The role of subject advisors in supporting teaching and learning: experiences of primary schools’ departmental heads.
Mdabe, Xoliswa Hetty.
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The purpose of this study was to explore the leadership role of Subject Advisors in supporting teaching and learning in primary schools. The study explored this role from the perspective of Departmental Heads as curriculum leaders in primary schools, examining what they expect as support from Subject Advisors and how they experience the offered support. Reviewed literature shows that there has been an identified relationship between district leadership from Subject Advisors that supports teaching and learning and teacher performance together with learner achievement. While there is some South African literature of district-level support for teaching and learning, there is not enough on the experiences of those who receive this instructional support. Hence, this is what motivated the exploration of this topic. This qualitative study was approached from the interpretive paradigm. It comprised of five Departmental Heads from three primary schools in the Umlazi district. The study made use of face-to-face semi-structured interviews as a method of data generation. The theory that underpinned this study was the theory of districts as institutional actors in systemic reforms. The findings of this study revealed that subject advisors do support teaching and learning in primary schools; however, this support falls short of expectations. While Departmental Heads did not only rely on Subject Advisors for curriculum-related support, they believe that the support they get from them for teaching and learning does influence learner achievement. The study concluded with key lessons from the whole research journey. Among these lessons was that collaboration between Subject Advisors and Departmental Heads is important as it enhances teaching practices and specialises the support given to each school. This collaboration in planning and formulating key strategies on curriculum-related issues also enriches the professional development programme for Departmental Heads as curriculum leaders and teachers. This collaboration enhances teaching practises which has positive contributions to the overall learner achievement.