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An exploration of the role of professional supportive conversations as a strategy to enhance school management team’s capacity to manage the curriculum.

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The introduction of Outcomes-Based Education and the implementation of C2005 post-1994 put a strong emphasis on effective curriculum management. The implementation of C2005 resulted in a number of challenges in the education sector. One of the recommendations after the review of C2005 was that schools ought to adopt a transparent, open and participatory process of curriculum management. School instructional core is teaching and learning, as such school management teams are tasked to adapt to changes brought by reforms in education. School management teams have a duty to manage curriculum, monitor curriculum coverage and provide guidance and support to all subject teachers. KZN districts task team revealed that lack of curriculum management tools and uniformity on curriculum management practices has consistently been one of the challenges faced by the education sector. Hence, Jika iMfundo was introduced in KZN to assist teachers and school management teams with curriculum management routines, tools and training needed to have professional supportive conversations about curriculum coverage. Furthermore, Jika iMfundo seeks to promote professional learning communities at school level by creating key individual and key collaborative curriculum management routines. The belief is that if curriculum coverage challenges are identified and solved, learning outcomes will improve across the system. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of professional supportive conversations in enhancing School Management Teams (SMTs) capacity to manage the curriculum. The study further examines whether school management teams create a space for professional supportive conversations. The study is located within the interpretive research paradigm and adopts a qualitative case study approach. The theoretical framework that underpinned this study was situated learning theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998). Purposive sampling was used to select school management teams who participated in this study under the Lions River circuit in the uMgungundlovu District of KwaZulu-Natal. Semi-structured questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, observations and document analysis were methods used to collect data. The qualitative data collected is analysed using thematic analysis. The finding of this study revealed that schools set time aside for school initiated professional development activities. SMTs further create an enabling environment for teachers to engage in professional supportive conversations. As Lave and Wenger (1991) contend, the professional development activities, as a special kind of community of practice, accommodated by schools takes place in various forms and conditions of practice. Some are planned and unplanned, some are formal and informal, of which the majority of the activities are curriculum-related. Participants revealed that professional supportive conversations provide them with space to mentor and support teachers, in turn, participants are highly motivated since self-esteem is enhanced. Professional supportive conversations enable them to network and share curriculum coverage challenges with other colleagues. Conversations about learner assessment records and achievement have contributed to good performance There are three recommended imperatives. The first is that curriculum management tools and training be provided to all subjects. Secondly, professional, supportive conversations about curriculum coverage are enforced and monitored in all subjects. Thirdly, the Department of Education should adopt and promote the campaign as its own, otherwise, it will always be viewed as the Jika IMfundo campaign and schools or teachers will dissociate themselves to key collaborative practices of curriculum management.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.