The role of the school management team in improving the matric results in a national strategy for learner attainment (NSLA) school.
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This single case study looked at the experiences of the School Management Team (SMT) within one National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA) School in the Umlazi District in KwaZulu-Natal. The school in this study attained the NSLA status due to poor performance in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination, hence the study focused specifically at the experiences of SMT members in trying to improve the NSC results. My study makes a significant contribution towards the improvement and development of NSLA Schools in South Africa who are struggling to meet the demands of the Department of Basic Education and trying to achieve the minimum standards in the NSC examinations. A qualitative research design was employed for this study which was located within the interpretivist paradigm. One NSLA secondary school was chosen with its school management members, comprising of the principal, and four heads of departments, through purposeful sampling. A thorough review of both local and international literature was conducted on the School Management Teams within underperforming schools, and specifically, NSLA Schools in South Africa. Kurt Lewin’s (1953) change theory and the leadership for learning theory formed the theoretical frameworks for this study. Based on the data that was analysed, these were the key findings of this study: The roles and responsibilities of the SMT within the NSLA School differs from other schools based on an overload of management duties and administration related directly to the grade 12 learners and the improvement of the NSC results. The SMT in the NSLA School engage in in-depth analysis and problem solving strategies to improve the NSC results. Most of the management duties of the SMT revolve around the grade 12 learners and their curriculum which has impacted on their instruction time and resulted in stressful working conditions. The SMT also manage serious discipline problems on a daily basis and are subjected to violent learner behaviour and those learners who have drug related problems. In trying to overcome some of the challenges that this NSLA School is currently facing, the SMT plans regular grade 12 intervention classes and host parent meetings. The SMT provide learners with support in the form of mentorship and nutrition for those learners that are affected by the socio-economic ills of the community which they come from. The SMT deals with a host of negative factors that seem to have contributed to the poor NSC pass rates and also low morale and frustration. The SMT of the school hold the progression policy accountable for the mass of learners who get to grade 12, but fail because they are not ready. The Department of Basic Education, besides monitoring and evaluating the SMT, provide very little support to improve the NSC results of the NSLA School. The SMT have also not received specialised training from the Department of Basic Education to equip them for the challenges they currently face in the NSLA School. Based on the research findings, the study makes two recommendations. One recommendation is proposed to the SMT of the NSLA School while the other is directed towards the Department of Basic Education, both with the aim of improving learner academic performances in the NSC examinations.
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