The successful execution of curriculum reforms at schools is largely dependent on the leadership style that principals adopt. This emerged out of research undertaken by Ms Shamala Naidoo a recent MANCOSA graduate who researched the topic The Impact of School Leadership on the Management of Curricular Reforms, Johannesburg West District for her Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
Working for the education sector in Gauteng and being a school manager for over a decade has prompted Ms Shamala Naidoo to pursue this research focusing on seven schools in the West Gauteng education district.
The research findings suggest that a participatory management style where principals take on new responsibilities, adopt new roles and give educators the autonomy to develop curriculum would lead to a successful curriculum reform process.
Research findings further suggested that a strong correlation existed between curriculum management at schools and the principal’s leadership style.
According to Ms Naidoo it is essential for principals to be knowledgeable on new school curriculum and skilled in making the best decisions should problems arise in this context.
In paving the way for successful curriculum implementation Ms Naidoo said it was important for school principals to become instructional and curriculum specialists. She said it was essential for school managers to understand the curriculum content; the links between various curriculum components and its use in planning, instruction and assessment. “Curriculum specialists lead educators to agree on standards, follow the adopted curriculum; use common pacing charts and develop shared assessments. An instructional specialist helps educators to implement effective teaching strategies. This includes ideas for differentiating instruction or planning lessons in partnership with fellow educators. Instructional specialists study research-based classroom strategies; explore which instructional methodologies are appropriate for the school; and share findings with educators,” said Ms Naidoo. When re-assessing their roles and responsibilities at the schools they manage, Ms Naidoo suggested that principals look at promoting the development of school infrastructure for example building of laboratories and libraries. She encourages open communication among staff members in order for principals to gauge the extent of educators’ knowledge of the new curriculum. Ms Naidoo added the need for principals to host regular meetings or workshops to ensure that educators are up to date and following the curriculum programme. She said educators should be encouraged to strengthen their knowledge in curriculum development by reading the latest literature and use information and communication technology in its implementation.
In a move to inculcate a culture of participative leadership, Ms Naidoo suggests that school managers need to empower teachers not only to successfully implement school curriculums, but also to be curriculum developers and designers.
“Roles in schools should be defined so that opportunities are created in schools for educators to enhance their skills, knowledge and competencies in new areas. Leadership creativity must be promoted in schools so that values and norms such as innovation and creativity will grow and thrive within the confines of a school,” she added.
Ms Naidoo believes achieving her MBA placed her in “a whole new league of capability”, a qualification that enhances her leadership, management and administrative skills which are important when managing a school.