Identifying effective school management and leadership systems

Identifying effective school management and leadership systems

By Penreach Change Agents Mr Jabulani Khoza & Mr Sam Khoza

A common discussion point at schools is the effectiveness of its leadership and management, which is a determining factor of its overall success. There are various publications on how principals manage schools successfully and point out the contributions to a school that factors to dismal performance.

When the Penreach Change Agents evaluate the situational analysis of a school in the Penreach School Leadership Programme, we ask the following questions;

  1. What do school leadership and management mean for the people who are actually implementing it?
  2. What does it mean for a principal?
  3. What does it mean for a School Management Team ( SMT) member?
  4. What is the difference between leadership and management roles of the SMT and of the School Governing Body (SGB)?
  5. What gets managed? Why does it get managed?

Working with School Managers over a long period we realised that effective school leadership and management depends on a combination of varying factors such as listed here below: –


A visionary principal leads the school towards achieving the intended goals that impact positively on the school community. Working with principals, we have observed that a visionary principal inspires change and implements solutions at their schools. They take the lead to deliver high-quality learner outcomes. Visionary principals collaborate with their teachers and provide curriculum support, motivation and guidance. They support teachers to effectively implement the cycle of planning to enhance practices that lead to the development and implementation of an effective educational program in their schools.


Our experience in working with School Managers has revealed that there is ‘no one size fits all’ approach to management, it’s situational-based outcomes. Understanding the difference between the many different types of management styles, and how certain teachers and other employees respond to them make some principals effective leaders.


We refer to successful principals as ‘systems champions’. A systems approach is a line of thought in the management field which stresses the interactive nature and interdependence of external and internal factors in a school. The approach includes evaluation of teachers, learners, curriculum and content. The school is functioning like a ‘well-oiled machine’, as we like to say,  teachers know what to do, when and how. Effective systems also prove that learners know why they are at school and what is expected of them and the standard of achievement in the school.


The kind of stakeholder involvement we have witnessed to be successful is; on-going collaboration focused on what schools are there for; student learning is about transparent dialogue and there is a need for improvement.  When evaluating a school with effective stakeholder involvement, we have noted:

  • The staff take the lead in providing stakeholders with data and information they need to be productive partners around learner achievement.
  • Partnership activities are directly aligned with learner achievement goals.
  • Efforts are collaborative and genuine. There are meaningful roles for each party to play and these are clearly articulated.
  • Information sharing is transparent. Achievement data is clear, accurate and meaningful.
  • All parties are operating from common values and a common vision for learner achievement.
  • All efforts are mission-oriented and data-driven objectives presented.

Our take is that Principals are instructional leaders, therefore synchronisation of all actions, resources and techniques within the school is very important. A principal who is open to new innovations/ideas as an instructional leader turns to achieve more, and leading by example encourages all others to follow suit. We concluded that from our experience as Penreach Change Agents in the Leadership Programme, an effective school leadership model promotes sustainable measure in place to ensure a school continues its operations whenever the principal or other members of the School Management are absent.