The role of subject advisors in enhancing instructional leadership practices in schools : the case of one education district in KwaZulu-Natal.
The role of the subject advisors as instructional leaders in South Africa has not been a field which has been given much focus. Few studies have been conducted on the role of the subject advisors even though the international literature shows that in developed countries much research has been done on the role of subject advisors. This study aimed at understanding the role of subject advisors in the South African context using one Education District in KwaZulu-Natal. In 2011 the Department of Basic Education introduced the Guidelines on The Roles and Responsibilities of Education Districts with the aim of addressing the functioning of the education districts. So it is also important to know how the subject advisors understand their roles. This research utilised a qualitative, case study approach. Data was generated through semi-structured interviews. Three subject advisors were the participants of this study. Data was analysed utilising Hallinger and Murphy‘s model of an instructional leader. The findings suggest that the subject advisors understand their roles of enhancing instructional leadership in schools. Through the findings it emerged that subject advisors understand their roles to be supporting educators through the implementation of the curriculum which includes conducting workshops, providing educators with the educator support materials and class visits. Class visits enable the subject advisor to understand what is actually happening in class so that he/she would be able to understand the nature of support that might be needed. There were challenges that the subject advisors experienced as they performed their duties. It emerged through the findings that the subject advisors involved other people in supporting teaching and learning in schools because of different reasons, which included the shortage of subject advisors in certain discipline and also the subjects which were introduced in schools when these subject advisors were already employed. Other challenges which emerged from the findings included the shortage of computers for the subject advisors which forced them to use one computer and also educator support materials like duplicating papers which were used for workshops and the materials that were to be used in the classroom. Recommendations to address these challenges include organising more workshops for subject advisors so that they would have the necessary skills, employing more subject advisors, partnerships with local private sector to address the shortage of educator support materials.