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The role of the school management team in developing teacher leadership : the case of two public primary schools on the lower south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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The School Management Teams (SMTs) in South African schools hold formal positions of leadership within the school's organizational structure. Because of this, the SMTs carry the responsibility of ensuring that leadership is distributed to other colleagues irrespective of status or authority in the hierarchy. On the other hand, level one educators do not hold any formal leadership position, yet the Norms and Standards for Educators (2000) expects teachers to take on leadership roles, among others, that of a leader, manager and administrator. The aim of this study was to explore the roles of the SMTs in developing teacher leadership in their schools, and to examine how the SMTs and teachers understood and enabled teacher leadership. This study was conducted in two primary schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and was qualitative in nature. The study used different data collection techniques, that is, the semi-structured interviews with the SMT members at both schools and focus group interviews with all level one educators at both schools. The findings of this study indicated that it is true that the concept of teacher leadership is relatively new to the majority of researchers and educators in South Africa. The concept was also understood differently by different educators and the concept was associated in the first school with a discourse of delegated leadership as opposed to distributed leadership. In this school the SMT delegated unwanted duties to teachers, not with the aim of developing teachers as leaders, but with the intention of getting administrative assistance for technical and mundane tasks. Findings in the second school revealed that although the participants understood the concept in diverse ways, teacher leadership was indeed happening. In this school it was clear that although educators were not familiar with the concept, teacher leadership was happening within a context of dispersed distributive leadership. Using Grant's (2007) model of teacher leadership, in the first school in this study teacher leadership was restricted to Zone One where the teacher is only concerned with what is happening in his or her classroom. In the second school teacher leadership was understood to operate in Zone One, within the classroom but also operated within Zones Two, Three and Four as well. Policy silence on the roles of the SMTs in developing teachers as leaders was also evident from the responses of the SMT members at both schools. The issue of training of SMT members and teachers on the areas in which teachers want to become leaders and the lack of support programmes for teacher leadership was evident in this research study. Recommendations include the need to move away from the traditional way of thinking about leadership as a one-man task and realize that leadership should be distributed to other colleagues in order to develop them as leaders. By so doing, teachers in their schools can develop a sense of ownership since they will be working collegially and collaboratively towards whole school effectiveness and school improvement.


Thesis (M.Ed.) - University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2008.


Educational leadership., School management and organization--South Africa., Theses--Education.