A case study of instructional leadership practices of four school principals in the Pinetown District.
The purpose of this study was to gain a greater understanding of the instructional leadership practices of school principals in the four researched schools. The study explored what school principals actually do to support and enhance effective teaching and learning in schools. It also elicited the school principals’ views on the barriers they faced as they support instructional leadership practices in schools. The study further investigated how school principals navigated the barriers they experienced as they support instructional leadership practices in schools. This study used the qualitative research approach which was located in the interpretive paradigm. Furthermore, a case study design was used and it allowed for an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon being studied. Four school principals in the Pinetown District were purposively sampled on the basis of learners’ academic performance, demographics and socio-economic contexts. In addition, data was generated through semi-structured interviews and documents review. National and international scholastic literature was interrogated in order to shed light on the research topic. The study was underpinned by two theoretical frameworks, namely Weber’s (1987) instructional leadership model and Spillane’s (2006) distributed leadership theory. The analysis of the generated and presented data led to the findings that the school principals conceptualised their roles to be very significant in managing / supporting teaching and learning. However, this did not necessarily translate into improved learner achievement outcomes or school improvement. The findings were utilised as the basis for making conclusions. A significant conclusion that was gleaned from this study was that organisational management practices were as important as instructional leadership practices in order to enhance school improvement and maximise learning outcomes. Furthermore, it emerged that principals displayed high levels of distributed instructional leadership practices in their schools. It was also concluded in the study that school principals faced significant barriers from various stakeholders in their attempts to support effective teaching and learning in schools. Recommendations, informed by the conclusions, were also presented to suggest how each theoretical conclusion can be translated into workable practice in order to support effective teaching and learning in schools. Finally, the implications of the study were proffered.