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Exploring curriculum development leadership roles: a case study of four primary school principals in the Lower uMfolozi Circuit.

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Over the past few decades, South African education has been characterised by a number of reforms, changes and transformation. These changes to education were followed by a variety of curriculum legislations and policies which propagated curriculum transformation at the school level. Such curriculum reforms emphasised facilitative and participative curriculum development, as well as a management model for schools. This, in tum, suggested that the principal 's role with respect to 'curriculum development leadership' needed to be reconfigured in order to suit a new curriculum dispensation. The purpose of my study was to investigate primary school principals' understandings of their curriculum development leadership role at the school level. The study also sought to understand how primary school principals lead curriculum development in their schools. Located in the qualitative interpretative paradigm, my study describes a general sense of the curriculum development leadership role experienced by principals in a selection of four primary schools. Adopting a case study methodology, with theoretical underpinnings of the participative/ facilitative leadership theory, the study reveals that the primary school principals who participated possess a limited understanding of their curriculum development leadership role. The participants in my study were purposively selected and the data was gathered through -semi­structured interviews, observation sessions, document analysis, as well as personal reflective journals. Data was analysed and interpreted through a process of extrapolating salient themes. The findings of this research project illustrate that the primary school principals who participated tend to construe themselves mainly as curriculum development managers, however, perceive themselves as being curriculum development leaders. The study recommends that principals shift their grasp of their curriculum development leadership role from that of being managers to leaders, as well as seek to empower themselves in terms of skillsmanship and qualifications (e.g. enrolling for postgraduate studies), in order to try to fulfil their changed role. Further, it suggests the establishment of principals' centres, which could enable them by offering a valuable support base.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.