The agency of an independent primary school principal in the management of a media centre innovation.
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The agency or personal involvement of the principal within a school is perceived as being of vital importance to the success of innovations. Leadership is necessary, not only to manage the escalating changes in academia, but more importantly to inspire, protect and encourage educators. One of the current trends in education is the move towards self-management which is a decentralization of power control from the state to the school. Selfmanagement implies choice and this enables the principal to validate the opinions and ideas of everyone who is involved in the process of school governance. The success or failure of an innovation usually depends on the support of the stakeholders. Change can be stressful, and unless the principal is part of the process, the implementation may not be successful. The context of this study is an independent primary school which has recently undergone many changes, most of which appear to have been initiated and managed by the principal. Independent schools have more autonomy than public schools as they are usually self-funded. The principal is accountable not only to the Board of Governors, but also to the parent body which generally has high expectations of the school. This study investigates the impact of the principal’s agency on the development of a multi-media centre at the school. The extent of his involvement within the school and his leadership style was first established and then the implementation of a new innovation, that of the media centre, was explored. Case study methodology based on semi-structured interviews with selected participants from within the school was employed. These participants represented different perspectives on the principal’s leadership and management of the media centre. In addition, documents and photographs were analysed for triangulation purposes.