Power blocs : leadership and management experiences of school principals.
Mdlalose, Bhekokwakhe Zibuse.
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Teacher unions presence in schools has seen a range of criticism from local educationists. SADTU, a South African leading teacher union has been highly criticized for their antagonist attitude towards other stakeholders in education system. Although they are the largest teacher union in the system, there are other teacher unions with significant numbers in the education system. Thus the purpose of this study was to generate data about the experiences of school principals who lead and manage multiple teacher unions in their schools. By doing so, this study aimed at answering these following critical questions: who are the power blocs at school? what are the school principals experiences in leading and managing power blocs at school? and how do school principals manage challenges of leading and managing power blocs at school? The study was framed within power and political theory. The research design employed was qualitative with an exclusive use of a case study method. To uncover lived experiences of the participants, a case study method was chosen as it was believed to be suitable in generating data through word of mouth. Using semi-structured interviews, an audio tape recorder was used to record the interviews. Recorded data was later transcribed into study themes. Participants were chosen through purposive sampling. After selected, they were informed and asked to participate in this study. Other modes of enquiry employed were the use of relevant study documents and reflex records analysis. These documents were provided by the participants on the field, while reflex records were my small drafts that were drafted before and just after leaving the field. From these data sources, evidence was transcribed and analysed through thematic analysis. This study found that teacher unions’ leaders are very helpful in assisting principals in leading and managing teachers at school. It appeared that participants were of the view that without teacher unions at school, their rights in education can be jeopardised. Furthermore, findings also revealed that leading and managing multiple teacher unions impacted positively on principals’ leadership and management of their schools. In contrast, this study also found that teacher unions embark more often on their unions’ activities, sometimes influencing negatively the principals work routine. As a result, this study concluded that teacher union activities need to be strictly controlled at school by the principals, while also giving their leaders more responsibility on managing teachers belonging to their unions.