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Leading for Learning: Developing an Induction Programme for Newly Appointed School Leaders in South Africa

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has signaled its intent to develop an induction programme for newly appointed school principals in South Africa. This is both timely and relevant given the importance of effective leadership in achieving the goals of school change and improvement. Induction, viewed within the broader paradigm of leadership development, is an important starting point for a personal and professional development journey that welcomes and orientates the newly appointed school leader into the institutional role and responsibilities of the position. The Principals Upfront Dialogue held on the 16thof May 2019 highlighted and explored the experience of newly appointed principals in leading and managing their institutions and how these experiences relate to their “readiness to lead.”

Dr Allistair Witten – Adjunct Professor at UCT – underscored the value of dialogues like Principals Upfront in allowing members to connect with and learn from practitioners in the field. He affirmed induction as a critical aspect in the professional development of principals. His presentation outlined the importance of induction and the elements that comprise an effective induction programme. In highlighting the South African context, he drew attention to the following five benefits for principals exposed to Induction programmes:

-Being orientated into the institutional role and responsibilities of leadership

-Understanding policy frameworks which translate into practices and routines, which in turn allow principals to achieve policy goals

-Developing skills, knowledge, and competencies that have practical applicability and are relevant to school contexts

-Building confidence to act decisively and build collective agency to address some of the challenges faced by schools

-Establishing networks of support to share effective practices, concerns, and ideas

There is a need for school leaders to develop knowledge, skills and competencies that have practical applicability and are relevant to school contexts. Allistair further noted the importance of collaboration among all educationists. An induction programme could present opportunities for principals to build networks of support to share effective practices, concerns, and ideas. “School leaders often work in isolated contexts”, Allistair explained, “but we want them to work with others, build their confidence to act decisively and build collective agency to address some of the challenges they face in schools.”