Governance model for South African schools based on a case study at West Bank Secondary School
Van Der Rheede, Christo Owen
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The core business of schools is to develop, implement and sustain an effective and efficient curriculum delivery process in order to provide quality education to all learners. External and internal changes though constantly affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the curriculum delivery process and it is required of schools to adapt and meet the demands that are required by these external as well as internal changes. Successful adaptation in an ever-changing environment also depends on how successful a school transforms itself into a learning organisation, develops conducive learning circumstances for learners and encourages constant learning by staff members as well. Research in this respect indicates that principals play a very important role in transforming schools into learning organisations. Schools as learning organisations are also recognised as complex organisations, which consist of multiple relationships or linkages between educators, learners, parents, fellow colleagues, provincial and national education departments, government, service providers, as well as other stakeholders. These relationships are never stable, nor predictable and it requires of principals to monitor, understand and interpret changing circumstances and respond appropriately. Appropriate responses must reflect our country’s constitutional values, which promote collaboration and consultation with all stakeholders. It also requires of school principals to apply a leadership approach, which not only facilitates participation by all stakeholders, but which focuses on empowerment as well. Furthermore, the role of principals in leading and managing schools has changed tremendously and there is a great need to empower principals and school management teams with facilitatory-and-empowering leadership competencies. Such competencies will enable them to understand, interpret and manage change in collaboration with other role-players much more effectively. It will also enhance their ability to effectively lead and efficiently manage the curriculum delivery process and all other supportive systems, such as the academic planning, assessment, finance, procurement, maintenance and human resources systems. Considering the former, this study focuses on the development of a governance model for schools, which considers schools as complex organisations continuously affected by change in the external as well as internal environment. Hence, the governance model provides principals and senior staff members with the understanding how to manage these changes in terms of principles which are derived from complexity theory. Complexity theory informs the practice of school leadership coherently and provides principals with the insight to look at the school educational system as a whole in order to advance organisational effectiveness continuously. According to complexity theory, no system is stagnant; it constantly changes, adapts, learns and evolves. The governance model therefore outlines various facilitatory-and-empowering leadership approaches which are required to cope in an environment which are continuously affected by change. It also illustrates the supporting role of effective communication and sound labour relations in this respect and outlines various management roles, which are required of the principal to transform schools into learning organisations. The governance model also focuses in particular on three essential governance processes, which are applicable to the translation of monetary allocations into appropriate nonpersonnel resources. These governance processes are budgeting, cost management and information technology. The last part of the model focuses on the various control systems for quality assurance purposes, such as whole school evaluation, systemic evaluation, performance appraisal and risk management. In conclusion, West Bank secondary school was used as a case study to experiment with and study the impact of appropriate leadership approaches, management roles, governance processes and controls. The integration of existing research and practice knowledge at this institution aims to extend the scope of application of the governance model to all schools in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.