A study of the implementation of the whole school evaluation (WSE) policy in schools evaluated by KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education and Culture.
With the advent of democracy in 1994 and the repeated calls by the South African public for the renewal and reconstruction of the education system there has been a radical shift on school supervision from inspection to whole school evaluation. The new system of school supervision is carried out under the auspices and in terms of the National Policy on Whole School Evaluation. The application of the said policy however has not been without its own problems. Teacher unions have in some circles resisted its application in their schools. Trained departmental officials had to be chased away from some of the schools that were targeted for evaluation and this incident generated heated national debates in the public domain and within educational forum (Natal Mercury 28 May 2002). This study takes a cue from these widespread debates about the implementation of the Whole School Evaluation Policy within the school context. It explores in details the implementation strategies of the WSE policy, how the policy is conceived and perceived by those to whom it is applied. The study looks at the reception of this policy and the experiences gained by those educators who were evaluated with a view to suggest areas for development and reinforcement of good educational practices. These experiences were captured through the use of interviews, policy analysis and questionnaires. Responses were then analysed and interpreted with a view to make recommendations on how best the policy could be applied at school level. The study found that Deputy Principals are neglected in terms of training. This affects policy implementation at school level where their involvement in school management is substantial. The study also found that there is a serious lack of a shared basis of cooperation between schools and their district offices in respect of implementing WSE. The study further indicated a serious lack of co-ordinated effort on all levels of the system in the application of the WSE policy. The application of WSE has no visible support from major role players especially at district level. The absence of key structures and personnel such as district support teams and WSE coordinators as suggested by policy, impacts negatively on the implementation of the policy at the school level. Having considered all available options and the contextual factors within which the policy is applied in our schools this study advances a variety of recommendations that could be applied to improve implementation of the WSE Policy in schools in KwaZulu-Natal.