Rationale and Purpose
In fulfilment of BRIDGE’s vision for school leadership in the country, BRIDGE supports Communities of Practice for principals at a district level in Gauteng. The position of a principal is often described as a lonely one, and these communities give principals the opportunity to network and give each other mutual support in a framework of trust.
The Gauteng East Community of Practice was the second local group supporting school principals to be established. This community involves principals from Brakpan and the townships of Tsakane and Geluksdal.
Principals within geographical proximity, some working in historically under-resourced township schools, meet every month in facilitated sessions guided by issues they identify as key to improving their effectiveness. These sessions are also an opportunity to maximize resources and share working practice.
Since its establishment, principals from this community have identified and addressed common problems and their possible solutions. One illustration of this approach is the Learner Review Session. In 2014 the principals, with the help of BRIDGE, set up a structured intervention to get feedback on school issues from learners. Interviews with learners were conducted by the Community of Practice facilitator under conditions of anonymity and at a distance from the principals. Learners were able to honestly and truthfully reflect about their school environments and help identify the key challenges to their learning on the basis of their own experiences. This feedback allowed the principals to reflect on the issues raised, and some of the principals have even gone as far as having their SMTs (School Management Teams) draft action plans to address the problems highlighted.
Link to the BRIDGE Knowledge Hub for meeting highlights, presentations, tools and documented working practice from this Community.
This Community of Practice was formed in 2013 through the guidance and ongoing support of the Gauteng Department of Education in successful efforts to engage the largest stakeholder in the education system. While the principals have varied experiences working in very diverse conditions, this group continues to build trust and communication, seeking each other’s help and advice even outside of the Community of Practice meetings.
Because of its sensitive nature, the work of the principals is closed for public contribution. However, some of the learnings and stories are shared on our platforms with permission from the relevant group.
To find out how you can assist these principals, or want to know how you can start your own principals community of practice contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Being a Community of Practice really assists a lot, because we’re able to communicate. We’re able to share good practice; we’re able to share the frustrations… and even the good things that happen.