"Taken off-the-peg" : an inquiry of the perspectives of school stakeholders about policy borrowing practice at the micro-level.
The Department of Basic Education mandates that all schools must have policies. These policies should be formulated and guided by the national legislation, namely the South African Schools Act. (SASA, 1996).Whilst this is the expectation from the DBE there are some schools that choose to copy the policies of other schools. This practise is termed policy borrowing. Having observed that the policy borrowing practice was used at some schools the researcher sought to explore the perspectives of stakeholders regarding its use and whether it was acceptable. An interpretive qualitative study, utilising a case study methodology was used and semi-structured interviews conducted to generate data. Two principals, one deputy principal, two heads of department (HoDs) and four post-level one (PL1) educators were interviewed. Based on the findings, the study concluded that there are both advantages and disadvantages. Whilst it presents an opportunity to learn from best performing schools the policies that are borrowed are usually context-insensitive, largely symbolic and not conducive to stakeholder participation. Context consideration is essential when looking to borrow policy from another school. Positive results are likely to be achieved when all stakeholders are given the opportunity to participate in the policy process. The findings further revealed several reasons that led schools to borrow policies, notably the intention to learn from best practise, the external pressure exerted by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) officials to school leaders, and the lack of leadership required to facilitate policy formulation. Participation needs to be one of the values featured in the policy process and it is recommended that the principal distribute leadership so that they can harness the untapped skills of teachers. The study proposes a model that can help schools better use the policy borrowing approach to ensure that they have guiding principles if they engage in this practice.
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