Rationale and purpose

In the context of Whole School Improvement initiatives currently targeting underperforming state schools in South Africa, the school principal is an important agent for change. BRIDGE believes in the transformative power of the principal to reshape a school, and to this end supports and capacitates school principals to harness their roles as instructional leaders, not merely organisational managers, in order to improve the basic functionality of the school.

BRIDGE’s National School Leadership Community of Practice is a forum where school leaders and principals, practitioners supporting school leaders and programme facilitators working in schools share their wealth of knowledge, working practice and innovations while strengthening collaboration opportunities. Focusing on the role of the principal and her/his ability to exercise influence in key domains of the school, this community believes that effective leadership can transform learner outcomes and performance.

Key Activities

This Community of Practice is focused on school principals as leaders in curriculum management, instructional practice and instructional leadership, and explores how these qualities impact on the classroom and the school.

The community also investigates models for mentoring and coaching for school leaders to help build effective schools, and an action group was formed to deepen this discussion. The Mentorship action group was a space for facilitators and school leaders alike to interrogate and reflect on their own practice while developing working practice for capacitating school leaders and district officials. This driven and dynamic group was successful in engaging the Department of Basic Education in its development of provincial and district mentorship frameworks. These frameworks have since been adopted and remain in use.  The mentoring action group has since concluded its work, though many practitioners are active in the field and continue contact with each other.

Link to the BRIDGE Knowledge Hub for meeting highlights, presentations, tools and documented working practice from this Community.


This Community of Practice was established in 2010 following a series of successful School Leadership Dialogues hosted by BRIDGE and ARK (Absolute Return for Kids). Through the dialogues the very real challenges facing school leadership and the need for coordination among those involved in the field emerged as key drivers for the Community of Practice.

If you are interested in collaborating on school leadership issues, contact info@bridge.org.za for more information.

Local Principals Communities of Practice

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 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. 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.

The first local Principals Community of Practice was convened in Ekurhuleni North in the Eastrand in 2012. A second group in Gauteng East, in the Brakpan area including the township of Tsakane, was established with the help and guidance of the Gauteng district office in 2013.

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.


The School principal has to be empowered not only with managerial skills, but also with leadership skills, to be able to ensure that learners are at school, in class on time and teaching is happening, and that it is quality teaching. The principal needs to ensure all are involved including the community and the governing body. The school principal is at the centre of all of this,  and at all times we have to ensure the principal is given the necessary resources, and skills to be able to lead. 

Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister: Presidency's Office