Exploring the lived leadership and management experiences of two Ethusini Circuit primary school Deputy Principals: a narrative inquiry.
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Deputy principals are leaders who are second from the top in the school hierarchical structure. There are some discourses that state that DPs are forgotten leaders or unsung heroes. Other scholars refer to them as the lifeblood or the engine of the school. DPs are responsible for a number of different roles as they navigate their way through a normal school day. Their most important role, however, is to assist the principal in carrying out the different administrative functions they are responsible for. There are debates concerning the actual roles that DPs fulfil at school which has led to some DPs arguing that there are role conflicts and role ambiguities relating to their responsibilities. The focus of this study was to understand the lived management and leadership experiences of two primary school deputy principals. This study took the form of a narrative inquiry in an attempt to understand the lived experiences of DPs in a primary school as very little literature focused on their lives. Field texts were generated using a collage inquiry, artefact study and a semi-structured interview. These field texts formed the basis of the narratives that retold the stories of their lives. The analysis of the narratives brought to the fore the following findings. The personal and professional identities of the DPs were heavily influenced by their faith and their family. The DPs indeed had a wide range of responsibilities, but their main focus was on maintaining school discipline and tending to departmental administrative tasks. Findings revealed that there exist some DPs who debunk the popular perceptions that DPs are under-utilised and unhappy. The DPs of this study revelled in collaborative projects and viewed this as one of their favourite school highlights. Dealing with problem parents and having to reprimand and even discipline colleagues were viewed as being not so pleasant. Both DPs had different future aspirations. Whilst one was confident of being the next principal of the school and actively pursues it; the other would like to retire to the countryside and not think of school again. We are learning from the storied narratives of the DPs that collaboration through teams as well as mentoring of Deputy Principals are vital for DPs to be able to navigate and adapt in their complex leadership terrain in schools