Bristol Conversations in Education - Measuring leadership and management and their linkages with literacy in rural and township primary schools in South Africa

20 January 2020, 12.00 PM - 20 January 2020, 1.00 PM

Professor Servaas van der Berg and Gabrielle Wills from Stellenbosch University

Room 4.05/06, School of Education, 35 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1JA

This event is part of the School of Education's 'Bristol Conversations in Education' seminar series. These seminars are free and open to the public.

Speaker: Professor Servaas van der Berg and Gabrielle Wills from Stellenbosch University

Since the 1960s, there has been significant growth in the global knowledge base on school leadership and management. However there is an increasing acknowledgement of the limits of this knowledge, with ‘far less systematic knowledge on how school leaders carry out their roles in developing nations throughout the world’ (Hallinger, 2017, p. 363). With respect to Africa, Hallinger’s (2017) recent review on educational management and leadership identifies the literature as ‘emergent’, with contributions dominated by one or two countries. But even South Africa, as the largest country contributor to the African literature, derives its knowledge base predominately from studies relying on qualitative research methods, with study locations limited to a few schools (Bush and Glover, 2016). There is still limited understanding of the empirical linkages between school leadership and management (SLM) and learning outcomes in the country and Africa in general (Hoadley et al., 2009), where statistical modelling is seldom used to explore leadership and management effects (Hallinger, 2017). This paper describes a rigorous process to develop and trial new metrics for measuring and codifying school leadership and management practices and processes that are considered theoretically related to literacy outcomes. The predictive validity of these measures is assessed in challenging contexts including 60 township and rural primary schools in South Africa. We observe a randomness to how better leadership and management practices are distributed across better and worse performing schools. Regression analyses confirm weak and inconsistent linkages between measured leadership and management dimensions and literacy outcomes across the sample. However, we find evidence of stronger linkages with intermediate outcomes, including evidence of curriculum coverage. This research contributes to a burgeoning, yet underdeveloped literature on educational management and leadership in Africa and the challenges of measurement in this context.


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Emma Rossiter


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