An action-learning model to assist Circuit Teams to support School Management Teams towards whole-school development

  • Geoffrey Van Der Voort
  • Lesley Wood
Keywords: action learning, action research, circuit improvement plan, Circuit Team(s), District Office, model, school improvement plan, School Management Team(s), whole-school development


The Education District and Circuit Offices in South Africa are mandated by the Department of Basic Education to support schools under their jurisdiction. Reasons for the lack of such support to schools have been highlighted in various reports and research findings. This paper examines the role that properly constructed school improvement plans, developed by schools, and circuit improvement plans, developed by the Circuit Team, plays in effective district/circuit support to schools. We report on the construction of a theoretical model to assist Circuit Teams to support School Management Teams of underperforming high schools towards whole-school development in which these improvement plans play a central role. We followed an action research design, employing qualitative data generation and analysis methods. The participating School Management Teams and Circuit Team members attested to the value of the collaborative learning experience which ignited feelings of empowerment and increased cooperation. These findings suggest the value of an action learning approach to the professional development of both School Management Teams and Circuit Team members. The action-learning model that emerged from this collaborative enquiry consists of three distinctive phases, each phase containing a number of specific activities to be implemented in order for schools to progress towards becoming self-managing institutions of learning.

Keywords: action learning; action research; circuit improvement plan; Circuit Team(s); District Office; model; school improvement plan; School Management Team(s); whole-school development


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100