The role of leadership practices in establishing a curriculum policy platform at working-class schools

Terhoven, Rene ; Fataar, Aslam (2018)

CITATION: Terhoven, R. & Fataar, A. 2018. The role of leadership practices in establishing a curriculum policy platform at working-class schools. South African Journal of Education, 38(2):Art.#1497, doi:10.15700/saje.v38n2a1497.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


This article focuses on the way in which the school management teams (SMTs) of three selected working-class schools have developed and implemented a range of leadership practices within their schools in order to provide a platform for optimal teaching and learning. The article is based on qualitative research conducted in schools on the outskirts of Cape Town. Employing the policy enactment theory advanced by Ball, Maguire and Braun (2012), the article illustrates the way in which the context of these working-class schools impacts on the type of leadership practices that are employed; these practices, in turn, have an impact on the type of curriculum policy platform established in these schools. The article elucidates how governmental curriculum policy reform is ‘received’ by the SMTs, which are the schools’ formal leadership structures, and implemented in the ‘messy’ reality of the selected schools. We present the argument that the leadership practices of the selected schools’ SMTs are determined by the schools’ ‘materiality,’ in reference to the impact of the schools’ contextual circumstances on their curriculum processes and leadership practices. The findings show that the schools’ leadership practices are based on a narrow and one-dimensional enactment of the curriculum policy, which has negative consequences for teaching and learning in the schools. This article contributes to an understanding of the challenges of leadership practices in working-class schools and the enactment of curriculum policy reform in them.

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