This programme is aimed at recently appointed School Principals. The PIP assists both the newly-appointed principal and the school through the leadership transition phase by preparing the incoming school leader for the role, and developing the capabilities that are required to maintain and strengthen school functionality and performance. The programme runs over 18 months and comprises the following key components: training workshops; an action learning or action research project; mentorship, and participation in a peer learning network. Three common threads are woven throughout the four components – action, learning, and development (professional and organizational). This is offered at NQF level 7 and upon successful completion, students receive a certificate from the University of Stellenbosch.
Imperatives for a School Principal Induction Programme
Dr Al Witten (who is also the leader of this programme) conducted research for the Department of Basic Education on how to orientate and develop new school principals. His research identified the following key imperatives:
- That it be located within national policy frameworks, especially the National Standard for the Principalship in South Africa. This policy provides a comprehensive framework for what the country’s education system expects of those responsible for leadership and management in its schools.
- That there is a strong focus on “instructional leadership” as the primary orientation of leadership. In other words, the predominant focus of the leader is on the “instructional core” of teaching and learning in the school – where all the organizational structures, activities, policies, procedures, and practices etc. are connected (either directly or indirectly) and are supportive of these core activities.
- That there is an understanding of South Africa’s education policy frameworks, and, more importantly, how these are translated in practice to pursue and achieve policy goals.
- That there is a focus on the school as an organization, and how the leadership and management of the different parts of the organization is central to creating the enabling conditions for supporting and strengthening teaching practice and improving learner performance.
- That all of the above is grounded in context and the social realities of public schools in South Africa, which contribute to making it complex to lead and manage these institutions.
- That effective school leadership in South Africa is essentially about agency – defined as the ability of leadership (individually and collectively) to work with and through people to bring about authentic changes in the school that can be sustained over time (Witten, 2017).