The role of the school principal in South African schools has evolved. No longer are they only seen as managers and administrators; they are also expected to be the standard bearers of teaching and learning activities at the school. South African secondary schools operate in varying socioeconomic conditions, and principals in these contrasting contexts are faced with challenges and tasks that may require differing school leadership and management (SLM) approaches. These challenges must be overcome while striving for quality educational outcomes. Most of the research on SLM and educational outcomes in South Africa is based on small-scale studies and are descriptive in nature. Here, we used data from the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), a nationally representative study of Grade 9 learners and their school environments. Our aims were to compare the characteristics of SLM in no-fee, fee-paying, and independent schools and to determine whether mathematics achievement gaps in different schooling contexts could be explained by the SLM qualities of a school. We measured SLM based on calculated indicators of a) instructional leadership, b) promoting an orderly and supportive environment, and c) the principal’s experience and training. The findings are based on multivariate estimations using self-reports from the principal and two teachers from 292 secondary schools in South Africa. This methodology allowed us to determine the associations (but not any causal relationships) between SLM characteristics and mathematics across schools that are similar in ways such as resourcing or student wealth.
Learner flows through schools: Using high quality administrative data to understand education system performance
The report analyses school flows, repetition, and dropout using a novel analysis of school-based assessments, and how well these predict future performance and learner flows. An important finding is that the high repetition and dropout rates in high schools imply an internal efficiency rate of only 49% (measured in terms of the years of enrolment in high school for every matric pass).
How basic education has improved in the Western Cape in the past six years
Repetition is a serious problem in South Africa, and the Western Cape is no exception. In any given year between 2007 and 2019, repetition has ranged between 72,000 and 100,000, with notable enrolment bulges in grades 1, 4, 9 and 10. An important consequence of repetition—when not cancelled by dropout—is an increase in the proportion of children who are older than what would be considered appropriate for a particular grade. For example, at least a third of grade 12 learners in 2019 were overage.
Learner flow through patterns in the Western Cape using CEMIS datasets from 2007 to 2019: A longitudinal cohort analysis
Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP01/2021
Publication date: February 2021