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The role of high school heads of department as leaders of learning.

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Heads of Department (HODs) in some schools complain about teacher‟s absenteeism, late coming and the workload. Heads of Departments, being middle managers in schools, have a significant role to play in improving teaching and learning through supervision and control. Proper time- management is necessary in order for them to execute this duty effectively. Some scholars have declared that instructional leadership should be driven by HODs since they are play a key-role which determines whether teachers teach and learners effectively. However, HOD‟s experience challenges in their role. This study therefore, explored the role of high school HODs as leaders of learning. In their role- function as outlined by the Department of Education HODs supervise teaching and learning, ensuring that class activities are undertaken, marking done and feedback given on time. They conduct departmental meetings and assess teachers‟ performance. They also have their own teaching allocation as well as extra- and co- curricular activities. HODs therefore, would experience challenges in their role as leaders of learning. The study adopted a qualitative approach utilising a case study design. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants from two schools. Semi-structured interviews and document analysis were employed to generate data. The study reveals the following findings: (a) HODs encountered challenges in implementing the goals set because teacher absenteeism and late coming present a problem; (b) HODs experienced challenges in managing classwork and giving feedback because of the workloads that they themselves have; (c) Overcrowded classes become a problem when trying to give learners individual attention; (d) Holding meetings assists in empowering teachers as they share information and improve their communication skills and enhance their knowledge. The study recommended that HODs should closely supervise and monitor class activities and involve parents of learners. Parents should counter- sign exercise books of learner, since parents are one of the most important stake-holders in teaching and learning. HODs should create their own mechanisms and put structures in place to monitor as well as to curb absenteeism and late coming in their departments. They must develop a school policy to curb late coming and absenteeism and ensure that teaching time lost is made up. HODs must encourage teachers to attend workshops and provide constructive feedback in their staff meetings or subject meetings. Information from meetings may be issued in a written form. All efforts must be made by all stake- holders to ensure quality teaching and learning takes place.


Master of Education in Educational Leadership, Management and Policy. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Edgewood 2015.


School management and organization., High school department heads., Middle managers -- Education., Theses -- Education.