The role of a principal in an academically successful farm school : a case study

by Nongauza, Anthony Davidson

Abstract (Summary)
This study looks at the various actions by the principal of a farm school in running an academically successful school. The study exposes the difficulties faced by farm schools and looks at how the principal confronts these difficulties and turn some of these into success stories. In trying to understand the role of the principal this study uses school effectiveness literature as a source and reference in an attempt to understand the actions adopted by the principal to make this farm school successful.

The study uses the interpretive orientation as the methodology for investigating the principal’s role. This is in line with my attempt at explaining the perceptions, views and experiences of the people who are working closely with the principal. I have done this by employing semi-structured interviews and participant observation. The information gathered from the respondents helped in the development of the role of the principal which in this case, is the expressed views of the respondents. The investigation is conducted as a case study and the handling of the information provided by the respondents is in line with case study methods.

The study has revealed that actions of the leader have an influence on the organizational success. The way in which the leader of Rocklands farm School conducts herself and the vision she shares with the people within the organization go a long way towards the improvement of organizational structures and their functioning. In this case the principal has been noted as particularly transformational, charismatic, instructional and transactional in her approaches to school administration and that her dedication to the cause of learners from disadvantaged background is reflected in her sacrificial actions.

The study has also found that the principal is considered to be fairly autocratic in her leadership, which is a departure from current leadership thinking. The study has also shown that socio-economic disadvantages do not necessarily inhibit the school from performing beyond expectation. With good guidance from the leader and trust among staff members the farm school has been able to overcome some socio-economic pressures to emerge successful in the academic field.

The fact that the principal of this school is a woman has not changed the overall findings that leadership qualities for successful schooling are universal and do not necessarily depend on the gender of the leader. This study suggests that leaders have a potential to turn poor situations in schools around and that leaders should as a matter of course ensure that they understand the organizational dynamics within their schools. They should be in the forefront as agents of change being mindful that those within the school understand and share the vision the leader has. The study also suggests that the human element in the educational processes in schools is of critical importance than the conditions in which schools find themselves.

Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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