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Policy Papers and Research

Change Management: Best Practice in Whole School Development

This study was established to formulate a competency profile for change management based on a role analysis of School Management Teams.


1. Characteristic of the schools where change is well-managed is the presence of constructive leadership attitudes. Imaginative ways of implementing externally generated change are found. Furthermore, these schools have a relatively high incidence of internally generated change, such as fund-raising.

2. Principals are more positive about the future than educators who feel pessimistic about most of the recent changes that have taken place. The continuing prospect of rationalisation is by far the most mentioned cause of anxiety, which is understandable in a province such as the Northern Cape where educator: learner ratios are relatively low. Educators in schools of the former Cape Education Department are the most pessimistic.

3. Policy changes, particularly the abolishment of corporal punishment and greater learner diversity, are experienced by educators as increased workload, contributing to low morale. Under these circumstances school managers not only need to initiate alternative organisational systems, curriculum development and in-service training, they have to formulate strategies for improving staff performance.

4. All stakeholders, principals, educators, parents and learners, are convinced that the moral integrity of managers is their most important contribution. It is the public expression of values that provides a measure of stability during times of social and organisational change.

5. Interpersonal skills are always mentioned as a necessity. It is evident that there has been a significant shift towards a more democratic approach to school management. The principal is now part of a School Management Team, and needs to consult all stakeholders. The selected schools all had in place well-established structures and systems to facilitate decision making, that is both participatory and efficient. Participatory management competence is therefore essential.

6. The introduction of Governing Bodies is a significant innovation. Principals in the exemplary schools all co-operate closely with their Governing Body and view its contribution as crucial to the smooth functioning of the school. In certain situations School Governing Bodies have an extended role in attaining 'unpopular' objectives: for example, under-performing educators or parents not paying school-fees are reported to it. In one of the schools the Governing Body led a successful protest action against the Education Department.

7. Socio-economic inequalities continue to be a distinguishing factor between schools. A principal of a former model-C school, charging fees of R3-4,000 per annum, is in a very different position to the principal of a former House of Representatives or DET school where it is a struggle to obtain R15 in annual fees from the parents. The range of managerial competencies appropriate in one setting could be very different to those in another.

8. The current context of change requires of managers competencies in these roles: Beacon of moral integrity Driving force Manager of crises Multicultural manager Facilitator of participatory structures Pioneer of alternative organisational systems Negotiator Manager of multiple roles.

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