Leadership development of school principals through communities of practice : a case study of one leadership practice community.
Naidoo, Surendra Vethaviasa.
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The purpose of this study is to explore the role of Leadership Practice Communities (LPCs) in developing the leadership capacity of school principals. Given the minimal requirements to become a school principal and the increasing demands made on the principal in terms of his/her job, the question arises as to how best are school principals developed for their school leadership role. This study is underpinned by the theory of Communities of Practice and a conceptual framework on leadership development. Sense is made of how school leadership learning of principals can occur within a community of practice. This works on the premise that people with common goals and interests work together to better themselves and their institutions. This study explores whether this can be done within these structures and how best it can be formalized to assist all leaders in the education field. This study seeks to answer the following critical questions: What forms of leadership learning take place within leadership practice communities? How does the leadership practice change as a result of participation within leadership practice communities? What challenges and possibilities exist for leadership development within leadership practice communities? This study is located within the interpretivist paradigm. A case study methodology is used in this study and semi-structured interviews of a group of principals have been undertaken. This particular Leadership Practice Community was purposively selected based on convenience. Seven principals were selected based on the following criteria: secondary/primary; male/female; urban/township/rural. The findings indicate that a leadership practice community has played a major role in developing the capacity of novice and senior principals. The findings direct that this could be the way to ensure that development of school principals could be undertaken and it should be replicated by all Ward Managers with a view to developing and strengthening leadership in schools under their control.