South African Journal of Education

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The perceptions of teachers and school principals of each other's disposition towards teacher involvement in school reform

C Swanepoel


Worldwide teachers are faced with the task of continuously facilitating and
implementing educational reform that has been designed without their participation.
This exclusion of the key agents, who must mediate between the
change agenda and actual change in the classroom, from the planning and
decision-making processes, is detrimental to educational reform. Although
school-based management has recently emerged as the instrument to accomplish
the decentralisation of decision-making powers to school level, the success
thereof depends largely on school principals' disposition regarding teacher
involvement. It is argued that the expectation of principals regarding their own
leadership role, as well as the professional role teachers should fulfil, is a
primary determinant of principals' willingness to involve teachers in responsibility-
taking processes outside the classroom. The results from an empirical
investigation revealed that principals' perception, of the wishes of teachers regarding
involvement, significantly underestimated teachers' actual involvement
wishes. Likewise, the expectation of teachers regarding the willingness of
principals to involve them was a significant underestimation of the involvement
level principals are actually in favour of. These misperceptions probably discourage
actual school-based management and could jeopardize the implementation
of educational reform in general.

Keywords: decentralised decision-making; educational change; principals' perceptions; school-based management; school reform; teacher involvement; teachers' perceptions

South African Journal of Education Vol. 28 (1) 2008: pp. 39-52

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