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An investigation of the changing roles and responsibilities of educators in middle management in the context of education reform in secondary schools.

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Since 1994, South African education has experienced major educational reforms that have resulted in a shift in the management and administration of schools. These educational reforms have had remarkable impact on the management of schools. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the perceptions of Head of Departments – (HODs) on the effects of educational reforms linked to globalisation on the professional lives and work of educators serving in the middle management positions at secondary schools. The study focused on the effects of educational reforms on the roles and responsibilities of educators serving in middle management positions in secondary schools in Pietermaritzburg. It was located within the critical paradigm, which aims at interrogating power relations and underlying forces that shape the dynamics of educational institutions in South Africa. It drew on contrasting views of social justice to analyse the educator’s experience. The neo-liberal construct of social justice and critical construction of social justice were used. The study was an exploratory case study that used focus group interviews and semi-structured in-depth interview methods as qualitative methods of data collection. Thematic analysis has been used to analyse data that has been collected. The globalisation theories and themes were used as lenses for data interpretation. Eight secondary schools middle managers (HODs) managing Mathematics and Physical Science from schools in Pietermaritzburg District participated in the study. Schools selected represented the racial, social, gender, economic and linguistic diversity of the province. The findings suggested that the effects of education policies influenced by neo-liberal globalisation have redefined the roles and responsibilities in ways that minimize the HODs autonomy and lead to the deskilling of educators who have been trained to perform their duties successfully and efficiently. The new education policies have coerced the educators including HODs to become ‘skills technicians’ degrading them as autonomous professionals. The neo-liberal policies exploited the HODs by coercing them to do both administrative work whilst being responsible for curriculum leadership. The HODs experienced dialectical tensions between allegiances to the subject (curriculum leadership) versus administrative role.


Thesis (M.Ed.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermarizburg, 2009.


School management and organization--South Africa., School personnel management--South Africa., Theses--Education.