Primary school subject leaders' perspectives and perceived competence on instructional leadership
Moeketsane, Maribaneng Petrus
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The interpretation of instructional leadership by stakeholders in the South African education sector influences the quality of teaching and learning, including in primary schools. From the literature, it can be seen that instructional leadership is treated as the ambit of principals alone. However, the critical role played by heads of departments (HODs) as subject leaders in instructional leadership also needs to be considered. Owing to the criticisms and prospects of other stakeholders in education regarding the application of instructional leadership by HODs and/or subject leaders, their role became more complex and was interpreted differently. This study explores the primary school HODs and subject leaders’ perspectives and perceived competence in instructional leadership in order to develop suggestions for the improvement of instructional leadership among HODs and subject leaders. The key premise is that the instructional leadership practices of HODs and subject leaders are constructed from their knowledge, understanding and beliefs about what instructional leadership is and is not. Therefore, the study investigates the nature of instructional leadership in primary schools. The study was quantitative in nature and followed a post-positivism paradigm. A descriptive research design with a stratified sampling method was applied, and 20 primary schools were selected to represent each of the five districts in the Free State Province. Data collected using a questionnaire that was sent to 231 HODs from the sampled schools in September 2016. The final sample included 205 teachers who lead subjects in primary schools and who responded to the survey. All the respondents possess a minimum teaching qualification and up to 20 years of experience. The findings give empirical evidence that HODs and subject leaders perceive instructional leadership as the jurisdiction of all stakeholders involved in education and the distribution of instructional leadership roles among staff members is preferred. The study also revealed that monitoring and control of teachers’ work is the main daily activity carried out as part of their roles, while other instructional leadership roles seem to be neglected. This provides empirical evidence that there is a need for the development of HODs and subject leaders in other features of instructional leadership as well as to increase the distribution of instructional leadership roles. It is recommended that HODs and subject leaders be developed in the aspects of instructional leadership, and that their development be carried out through formal training offered by accredited higher education institutions (HEIs).