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Participatory decision-making and power at three secondary schools in the Umlazi District : a case study.

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The focus of the study was to explore the perspectives and practices of school principals and teachers on participatory decision-making and power in three secondary schools in Umlazi District, KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa. The purpose of the study was not to make generalisation, but rather to obtain a rich description of the perspectives and practices of school principals, heads of departments and teachers on participatory decision-making and power in secondary schools. The rationale for conducting this study was rooted in my personal experiences and observations as a school principal with fourteen years’ experience in a secondary school. The study was located in the interpretivist paradigm was deemed appropriate because the study sought to understand the phenomenon of participatory decision-making and power from the perspectives of the participants. The qualitative study was within the framework of leadership and management, underpinned by Bourdieu’s narrative of power and Grant’ (2006) model of teacher leadership. The sampled population in the three selected schools were three school principals, three heads of departments and six teachers were my participants. The school principal, heads of departments and teachers all represent a broad socio-economic spectrum of the public school system.The case study schools for this study were carefully chosen using the purposive sampling. I opted to use three secondary schools so as to offer insight and exploration of their perspectives and practices on participatory decision-making and power. Samples of schools chosen were all secondary schools. This study was conducted in three secondary schools located within Umlazi District in KwaZuluNatal Province. Data generation involved a two-level research process, namely, semi-structured open-ended individual interviews which were the primary data generation method and documents review which was the secondary data generation method. What has come out strongly in this study is the creation of a learning environment that promotes shared information at school that promotes excellence in teaching and learning at school level, participatory decision-making increases staff commitment to the school’s programmes. Redistribution of power is important and it has to be emphasized and must be seen to be done in the schools. I must indicate that power and management relate directly to fundamental principles of educational management. I therefore, recommends the school principal need to use their power invested to them by virtue of their management position to create learning environments that promote shared information within the school. The discussion of the findings have shown that by sharing power the school management teams becomes even more powerful in terms of school effectiveness.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.