The Circuit Managers as the weakest link in the school district leadership chain! Perspectives from a province in South Africa
The role of circuit managers is an essential component of school district leadership, which provides a necessary bridge between schools and government. School districts play a vital role in continuously collaborating, guiding and leading, and challenging schools to raise standards. In this paper, we draw on a subset of semi-structured interviews with education leaders in the Eastern Cape province, on their perspectives on the circuit management role. From these interviews, circuit managers were labelled as the ‘weakest link’ in the educational leadership chain. We explore the cause, nature and the extent to which circuit managers are perceived to be the weakest link and the implications thereof. Our discussion engages various factors that lead to Circuit Managers being considered the weakest link in the education leadership chain and these include: poor circuit office structure, the high vacancy rate of Circuit Managers, and external interference. We argue for the strengthening of the Circuit Offices and suggest ways in which they could be utilised to add more value in the efforts to improve the quality of basic education in the public schools.
Keywords: circuit managers; district officials; educational leadership; school district; South Africa