The relation between principals' leadership styles and learner performance in public high schools in Cape Town in the Western Cape Province.
Post-apartheid South Africa has seen a significant shift in decision-making at public schools. While education reform by the government was necessary for addressing the imbalances between affluent and historically disadvantaged schools in the country, learners’ academic success remains alarmingly low at less affluent schools. This poor academic performance has been linked to the quality of principals’ leadership practices. As a leader, the principal performs critical functions in facilitating a school's academic development and output. Yet there is a paucity of empirical research on the relationship between school leadership and learners’ academic performance in South African schools. Notably, literature on the role of the principal in addressing poor learner academic performance remains inadequate. It is for this reason that this study investigates the leadership styles currently employed by principals to address learners’ academic performance. This is a qualitative research study with a case study design. The case selected comprised two (n=2) public high schools situated in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Principals and members of the school management teams (SMT) were selected through purposive sampling because of their particular knowledge of the phenomenon. Once all the data collected from interviews had been transcribed, inductive analysis was applied using Fullan’s (2002) “Leadership in a culture of change” framework to identify emerging patterns. The findings suggested that the principal does indeed play a role in the academic success of learners, by employing a particular repertoire of leadership styles to address the shortcomings of himself, the staff and the learners. Further research with a bigger sample is required, however, to gain more in-depth insights into the relations between a principal’s leadership style and academic performance in South African schools. EFEC-5-6-2021
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