Professional capital of educators across the varying school quintile categorisaton.
Pather, Paramanandhan Prathaban.
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This study examines the acquisition and deployment of professional capital of educators across the varying school quintile categorization. One of the attributes of providing quality education is a strong emphasis on teacher professional development but within the context of South Africa teacher professional development initiatives packaged into workshops, which have minimal monitoring and evaluation, does not necessarily translate into educators learning new knowledge that leads to their practice being changed for quality teaching for quality learner outcomes (Bertram, 2011; Whitworth & Chiu, 2015). Engagement with the literature in the area of professional development has alluded to the phenomenon of Professional Capital advanced by Hargreaves & Fullan (2012), opening a new gaze into professional development and it is in this gaze that I locate my study. Professional Capital, which is made up of three interrelated components (human, social and decisional capital) that underscores excellence and educators realising their fullest capacity in teaching, provides the theoretical lens of the paper. This study employed a qualitative, case study methodology using an interpretive approach with a view to understanding the discourse of teacher professional development through the lens of Professional Capital within the context of the varying quintile rankings of schools. Using multiple case studies, a sample of four educators from the Ilembe District, KwaZulu-Natal (two from quintile 3 - non-fee paying schools; one each from quintile 4 and 5 – fee-paying schools), were observed and interviewed. The findings of the study point to differences in the professional capacity and conditions of work as well as variations in the professional capital acquired and deployed by educators in fee-paying and non-fee paying schools. While the social capital of educators in non-fee paying schools are acquired and deployed in their schools as part of their “survival” humanistic aspects of schooling dealing with the socio-economic challenges of the school (crime, teenage pregnancy etc.), educators from fee-paying schools acquire and deploy their social capital that to a large extent fulfils the neoliberal agenda of performativity, competition and career mobility. This thesis contributes to an understanding of the varying dimensions of professional development as explored through a framework of professional capital. This study is also significant for educators in recognizing their potential to make appropriate decisions that inform their practices based on how they view their human, social and decisional capital informing their work as educators.