South African schooling system. One such categorisation is the fee paying and no fee paying schools. There is a dearth of scholarship on the experiences of principals leading in these school categorisations. This study therefore explored the leadership experiences of principals in fee paying and no fee paying schools and how these categorisations influenced such experiences. Principals in these schools contended with different leadership realities which impacted on the execution of the schools’ primary mandate of the delivery of quality public education. This study involved examining the leadership challenges of these principals in fee paying and no fee paying schools and how they alleviated such challenges to ensure that the teaching and learning processes were minimally or not compromised. To do this, I drew on the Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) as the theoretical lens. Methodologically, a qualitative approach was employed. Four schools in Umlazi and Pinetown Districts of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education were purposively sampled and four school principals were interviewed. Two principals were from the fee paying schools and two were from the no fee paying schools. I also utilised document reviews to supplement data generated from interviews. The documents that were reviewed included the minutes of staff and School Governing Body (SGB) meetings. The findings of the study revealed that the budgetary constraints emanating from either inadequacy of funding or unsteady flow of school fee revenue or both filtered through to various facets of school operations. This was mirrored in the resourcing and infrastructural capacities of these schools and the quality of education that they claimed to provide for their learners. Consequently, the principals employed a diversified cocktail of mitigation strategies which were tailor-made to respond directly to their unique school realities. It is recommended that the Department of Basic Education re-models or modify some sections of its funding policies, particularly of fee paying and no fee paying schools, so that they uncompromisingly address the unique leadership realities in these schools. Such a process may also ensure that these policies remain relevant to the plight of some learners in public schools and the ever-changing realm of educational practice.
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