The responses of primary school Heads of Department to by

The responses of primary school Heads of Department to by
The responses of primary school Heads of Department to
curriculum changes since 2005
by
Stephanie Cornelissen
Dissertation
Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree
MAGISTER EDUCATIONIS
in the
Department of Education Management and Policy Studies
at the
Faculty of Education
UNIVERSITY of PRETORIA
Supervisor
Prof. Dr. J.L. Beckmann
PRETORIA
March 2013
© University of Pretoria
Declaration of originality
I, Stephanie Cornelissen (student number 27155235), herewith declare that this dissertation
for the degree Magister Education at the University of Pretoria has not previously been
submitted by me for a degree at this or any other university; that this is my original work in
design and execution and that all material from published sources contained herein has been
duly acknowledged.
Signature:
Date:
Signature of Supervisor:
Date:
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Acknowledgments
I would like to thank the following people for their patience, assistance, and encouragement
throughout this wonderful opportunity I had:

God

Supervisor and University of Pretoria

Schools, principals, participants in this research

Eastern Cape Education Department

My principal – Mrs Van Pletzen

Parents

Family

MJ
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Abstract
With nineteen years of democracy behind us, South Africa has experienced uncountable
changes within its borders and on various playing fields. One of the most memorable
changes, in my opinion, was in education. This motivated me to embark on a study about the
responses of Heads of Departments (HoDs) to curriculum changes. I especially wanted to
focus on the management of those changes.
The focus on HoDs arose from the devolution of responsibility from the principal to the HoD
with regard to curriculum change. This uninterrupted cycle of curriculum change that South
Africa is experiencing occupies the HoDs to a large extent. They have to ensure that the
changes take place as smoothly as possible with as little resistance as possible. In order to
accomplish this, one would think that the HoD would be trained in managing a department
and curriculum changes. This is unfortunately not the case, and they are following their own
guidelines that they have constructed through trial and error.
This study was conducted through a narrative design within a qualitative framework,
allowing me to give a voice to those who have none. It required me to have focus group
interviews, which laid the foundation for my semi-structured interview. The use of
documents assisted with the crystallisation of the data. This research was conducted in the
Lady Frere district of the Eastern Cape. There were two sets of HoDs from different schools,
and one participant willing to participate in a semi-structured interview.
The purpose of this study was to find out what guidelines HoDs had constructed by looking at
HoDs’ responses to, and management of curriculum changes since 2005. It became very clear
that there is some confusion about what is expected of the HoD during the change process
and the HoDs in this study felt it better to follow traditional methods of teaching, as this was
all they knew. However, the focus on producing quality education was very important to
them.
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Keywords:
Curriculum changes, HoD (Head of Department), traditional methods of teaching,
quality in education, confusion about changes, narrative design, focus group
interviews, globalisation, qualitative methodology, policy implementation
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 An introduction to my study...................................................................................... 1
1.1
Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1
1.2
Rationale for this study ................................................................................................... 1
1.3
The demands of globalisation ......................................................................................... 3
1.4
The HoD as the centre of communication ...................................................................... 5
1.5
Problem statement ........................................................................................................... 7
1.6
Research questions .......................................................................................................... 8
1.6.1
Primary research question ........................................................................................... 8
1.6.2
Secondary research questions...................................................................................... 9
1.7
Aims ................................................................................................................................ 9
1.8
Methodology ................................................................................................................. 10
1.9
Conceptual framework .................................................................................................. 11
1.10 Theoretical framework .................................................................................................. 12
1.11 Concept clarification ..................................................................................................... 13
1.11.1
Globalisation ............................................................................................................. 13
1.11.2
Schools as organisations............................................................................................ 13
1.11.3
Leadership and management ..................................................................................... 14
1.11.4
Curriculum changes................................................................................................... 14
1.12 Credibility and trustworthiness ..................................................................................... 16
1.13 Ethical considerations ................................................................................................... 17
1.14 Working assumption ..................................................................................................... 18
1.15 Limitations of the study ................................................................................................ 18
1.16 Significance of the study............................................................................................... 18
1.17 Organisation of dissertation .......................................................................................... 19
1.18 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 20
Chapter 2 The road to curriculum change................................................................................ 21
2.1
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 21
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2.2
The phenomenon of curriculum changes ...................................................................... 21
2.3
Influences of curriculum changes ................................................................................. 22
2.4
The process of curriculum changes............................................................................... 25
2.4.1
Initiation .................................................................................................................... 25
2.4.2
Formulation ............................................................................................................... 27
2.4.3
Implementation.......................................................................................................... 27
2.4.4
Involvement in curriculum changes .......................................................................... 30
2.4.5
Time frame and frequency of curriculum changes .................................................... 33
2.5
What is needed for successful educational change? ..................................................... 34
2.6
Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 35
Chapter 3 The management of curriculum changes ................................................................ 36
3.1
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 36
3.2
Devolution of responsibility ......................................................................................... 36
3.4
Curriculum changes in South Africa and other countries ............................................. 39
3.4.1
The case of South Africa ........................................................................................... 39
3.4.2
Italy............................................................................................................................ 40
3.4.3
China, Shanghai ........................................................................................................ 40
3.4.4
Argentina ................................................................................................................... 41
3.4.5
Botswana ................................................................................................................... 41
3.5
Lessons learned through curriculum changes ............................................................... 42
3.6
Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 44
Chapter 4 Research design ...................................................................................................... 45
4.1
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 45
4.2
Qualitative research ...................................................................................................... 45
4.2.1
Characteristics of qualitative research....................................................................... 46
4.2.2
Qualitative research designs ...................................................................................... 48
4.2.3
Ensuring trustworthiness and credibility ................................................................... 49
4.3
Methodology ................................................................................................................. 50
4.3.1
Sampling.................................................................................................................... 50
4.3.2
HoDs as data instruments .......................................................................................... 51
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4.3.3
Introduction to sample ............................................................................................... 53
4.3.4
Data collection........................................................................................................... 53
4.3.5
Interviews .................................................................................................................. 54
4.3.6
Documents ................................................................................................................. 56
4.3.7
Data processing and analysis..................................................................................... 57
4.4
The role of the researcher ............................................................................................. 60
4.5
Ethical considerations ................................................................................................... 61
4.6
Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 62
Chapter 5 Data presentation and interpretation ....................................................................... 63
5.1
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 63
5.2
Approaching the data .................................................................................................... 64
5.3
Analysis of data from focus groups .............................................................................. 65
5.3.1
Confusion about changes .......................................................................................... 66
5.3.2
Traditional methods of teaching................................................................................ 69
5.3.3
Quality in education .................................................................................................. 70
5.4
Data analysis from semi-structured interview and documents ..................................... 73
5.4.1
Confusion about changes .......................................................................................... 75
5.4.2
Traditional methods of teaching................................................................................ 75
5.4.3
Quality of education .................................................................................................. 76
5.5
Interpretation of data ..................................................................................................... 78
5.5.1
Responses of HoDs ................................................................................................... 78
5.5.2
Management by the HoD during changes ................................................................. 80
5.6
Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 84
Chapter 6 Overview, findings, and conclusion ........................................................................ 85
6.1
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 85
6.2
Overview ....................................................................................................................... 85
6.3
Findings......................................................................................................................... 87
6.4
Conclusion about working assumption ......................................................................... 89
6.5
Limitations of the study ................................................................................................ 89
6.6
Significance of the study............................................................................................... 90
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6.7
Recommendations for future research .......................................................................... 91
6.8
Recommendation for improvement of practice ............................................................ 91
6.9
Concluding remarks ...................................................................................................... 92
Bibliography ............................................................................................................................ 93
Appendix 1: Ethical clearance and permission ........................................................................ 99
Appendix 2: Newspaper headings ......................................................................................... 101
Appendix 3: Semi-structured interview questions ................................................................. 103
Appendix 4: Interviews .......................................................................................................... 104
Appendix 5: Development of themes .................................................................................... 113
Appendix 6: Documents ........................................................................................................ 116
List of figures
Figure 1.1: The influence of globalisation on HoDs................................................................ 11
Figure 1.2: The types of curriculum changes........................................................................... 15
Figure 2.3: Interactive factors affecting implementation (Fullan, 2007, p. 87) ....................... 28
Figure 5.5: Confusion about changes....................................................................................... 66
Figure 5.6: Traditional methods of teaching ............................................................................ 69
Figure 5.7: Quality in education .............................................................................................. 71
Figure 5.8: Managing changes systematically and successfully .............................................. 83
List of tables
Table 5.1: Themes with subthemes .......................................................................................... 65
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List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
C2005
Curriculum 2005
CAPS
Curriculum and Assessment Policy Standards
DoBE
Department of Basic Education
EFA
Education For All
GET
General Education and Training
HC
Horizontal Communication
HoD
Head of Department
MM
Middle Management
OECD
Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development
RNCS
Revised National Curriculum Statement
RNPE
Revised National Policy on Education
SGB
School Governing Body
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization
VC
Vertical Communication
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Chapter 1
An introduction to my study
1.1 Introduction
Change is always experienced differently by each of us because of our uniqueness. The
management of change is influenced by our own interpretation of the world. This makes
change a unique experience as no two people have the same idea about what the world is and
how it functions. The purpose of this study was to examine and understand how the Heads of
Departments (HoDs) within schools in the Eastern Cape have responded to and managed
changes in the curriculum between 2005 and the beginning of 2011. Research has been done
on how teachers experience this high impact policy environment. Bantwini (2010) studied
teachers’ experiences in the Eastern Cape, but very little is to be found on how HoDs
experience curriculum changes, making this study distinctive.
1.2 Rationale for this study
Since the end of the cold war, education has experienced many changes. Among the changes
was the breakaway from state funding due to the move away from a liberal state to a more
globalised nation. This caused schools to start functioning as independent organizations in a
competitive market. Being part of the market place brought new demands for the schools and
they had to restructure their modus operandi. They had to obtain funding from the private
sector that requested them to become more competitive and produce top results in an effort to
recruit top students and, with them, funding (Halsey, 2006).
South Africa was not excluded from these events taking place on a global scale. Not only did
South Africa have to deal with these changes, it also had to deal with the legacy of apartheid.
We have now had eighteen years of democracy in South Africa in which we have
experienced a great deal of change. Amongst the biggest changes we have experienced is the
overhaul of the educational system. Much has been said about how it has changed, for better
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and for worse. One thing remains constant: the presence of an outcomes-based education
(OBE) curriculum in our education system.
On 16 November 2009 the newspaper Beeld published a column about the changes that were
possibly going to be made to the curriculum. In the Government Gazette of 29 December
2009 (Department of Education, 2009) and in August 2010 the Department of Basic
Education made a number of curriculum changes based on the suggestions of a task team that
was specifically created for that purpose. Some of these changes were fewer portfolio
obligations for both teachers and students as well as fewer subjects for the GET phase. At the
beginning of 2011, a new curriculum plan was once again introduced: Schooling 2025. All
these changes are more than likely to have had an effect on the management of schools and
more specifically on the work of the subject department heads (HoDs) within a school.
The aim of this study was to find out what the effects of the changes were by exploring the
HoDs’ experiences and responses to them, and their management thereof.
By doing this research I have not only satisfied my own curiosity, but have also made a
contribution to the body of knowledge towards the understanding of why HoDs feel and act
as they do. Better understanding can lead to improved methods of development and
implementation of policies by making policy developers aware of how these changes
influence the management team of a school and thus better prepare them for changes about to
take place in the curriculum. I do understand that there are many role players in policy
development and not all parties can be satisfied.
This research was worth doing because of the possible contribution it may make towards
understanding how HoDs responded to, and managed changes in the curriculum within their
departments. It might enrich our knowledge of curriculum change, implementation
challenges, and opportunities, and of the role of HoDs therein. It can also assist other HoDs
and teachers to better prepare themselves for coming changes in the curriculum, especially
with the envisaged commencement of Schooling 2025 in 2014.
By exploring the experiences of HoDs during curriculum changes, one can interpret the
reality within which they function. People construct their knowledge and their truths about
the world through the experience they have of specific phenomena. Through the
interpretation of those knowledge constructs, one can see the creation of reality within those
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experiences. By making use of an interpretivist paradigm, I was able to analyse the data to
“understand social reality as [HoDs] see it and to demonstrate how views shape the action
they take within reality” (Cohen, Lawrence, & Morrison, 2005: 22). Due to the subjective
nature of a qualitative study I, the researcher, immersed myself in the data collection and
analysis process, whereas a quantitative study calls for a more objective stance. This study,
conducted within an interpretivist paradigm, allowed me to “work in an interrelated,
dialogical fashion” (Henning, Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010: 15) with the HoDs in order to
understand how they construct their knowledge.
My role as researcher in a qualitative study was to act as the research instrument which
entailed conducting interviews with the participants in an attempt to collect data on how they,
the HoDs, experienced and responded to the changes and how they managed the changes that
occurred in the curriculum. In short, I collected their truths, and tried to understand how they
made sense of those truths.
1.3 The demands of globalisation
Globalisation is demanding a new kind of educational organisation causing a high impact
policy setting that possibly creates policy fatigue among HoDs. The world governance and
economy have changed to those of a globalised world. One of the key changes was in
education and the influence politics has on it. As mentioned earlier (see par. 1.2) the end of
the cold war brought with it the rapid expansion of the world economy resulting in more
emphasis being placed on how governments control and contain the flow of educational
practices. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) highlights
the importance of “international testing and benchmarking for global economic competition
competitive, but they are increasingly interested in using education to produce ‘social
cohesion’” (Mundy, 2007), an ideal of globalization.
Another ideal of globalisation is the utilisation of the belief that “market values and practices
can promote [our] efficiency, effectiveness and economy” (Mok, 2005) in turn causing
governments to question their state-centred approaches to education and their effectiveness.
Governments who adopted these market ideologies and practices to enhance efficiency,
effectiveness, and the economy are reshaped by deregulation, privatization, liberalization,
new public management, the scaling back or privatization of welfare and social services,
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revitalization of non-state sectors, and marketing (Mok, 2005). The privatisation and the
marketisation of individual states have a great effect on education: privatisation leads to
making state or public enterprises such as schools private, forcing them to adopt and use
business principles to govern themselves, which may have an impact on the resources and the
acquisition thereof. Monkman and Baird (2002) point out that moving towards the
privatisation of the income of schools, which is expected from globalization, may not
necessarily lead to a higher quality of education. It may cause a bigger rift between the haves
and the have-nots, resulting in inequality when it comes to the access to quality and
affordable education. Ozga (in Brisard, Menter, & Smith, 2007) points out that “globalization
redefines and reinforces the links between education and the economy thereby shaping
education policy and driving the modernization agenda in education.”
In a world dominated by the idea of a global knowledge economy, education plays a vital role
in the growth of the economy. In order to play this vital role, education must be able to adapt
to the requirements the knowledge economy places on it. The World Bank is offering
developing countries funds to enhance their education systems, especially the primary
system, on condition that they conform to the privatisation of certain publicly-funded services
(Halsey, 2006), allowing an education system that is more market driven to develop. This
requirement of the World Bank caused some countries to adapt their education systems to
serve the needs of the market and individualism, which service the knowledge economy
development (Robertson, 2005) and require a new kind of leader and a new kind of structure
to cope with all these curriculum changes. “Ideally educational change represents a process
which involves people defining what is effective education; what now exists in the schools;
and what alternative strategies or designs are available for improving current practice” (Nur,
2001).
For schools to provide the best possible education they need to have effective leaders and
managers. They also need effective teachers who are well trained and committed to their jobs.
It is very important to the education process and the organisation process underpinning it that
there are clear aims for that organization. Cuban (in Bush, 2007) links leadership with change
and in return, management is seen as a maintenance activity. He distinguishes as follows
between the two: “leaders are people who shape the goals, motivations, and actions of
others,” whereas managers are responsible for “maintaining efficiently and effectively
organizational arrangements” (Bush, 2007: 392). In the case of South Africa, we should be
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more focused on basic management, making schools more functional, than having a visionary
approach. Once the schools are functional, we can start focusing on our vision for the school
as an organization (Bush, 2007: 393).
1.4 The HoD as the centre of communication
The HoD finds himself or herself in middle of the centre of communication between the
strategic apex and the operational core (see par. 4.3.2). According to Kerry (2005), the HoD
not only has to deal with juggling the communication of information between the strategic
apex and the operational core, but also has two other prominent roles: one as a subject leader
promoting learning and teaching in a specific subject; and one as a middle manager. These
two roles often clash due to their nature and the requirement of commitment towards the
school. One advocates the expansion and improvement of the curriculum whereas the other
focuses on maintaining the budget and looking after the financial well-being of the school.
Kerry (2005) further talks about how HoDs are seen as transactional leaders through the tasks
they perform; including balancing the books, filling in forms, keeping records, etc. These are
basically bureaucratic tasks. In contrast, HoDs must also act as transformational leaders who
are seen as having a motivational and supportive role in regard to their followers.
It is a useful skill to be able to switch between the different types of leadership when you find
yourself in a peculiar situation as the HoD often does. Not only must the HoD act as a leader,
but he or she must also be able to act as a follower. However, everything the HoD does is
determined by the mission and vision of the school as well as those of the more senior
managers. Even if the HoD leads his or her department well, the result often coincides with
the quality of his/her followers. “Leaders work more effectively where there are effective
followers” (Kerry, 2005: 70). Nonetheless, the HoD is accountable for the performance of
that specific department and has to work together with the strategic apex to bring about
change in the school.
Chatwin (2004) describes middle management (MM) as agents of change, making them the
core condition for the initiation of change in a school. Strategy for change is then seen as a
“conversation” between the senior management and middle management. MM also acts as
subject leaders and teachers and has a lateral as well as an upward influence in the
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organization. The demonstration of “political competence” is necessary for influencing others
when it comes to change, and thus is a key feature for MM. Busher and Harris (1999) have
identified four dimensions with regard to the HoD’s work:
1. The translation of perspectives and policies of senior staff into individual practices, thus
acting as a transactional leader.
2. The encouragement of staff to develop a group identity. “Foster[ing] collegiality within
the group by shaping and establishing a shared vision” among staff (transformational
leader).
3. Improving staff and student performance. This involves both transactional leadership and
transformational leadership.
4. Acting as a liaison and a representative. “This requires [HoDs] to be in touch with a
variety of actors and sources of information in the external environment of the school and
to negotiate, where necessary, on behalf of the other members of the department” (Busher
& Harris, 1999: 308).
Ganguly (2001) proposes that the success of a curriculum does not solely rest with the
management, but also with the teachers’ training, commitment, and competence. However, he
puts the ball into management’s court by emphasising the importance of “spelling out the
curricular contents, training and re-training of teachers, curriculum delivery and transactions,
and providing learning materials” (Ganguly, 2001: 50), for which the HoD can be held
accountable as he or she is a subject expert. It is expected of the HoD, as part of his/her
management duties with respect to curriculum changes, to understand the need for change,
and work collaboratively with teachers to select appropriate content creating conformity
among teachers, and to organise content to ensure that learning experiences are optimal and
that evaluation is taking place efficiently (Ganguly, 2001).
Having established the uniqueness of HoDs and their management requirements, it seems
clear that they are vital in the adaptation to the requirements of the knowledge economy.
Several studies have been done about how teachers experience the changes in the curriculum
and how they have dealt with them. Among them is Bantwini’s (2010) research on how
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teachers perceived the new curriculum reform in the Eastern Cape Province. Bantwini
discovered several reactions to experiences about curriculum reform Among others
change/reform was seen as a burden, the shortage of teachers caused a serious problem,
moving from the known to the unknown too quickly, lack of parental support, time being
seen as an enemy and inadequate remuneration. HoDs are classified as teachers as well, and I
have to assume that they had similar experiences with the changes with which they had to
cope. However, HoDs are also seen as part of the management and as agents of change,
making their experiences unique and researchable.
1.5 Problem statement
The focus on HoDs is due to the peculiar situation in which they are. A school functions
mainly as a bureaucratic organization due to the nature of dividing responsibility (Lunenburg
& Ornstein, 2008) where there are two or more important role players: the strategic apex
(principal and the senior management team) and the operational core (the teachers). Figure
4.1 illustrates how the communication between HoDs, the strategic apex, and the operational
core takes place within the area of curriculum changes. Communication takes place vertically
(VC) between the strategic apex and the HoDs, as well as horizontally (HC) between the
HoD (who assumes the role of a manager and a teacher) and the other teachers within the
department. HoDs themselves are still teachers in that specific subject, making them part of
the operational core, but they have to report to the strategic apex and relay their policy
decisions to the operational core (Hoy & Miskel, 2001). This makes the HoD pivotal in the
success of curriculum changes.
When changes in policy take place, either internally or externally, HoDs are responsible for
communicating these decisions and the procedures to be followed to the operational core.
Research has been done about how teachers experience these changes (Smit, 2001) and how
they perceive the curriculum of South Africa (Bantwini, 2010). South Africa finds itself in a
high impact policy setting, where new policies are constantly introduced or old ones
amended. Torres et al. (2008) suggest that managers tend to choose policies that are more
visible but create less controversy hoping that it will have a more positive effect on staff. It is
the job of the HoD to communicate those policy choices as well as to promote his or her
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subject at the same time (Kerry, 2005). This opens the door to internal conflict which may
lead to resistance of change.
We have seen huge attempts to make education comply with the demands of the “new”
economy in the form of deep-seated changes in curricula to lead to the production of a new
kind of learner who is a more skilled and critical thinking labourer (Tabulawa, 2009), but it
seems we have not taken into account what it might imply for teachers and their managers.
The ever-changing curriculum indicates to me that the initial choices made for the direction
and shape of a post-apartheid education system in a new South Africa, did not and still do not
yield the results initially expected, thus creating a high impact policy setting which might
possibly cause policy fatigue among managers, teachers and the community of a school. The
responses to, and the management of the peculiar situation in which the HoD found him- or
herself during these changes is what I wanted to find out and understand.
During this research, it was assumed that HoDs have to cope with the demands of an everchanging curriculum and that they know how to manage it and lead the teachers in their
department to greater heights. However, I wanted to explore the possibility that this might not
be the case and that HoDs are trapped between the leadership that is required from them by
the DoBE and the strategic apex of a school and the leadership they are capable of providing
to the teachers who report to them.
1.6 Research questions
I have developed a research question that aims to explore the role of HoDs during the
changes and how they experienced curriculum changes from their middle management
position.
1.6.1 Primary research question
How have Heads of Departments from schools responded to, and managed changes in the
curriculum since 2005?
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1.6.2 Secondary research questions
a. What is the rationale behind the curriculum changes in South Africa?
b. What does the literature say about the effective management of change?
c. How equipped were the HoDs to successfully and effectively implement the new
parameters required by the curriculum changes?
d. How has the HoDs’ management of their departments changed with respect to:
i.
Motivation of self,
ii.
Motivation of teachers, and
iii.
Assistance to teachers when changes occurred?
e. What are the HoDs’ perceptions and experiences of the curriculum at this moment in
time?
For me it was of vital importance to get to know the middle manager’s position is between
being a teacher and being the manager, especially when it comes to curriculum changes.
1.7 Aims
The aim of this study was to determine HoDs’ responses to, and the management of changes
in the curriculum since 2005. More specifically I was interested in the motivation of self,
other teachers and the assistance that was lent to those teachers during transition periods.
During the data analysis it became evident that most HoDs were focused on the quality of
education that his or her department was able to provide.
The following aims were also pursued namely to:
i.
Determine what changes to the curriculum were brought about between 2005 and the
beginning of 2011.
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ii.
Assess how equipped the HoD was when it came to implementing the new parameters
required by the curriculum changes.
iii.
Find out what experiences equipped the HoD to deal with the implementation of the
curriculum changes.
iv.
Determine how the HoDs’ management of the department has changed with respect to
motivation of self, administration of teachers and assistance to teachers when changes
occurred.
v.
To explore how the HoDs feel about the curriculum at this moment in time.
1.8 Methodology
Due to the nature of my research question, I made use of a qualitative research approach,
which allowed me to describe and understand the phenomenon through the experiences of the
HoDs within the natural setting of the school environment and how the respondents construct
their reality through their experiences (Maree, 2007). My chosen research sites were schools
in the Lady Frere District of the Eastern Cape Department of Education. I chose a narrative
design, as it gave me the opportunity to analyse the data in such a way that I will be giving
the voiceless a voice. A three tier approach to data collection enabled me to look at the data
from different angles providing a clarified interpretation thereof. The use of focus group
interviews, a semi-structured interview, and document analysis ensured the triangulation and
therefore the data gave a reliable understanding of the phenomenon. The focus group allowed
me to build a skeleton of key words and the semi-structured interview placed some flesh on
these identified categories. The document analysis was purely for the crystallisation of the
data ensuring that a reliable picture of what was being experienced was reflected.
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1.9 Conceptual framework
Figure 1.1: The influence of globalisation on HoDs
The effect of globalisation is greatly visible in today’s world. It affects most government
sectors and the operational spheres within them. The one government sphere I am focusing
on is education and schools as organizations. There is constant change within that sphere,
specifically concerning the curriculum. A school being an organization requires constant
improvement of the leadership and the management of the organisation for it to survive in an
extremely competitive market. HoDs are placed in a very peculiar situation within a school.
They are seen as part as the management (the strategic apex), but are also part of the teachers
(the operational core).
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Figure 1.1 attempts to illustrate how globalisation influences HoDs within the sphere of a
school, including the influence of curriculum changes and the demands for the improvement
of leadership and management.
1.10 Theoretical framework
When one is looking at how HoDs responded to and how they managed curriculum changes,
one has first to understand what curriculum changes are before trying to understand the way
they were managed. In this dissertation I made use of two theoretical frameworks in an
attempt to get better clarity about the change process and the management thereof.
The first theoretical framework focused on how the characteristics of implementation
affected HoDs. The dynamic process of curriculum change requires continued evaluation of
the process. The implementation phase of curriculum changes has many characteristics.
Among these characteristics is included need, clarity, complexity and quality or practicality
(Fullan, 2007). Before implementation can be successful these characteristics of change need
to be identified and resolved. During the research it became very evident that HoDs are very
focused on producing quality education but were struggling with confusion and their only
resolve was to apply the traditional methods of teaching.
The second theoretical framework was focused on how the HoDs managed their departments
during times of change. Van der Merwe (2005) suggested that management of change can be
put into five distinct steps. It was very evident that even though these five steps were present
in the HoDs’ management of curriculum changes, it was not as straight forward as was
implied.
By applying these two frameworks I was able to construct an understanding of how HoDs
responded to and managed curriculum changes.
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1.11 Concept clarification
1.11.1 Globalisation
Global, being the root word of globalisation implies that it has to do with taking the whole
world into account, but more specifically the trade and industry of the international
community. It strives to link national communities to the international community through
mass communication and economical conformity; thus, the concept of neoliberalism comes
into play as well. Jansen (2007: 22) describes neoliberalism as the “dominant mode of
conducting political and economic organization in a globalized world.” However, the one big
drive behind globalisation is capitalism, which implies the privatization of companies
formerly government operated, for optimal growth and expansion of the nation’s capital in a
global market. One example of such an effort is the promise of funds to developing countries
by the World Bank to enhance their education systems, especially the primary systems, on
condition that they conform to the privatization of certain publicly funded services (Halsey,
2006). However, globalisation does not only strive to unite the world economically, but also
culturally through the idea of a global culture (Christie, 2008): a fusion of cultures from all
over the world into one mega-culture community.
For the purpose of this research, globalisation can be described as the main influence for
schools to become functional in a market driven arena. It is a global event driven by the need
to unite, not only economically, but also culturally.
1.11.2 Schools as organisations
Schools are seen as complex systems, which interact with the community around them. The
composition of these organisations is made up of specific elements; when one of these
elements is not functioning properly, it might have a ripple effect on the wider community
around the system. These elements include the principal, the deputy principal, HoDs, and
educators. Within this organisation, the structure is a vertical hierarchy where responsibility
and authority are allocated to each element (Van Deventer, 2005). Everybody contributes
towards, and is accountable for the success of the organisation. The goals of this organisation
are “shaped by national and regional policies, influenc[ing] the particular way in which the
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school as an organisation is structured and functions”(Donald, Lazarus, & Lolwana, 2004:
145).
For the purpose of this research, schools as organisations can be described as organisations
which are greatly influenced by internal and external changes.
1.11.3 Leadership and management
Management is seen as an activity where the manager directs people; whereas leadership is
about guiding, encouraging, and facilitating people within an organisation (Ehlers & Lazeny,
2007). Prinsloo (2005) associates management with words like efficiency, planning,
paperwork and control, etc. whereas leadership is related to words like risk-taking, dynamic,
creative, etc. Thus, these two concepts are very different, but they are linked together by the
accountability they place on the strategic apex in regard to efficient and effective operation of
an organisation such as a school.
For the purpose of this research, leadership and management can be described as two
activities intertwined with each other with one goal in mind, namely the effective
management of the school as an organisation.
1.11.4 Curriculum changes
The idea of educational reform is 1) to address the inequalities of the past and 2) to battle
current skills shortages experienced (Bantwini, 2010). Another reason for curriculum
reforms, as Bantwini (2010) points out, is to produce “citizens capable of competing
nationally and internationally and who will contribute towards the economic growth of their
country.” However, change is seen as subjective by Fullan (Bantwini, 2010) where
individuals construct their own milieu from their experiences. For the purpose of this study,
curriculum changes can be defined in terms of the changes announced by the Department of
Education as “adjusting structures, programs, practices, or replacing them with better ones”
(Mphahlele, 2009).
For the purpose of this research, curriculum changes can be described as changes to the
modus operandi of schools concerning what and how they teach students.
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Below is the chronological order of chosen curriculum changes since 2005 that directed my
understanding of what curriculum changes are:

Changes on how assessment should be conducted in the GET band at schools:
Government Gazette No 29002, 7 July 2006

The introduction of CTAs: Government Gazette No 2962, 12 February 2007

The ceasing of learner portfolios: Government Gazette No. 32836, 29 December
2009

The discontinuation of the CTAs: Government Gazette No. 33160, 6 May 2010

Introduction of the idea of Schooling 2025: Government Gazette No. 33434, 2
August 2012

Introduction of the national curriculum and assessment policy statement:
Government Gazette No. 33528, 3 September 2010
Figure 1.2 summarises the changes selected. To change a curriculum fully or even to
introduce the idea thereof can have a significant influence on the motivation of HoDs. The
introduction or deletion of a subject or the changes to assessment may once again have a
significant effect on HoDs’ motivation.
Figure 1.2: The types of curriculum changes
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1.12 Credibility and trustworthiness
When data is collected during quantitative research, the instrument used must be valid and
reliable; meaning, the instrument must measure what it is meant to measure, repeatedly
yielding consistent results when similar samples are used: the trustworthiness of data. When
conducting qualitative research, the researcher is seen as the instrument. The validity and the
reliability of the research can then be seen in qualitative research as credibility and
trustworthiness of the research (Maree, 2007).
It is accepted that making use of different data-gathering techniques leads to trustworthiness
(Maree, 2007). Triangulation is a technique where the researcher makes use of more than one
data gathering technique to ensure trustworthiness, allowing for the proving and improving of
the validity and reliability of the research; which is a way of convincing the researcher and
the audience that it is a true account of the phenomenon investigated (Webster & Mertova,
2007: 91). However, “qualitative research sets out to penetrate the human understandings and
constructs” (Maree, 2007: 81) making way for the crystallisation of data, rather than the
triangulation thereof. The data gathered and processed from the focus group interview served
as scaffolding for possible themes identified and elaborated on during the semi-structured
interviews with the chosen participants. This allowed data gathered and themes identified to
become clearer during the semi-structured interview. The third step of document analysis
helped to confirm what has been said by putting “action” to the words of the participants
confirming events or an action with the HoDs’ documents, therefore crystallising the data.
I made use of audio recordings of all the interviews and transcribed them to ensure that I
captured the participants’ actual responses and meaning. After summarising the
transcriptions, I invited HoDs concerned to read the transcriptions to contribute to the
accuracy of the data.
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1.13 Ethical considerations
When collecting data for the purpose of conducting qualitative research, it might be required
of the participant to convey private experiences to me as the researcher. This requires the
existence of trust between the participant and the researcher. Creswell (2008: 238) mentions
the following key issues and considerations when doing qualitative research:

Informing the participant about the purpose of the study

Refraining from deceptive practices

Sharing information with the participants

Being respectful towards the participant

The use of ethical interview practices

Maintaining confidentiality

Collaborating with participants
Before any data gathering could start, I had to obtain ethical clearance from the University of
Pretoria, and permission to conduct research from the Eastern Cape Department of Education
(see appendix 1). Permission also had to be obtained from the school principals where the
HoDs work. Before the focus group interviews, as well as the semi-structured interviews,
took place, all the participants signed a letter of consent where the purpose of the research,
the protection of anonymity and the storage of data after the research has been completed,
were outlined. Another purpose of this letter was to make the participants aware that their
participation in the research was voluntary and that they could withdraw any time they chose.
I, as the researcher, was bound by the Code of Ethics for Research set out by the Ethics
Committee of the Education Faculty of the University of Pretoria.
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1.14 Working assumption
During this research I assumed that HoDs are experiencing difficulty with the demands the
ever-changing curriculum makes on them concerning the management of their department. I
also assumed, in terms of policy fatigue, with every change in the curriculum HoDs respond
less positively and less enthusiastically than the previous change, causing them to become a
negative influence on the teachers in their department.
1.15 Limitations of the study
Before I conducted the research I foresaw some challenges that might come to pass during
the research. They were as follows:

Lack of participants

The participants not being Heads of Departments but rather subject or phase heads

Incorrect interpretation of newspaper headings
These limitations are discussed in more detail in paragraph 6.4.
1.16 Significance of the study
Doing research is about breaching a gap that might exist in our current body of knowledge or
creating new knowledge. The contribution of this research was towards understanding how
HoDs responded to and managed curriculum changes. The responses of the HoDs revealed
that they are confused by the changes and that they prefer the traditional methods of teaching.
However, their main focus was on producing quality education in the midst of it all. The
study also revealed that the management of changes was not as straightforward as it is
suggested by theory. However, this contributes towards our understanding of how HoDs are
in fact struggling to make sense of the necessity of changes. This can lead to including
training opportunities for HoDs when new changes to curriculum are suggested.
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1.17 Organisation of dissertation
Chapter 2: The road to curriculum changes
This chapter is a literature review for the basis of my first theoretical framework. It explores
how changes are brought about in South Africa, how they are expected to be implemented,
and the different role players in each stage of the implementation
Chapter 3: The management of curriculum changes
During this second literature chapter I explored the management of curriculum changes and
how the HoD can play a very significant role during that time. I noted here how other
countries experienced changes on a national level and the difficulties which occurred in the
implementation phase.
Chapter 4: The research design
My study lends itself to a narrative framework within a qualitative sphere. During chapter
four I utilise the opportunity to express my motivation to make use of this methodology and
the way I went about collecting and analysing my data.
Chapter 5: Data presentation and interpretation
For this chapter I made use of the theoretical frameworks to analyse the data collected and to
build first the framework required for making sense through using content analysis and then
secondly adding “flesh” to that framework by utilising discourse analysis. The documents
collected were useful and demonstrated the amount of work the HoD had to deal with. It is
also here that I interpreted the data analysis.
Chapter 6: Overview, findings and conclusion
The final chapter not only gave me the opportunity to give my interpretation of the data but
also identified the further studies to which I am drawn.
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1.18 Conclusion
During this chapter I aimed to set out the framework for my research. It focused on why I did
this research and briefly summarised every aspect thereof. Doing qualitative research requires
analysing not only what the participants said, but also what was observed which led me as the
researcher to reach my conclusion. In the chapters that follow, I aimed to inform you as the
reader why I conducted this research and what guided my opinion about the conclusions.
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Chapter 2
The road to curriculum change
2.1 Introduction
This literature review is divided into two chapters because I am utilising two theoretical
frameworks to analyse the collected data: 1) the effect the characteristics of change have on
implementation and 2) the management of changes. Chapter 2 serves as a platform for
curriculum changes and chapter 3 for the management of those changes.
In this chapter, I will construct a road to curriculum change. It is important to identify first
the phenomenon of curriculum change, and how the modernisation of the global society calls
for constant improvement. I then move on to discussing how the perceptions and beliefs of
teachers and other role players influence curriculum change. The focus is then shifted to how
changes are brought about through a process of initiation, formulation, implementation, and
evaluation. Involving role-players in curriculum changes and the period required to initiate
these changes supports the argument of just how important it is to consider all factors when
embarking on educational change.
2.2 The phenomenon of curriculum changes
Change can be construed as reform, which according to Fullan “is not just putting into place
the latest policy, [but] changing the cultures of classrooms, schools, districts, [and]
universities” (Fullan, 2007: 7). In South Africa, one of the first changes the newly electedgovernment of 1994 carried out was to get rid of offensive language in, and to modernise the
curriculum to fit their agenda and their vision of a citizen of the new South Africa. They
aimed for a total reform of the education system by choosing Curriculum 2005 (C2005). The
idea was to unify all syllabuses and remove all aspects of apartheid, which were manifested
through the apartheid era. It also aimed at changing how a learning programme assessment
was done. They moved from summative assessment, which was done at the end of the
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programme, towards formative assessment, which was done continuously, informing
educators and learners about their progress and in the process improving the teachinglearning process (Nakabugo & Sieböger, 2001).
When a curriculum has to change, there are two foci: 1) policy and 2) knowledge. Education
policy is mostly symbolic and is fed by political agendas “that reflect the struggles of
opposing groups to have their interests, values, histories, and politics, dominate the school
curriculum” (Chisholm, 2005: 194). The other focus (that of knowledge) is more about “how
knowledge is constructed and what the role of the school is in teaching and learning”
(Chisholm, 2005: 194). In my opinion, the focus of policy appears to carry more weight than
that of knowledge when curriculum decisions are taken.
2.3
Influences of curriculum changes
Apart from the political motivation to make changes to a current curriculum or some of its
programmes, curriculums can also be adjusted to deal with the diversity of needs among
learners. Learner diversity is experienced in every classroom and organisation due to
differences in ability, interest, motivation, social-economic status, and the culture of the
learner (Saskatchewan, 1992). Countries, like South Africa, have changed their educational
system not only according to international agencies, such as the World Bank, to address these
issues, but also to rectify the wrong-doings of apartheid. Now students’ illiteracy is seen as a
“fundamental weakness within the post-apartheid education system” (Gilmour & Soudien,
2008). However, these proposed changes, such as C2005, were too symbolic in nature, and
did not allow for grassroots transformation (Gilmour & Soudien, 2008). It is important to
analyse the relations of social-economic and racial inequality when the need for educational
change is being addressed, making educational change a process of rectifying social justice in
South Africa (Gilmour & Soudien, 2008). England and Wales, for instance, are currently
focused on reforming to address inequalities, “as part of broader agendas to improve national
productivity and social well-being” (Fenwick, 2011: 679).
The rate of change is increasing exponentially in today’s world. “Organisations need to learn
at least as quickly as the prevailing rate of change” (O'Sullivan, 1997: 3). You can almost say
that schools are becoming “change junkies” not knowing what to do when there are no
changes for a while. Principals, middle managers, and teachers need to know why they have
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to change in order for them and the change process to be successful. To change in education,
one must change in practice (Fullan, 2007). Not only is the translation of policy into practice
problematic to policy makers, but the changing of core beliefs also seems to be challenging.
There are many factors involved when educational change or transformation takes place.
There are three ways teachers can change when a new policy or a new program is introduced:
1) use new materials; 2) use new teaching approaches; or 3) alter their beliefs. Educational
change can only take place when individuals embrace change by changing their beliefs and
when there is a change in an individual’s practice.
To make such a personal change becomes increasingly complex and it can be argued that
such change occurs on three levels: symbolic, linear and appropriation (Fullan, 1991, 2003).
As is the case with South Africa, educational change is often the face of political symbolism.
By changing the teachers, students, classrooms and communities, it might be plausible to
change a curriculum and the way teachers teach and students learn. The linear level of change
is a top-down process of curriculum change. The final level is the meaning of a teacher’s
experience of change. An individual’s life-stage has a great effect on how he or she
experiences and perceives change. For change to be successful and achieve lasting reform, it
is fundamental to change an individual’s beliefs first. Change begins with a transformation of
people’s perceptions and projects outwards into the social and institutional domain
(Vandeyar, 2008).
Blignaut questions the non-penetration of policies into the classroom (Blignaut, 2007). He
notes several factors that contribute to this unwillingness to change or even accept change.
The source of this might be the assumption of policy makers that teachers are “highly skilled
practitioners with excellent subject content knowledge, working harmoniously with fellow
colleagues” (Blignaut, 2007: 49) in a school with classes no greater than 25 students per
classroom. Resistance to change can occur when the subjective meaning of educational
change is ignored by policy makers and the personal engagement of those involved is deemed
unimportant (Blignaut, 2007: 50):
At a political level, it can be argued that if teachers do not feel a sense of
identification with the policy, its goals may be undermined by practitioners who
understand and accept neither its conceptual underpinning nor its curricular
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imperatives. In such circumstances a façade of reform is created, as teachers ignore
or even resist what is asked of them, or as they engage in [superficial mimicking],
playing out a role that has been legislated for them by the state. Teachers have varied
and complex reasons why they do or do not feel committed to a new policy
conceptually, politically or in practice.
It may also be a case of teachers not seeing a problem with the current state of affairs, making
changes unwelcome and unappealing.
“Change occurs more rapidly when people want to change, when they see some benefit in
doing so... new reform programmes demand that [teachers]... employ different testing
procedures or submit themselves to different types of instructional supervision, all in
response to a problem that teachers may not see as existing” according to Chapman in
Blignaut (2007). These suggested changes may conflict with what teachers believe and
inhibit the appreciation of educational change, and cause great emotional discomfort to the
individual. In America, educational change failed because they tried to change the core of
schooling; meaning they tried to change how teachers understand the epistemology of
learning and the student’s role therein (Chapman in Blignaut, 2007).
The stress caused by educational change may lead to avoidance of change, which creates
feelings of “hopelessness, as well as feelings of guilt and shame” (Blignaut, 2007: 53). It
communicates to teachers that their past practices were either incorrect or ineffective, causing
disagreement with a teacher’s professional, emotional, and political identities that are
recycled into more emotional stress and resistance.
Apart from the emotional stress caused by changing one’s beliefs, the lack of provision made
for the differences between schools causes even more resistance to curriculum changes. The
social complexity of change does not allow for as smooth a transition as policy makers would
like. Every school differs: in size, teacher experience, location etc. Context and culture plays
a great role in the success of change, and it has often been overlooked as in C2005 (Blignaut,
2007). According to De Clercq (, 1997) there is a great danger that the restructuring of
education can cause more harm by assisting the privileged education sector while making it
more difficult for the underprivileged as was the case of Italy (Polesel: 2006).
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2.4 The process of curriculum changes
Educational change is a complicated process with many role players that need to be
continuously taken into account. Policies can be viewed as sound actions taken to resolve
inequalities and re-establish unity in a community or using one’s authority to divide resources
among social groups as favoured. As evident in most literature, South Africa is currently
experiencing a series of symbolic policies aiming to rectify the injustices of the past such as
C2005.
For a policy to be successful, it needs to follow a certain path to ensure that the correct
message gets out there. Policy development or curriculum changes can have four distinct
stages: initiation, formulation, implementation, and evaluation (De Clercq, 1997). The first
three stages will now be discussed in more detail excluding evaluation. The reason for this is
that the evaluation of the curriculum change process is cyclical (par. 2.4.5) and throughout
this process every step must be evaluated to ensure the success of change.
2.4.1 Initiation
The identification of a need is the first and most important step of policy development and
curriculum changes. A group or a person is tasked with the identification thereof thus starting
the process of educational change by “promoting a certain program or direction of change”
(Fullan, 2007: 66). The desire to keep up with a changing global economy is one of the main
reasons for change, but South Africa is still focused on rectifying the injustices of the past
according to Gilmour and Soudien (2008).
Fullan identified eight key reasons affecting the initiation of change (Adapted from Fullan,
2007: 67-79):
1. Existence and quality of innovations: the social demographic make-up of the global
community allows for many different innovations to exist, all varying in quality and focus.
2. Access to innovation: due to the varying of social-economic status within the world, the
access to all different kinds of innovations is hindered by the lack of access to schooling
and technology. The meanings people assign to events in their lives are directly informed
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by their experiences. The lack of access to information puts certain groups of people at a
disadvantage for the development and growth required by a globalised world.
3. Advocacy from central administration: the advocating for change is an important part of
the initiation process. The impact and success thereof is however affected by the position
within the government or change agencies of the person advocating that change.
4. Teacher advocacy: teachers might not have a large impact on change on a national level;
they do however, have numerous opportunities to initiate change in their classrooms even
if it is little things to assist the students and improve their and other teachers’
methodology. Still, teacher unions are becoming very prominent in the initiation of any
new policies or changes. Through this process, the voice of the teacher is heard by the
government officials, granting them more power than in previous years.
5. External change agents: there have always been external change agents with an opinion
about the proposed innovation. In the last decade, these change agents have started
donating heavily to their preferred innovation, giving that particular change a greater
chance of being implemented successfully.
6. Community influence: communities play an essential role in the initiation of new
educational changes. Communities have the ability to make or break an innovation for
change by putting pressure on district officials through the school board, opposing certain
changes, or doing nothing. When a community does get involved with developing
innovations for educational improvement in their community, their role widely depends on
the demographics of the community and the education of the community. The school
governing body (SGB) provides the bridge between the school and the community in
South Africa.
7. Mandating new policy: governments are demanding accountability from teachers,
especially on issues such as literacy and numeracy, special needs, teacher education etc.
8. Problem-solving and bureaucratic orientations: innovations are either characterized by “an
opportunistic (bureaucratic) or problem-solving orientation,” as discovered by Berman and
McLaughlin (cited in Fullan, 2007: 78). Bureaucratic innovations are policies that give the
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school or district an opportunity to obtain funds, whereas a problem-solving innovation is
an opportunity to solve actual problems within that district.
When the need has been identified by choosing a successful innovation, it is time to plan how
this innovation will be set into motion.
2.4.2 Formulation
When a need has been identified and the innovation properly advocated to the correct
agencies or policy developers, it can be formulated into action. It seems that the formulation
of policies is “the responsibility of politicians and their representative institutions” (De
Clercq, 1997: 129). The next step is to start deliberating the proposed policy or change. This
is done by cabinet members and committees through public hearings and community forums
after which parliament have to clear the policy and formulate it as a White Paper. The White
Paper is then published to measure its attainability within the wider social structure. If
considered successful by various agencies it will be written into bills and legislation (Moyo,
2008). When this marker is met, they move towards the implementation of the policy or
changes.
2.4.3 Implementation
Implementing a curriculum change can be a very traumatic experience for teachers because it
is sometimes expected of them to change their beliefs or values about certain things.
“Implementation consists of the process of putting into practice an idea, program, or a set of
activities and new structures by the people attempting or expecting to change” (Fullan, 2007:
84). It is important to consider that curriculum changes can be a learning curve for even the
most experienced. Adopting this as the basis of making changes to curriculums might change
the way implementation strategies are approached.
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Implementation can be seen as a dynamic process influenced by several factors affecting
what determines the success and direction thereof. These factors can be divided into three,
each with an underlying characteristic. Figure 2.1 exhibits the three factors with their
underlying characteristics. Each of these characteristics has an influence on the success of
curriculum changes:
Figure 2.3: Interactive factors affecting implementation (Fullan, 2007, p. 87)
Before continuing with the explanation of these interactive factors affecting implementation,
it must be taken into consideration that Fullan’s book Education Change (2007) is based on
the educational change in Canada and the United States of America. However, this does not
imply that South Africa’s implementation process is vastly different from theirs. Each of
these factors is evident in our own society and has its own influences.
Characteristics of change:
1. Need: as has been mentioned earlier, change is all about satisfying an existing need. Due
to each group or person having their own specific need, it can occur that the other roleplayers in the change do not recognise that need and thus do not see the necessity thereof.
For example: teachers do not always recognise the political need for change, whereas
policy makers who are not on the ground level do not see the need that exists for changing.
This can cause a clash between ideas of what should be changed in the current curriculum
(Fullan, 2007).
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2. Clarity: not all the role-players are clear on what the specific need is, causing confusion,
and resistance to the change proposed by the policy makers (Fullan, 2007).
3. Complexity: the complexity of the proposed change must be recognised. Not all changes
to the curriculum are simple. The removal of student portfolios was a simple process,
whereas the introduction of CAPS is more difficult and requires more time.
4. Quality/Practicality: the availability of resources when change is required contributes
greatly to the quality and practicality of the change. With C2005 there was a lack of
material and resources, especially in the previously disadvantaged communities, causing
great resistance to the changes and a lasting negativity among teachers.
Local Characteristics:
5. School district: implementation at district level is very important, as the district office
officials greatly influence the success of change. They “set the conditions for
implementation to the extent that they show specific forms of support and active
knowledge and understanding of the realities of attempting to put a change into practice”
(Fullan, 2007: 94). It is interesting how teachers have become used to the idea of change,
and the attitude of the district officials towards a specific change indicates to them the
importance requisite of the change. It is important to remember that these school districts
Fullan refers to are not South African, but the South African districts are just as important.
6. Community: the school governing body (SGB) plays a role not only in the initiation of a
curriculum change but also in the implementation thereof. It can cause a great upset if it is
not satisfied with the proposed change, as was the case with the school in Grabouw in
March 2012 (Police monitor Grabouw protest, 2012). When the community and the SGB
are not happy with the change, they can put their energy into making it very difficult for
the district officials. It is the officials’ duty to inform the community and the SGB
accurately and truthfully whilst attempting to transform the energy put into resistance into
energy for implementation by getting them involved in the decision making process.
7. Principal: the attitudes of a principal will determine the seriousness of teachers’ approach
to the proposed change. What often happens is that the principals are not always prepared
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to handle the complexity of change causing severe negativity towards change as a whole
(Fullan, 2007).
8. Teachers: the teachers’ personality and previous experiences greatly influence their
attitudes towards curriculum changes. “The quality of working relationships among
teachers is strongly related to implementation. Collegiality, open communication, trust,
support, and help, learning on the job, getting results, and job satisfaction and morale are
closely interrelated” (Fullan, 2007: 97).
External Factors:
9. Governments and provincial agencies: any policy or curriculum change is politically
orientated where it should be the duty of politicians and their representative institutions to
listen to the lobbying of interest groups (Fullan, 2007). The biggest obstacle governments
have had to overcome has been the underestimation of implementation problems and
processes. However, they have realised the necessity for adequate resources and training
and are allocating “resources to clarify standards of practice, to requiring accountabilitybased assessments, to establishing implementation units, to assessing the quality of
potential changes, to supporting professional development, and to monitoring
implementation policies” (Fullan, 2007: 100).
2.4.4 Involvement in curriculum changes
There are different role players in the initiation and implementation of curriculum changes.
As demonstrated by figure 2.2 the role players are government, districts, communities,
principals, and teachers.
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Figure 2.2: The group of actors involved in curriculum changes

The government (national as well as provincial) is involved in deciding on which policy
they would like to implement or what changes are required to the current curriculum to
comply with investors or political pressure.

The districts (or whatever they are called in the various provinces) are in turn responsible
for communicating these changes to the school and guiding them to successful
implementation.

The communities are not always directly involved in the creating or implementing of the
changes, but their support is vital to the success of a school.

Principals are responsible for communicating these changes to their staff, and motivating
them as needed.

The teachers are at the core of these changes as they are the on the ground implementers
of any change proposed or set by the government. Teachers can be the difference between
success and failure.
I have taken some guidance from Fullan (2007), to explain what the functions of these role
players are and how they fit in with curriculum changes:
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Government
“[Q]uick solutions for urgent problems” (Fullan, 2007: 236): That is the modus operandi of
government, even though changes to the curriculum are complex procedures due to the
thousands if not millions of people involved in these transformations. With the
implementation of C2005, it was evident that the quick solution to do away with everything
pre-1994 resulted in unsuccessful strategies to reform the education system.
Districts
The administrators of districts are in charge of districts and can contribute greatly to the
success or failure of curriculum changes (Fullan, 2007). The American trend is for district
administrators to deal with curriculum change with few resources in a large district where
they constantly have to solve conflicts and crises pertaining to financial and/or personal
issues through a complex bureaucracy (Fullan, 2007). The administrator must be responsible
for guiding the school and its staff in the right direction by providing them with information
from the government (the top-down process of implementation) and guidance on how to
improve the school by the implementation of changes.
Community
The success of education depends greatly on the involvement of all stakeholders in the
process (Fullan, 2007). Parents and communities do not have much influence in the decisionmaking process when it comes to policy development concerning curriculum changes.
However, they have a responsibility to assist the teachers with the motivation of the students.
Parents and a community can, however, make a stand against the government and certain
decisions with which they do not agree. Some communities with strong and influential ties to
the government might be more successful than poverty-stricken communities. Nonetheless, as
in the case of Grabouw during the 2011 protests, public demonstration by parents and student
can make an immense difference to the direction in which their community is heading.
Principals
Change is not at the top of a principal’s priority list according to Fullan (2007). There are
other factors demanding more attention than change initiated by the government. However,
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there is a tendency to prioritise improvements to the school, whether it is discipline
procedures, teaching methods, or updating the school grounds.
Teachers
Apart from the main responsibility of teaching, teachers are required to perform other duties
as well. Every time the government deems it fit to make changes to the curriculum, teachers
are required to make a paradigm shift to adopt these changes. Sometimes these changes only
require minimum changes to classroom functions, or including or excluding certain features
of the curriculum. Sometimes it is required of teachers to transform their teaching or change
their belief systems in order to fit in with the new curriculum requirements. This can cause
great emotional stress and negativity towards changes, causing more resistance to change
than necessary.
2.4.5 Time frame and frequency of curriculum changes
The period of change to a curriculum depends largely on the scale of the change. A minor
change can be completed within a year, whereas changes that are more complex require a
period of two to four years. Major changes can (and I feel must) take five to ten years to
implement completely and to evaluate if they are going to be successful (Fullan, 2007).
C2005 can be seen as a major curriculum change, whereas the removal of student portfolios
was a quick change that took less than a year.
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Figure 2.3: Cyclical process of educational change (O’Sullivan, 1997, p. 12)
The frequency of changes depends on the desire and need for change. When a new
government comes into power, the newly appointed Minister of Education will start to
evaluate the current state of affairs in the education system and if it suits government’s
agenda. Curriculum changes are an on-going process where reflection takes place after every
implementation process and new needs are identified leading to re-formulation of policies.
“[W]e might assume that specific educational changes are introduced because they are
desirable according to certain educational values and meet a given need better than existing
practices do” (Fullan, 2007: 69). For that reason educational change can be seen as a cyclical
process as demonstrated by figure 2.3. Within this cycle we think of the needs to be
addressed within the education system, a decision is made and formally put into a policy
ready for implementation, we do it by implementing the recommended changes and then it
must be reflected upon, starting the whole process over again if additional changes are
required (O’Sullivan, 1997).
2.5 What is needed for successful educational change?
It would be an ideal world if every change implemented was successful, but then no need for
change would ever be required again. Pam Christie (2008) highlights two aspects that can
contribute greatly to successful educational change:
1. Committed government:
UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report of 2005 revealed that both Education For All
(EFA) and non-EFA countries displayed certain characteristics: (UNESCO, 2005)
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
The teaching profession is held in high esteem,

There is continuity of policy over time,

They try to achieve access to school before attempting high quality, and

Supply of well-supported and motivated teachers.
2. Changing core activities:
The government has found it difficult to change classroom practices and structures. It has
become known that it is easier to change governance arrangements than to change
classroom practices. Changes on the surface may give the appearance that change is
taking place, but in the classroom the old way of teaching is still practiced; it is necessary
to change not only management, but also how teachers do things. In South Africa the
government has failed to change the core activities of teachers and thus the changes of the
curriculum were only symbolic and superficial (Christie, 2008).
2.6 Conclusion
Throughout this chapter, I have attempted to emphasise the importance of the implementation
process and what influences its success. I have paved the way for interpreting what is
important for successful change: the beliefs of teachers, the ground implementers of a
curriculum change, and informing all the stakeholders truthfully and accurately about the
changes. Educational change can be interpreted as a cyclical process where there is a constant
construction of a need, thus making way for new opportunities to bring about changes. The
question asked then is whether the high quality teaching or the number of students determines
the success of education in the classroom. In addition, how are HoDs motivating changes in
classroom practices when we have failed to change the core activities of teachers?
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Chapter 3
The management of curriculum changes
3.1 Introduction
The idea of chapter 2 was to set the scene for curriculum changes and how this influences the
people who are involved in it. This chapter focuses on the management aspect of curriculum
changes. By delegating the responsibility of the management of curriculum changes to the
HoD, a principal has more time for the daily management of the school. Unfortunately,
change can be challenging and it is the HoD’s responsibility to ensure that there is as little
resistance as possible to change. The psychological and organisational reasons for change
might delay the change process, resulting in an inability of the organisation to keep up with
global demands. Even though South Africa’s situation may seem unique, there are many
examples of change on a national scale; some not as effective as others. However, valuable
lessons can be learned from them. It is important to learn from one’s own past mistakes and
to try not to repeat them.
3.2 Devolution of responsibility
The newly-elected government of 1994 attempted to “transform [a] broken-down and
corrupted system of separate and unequal education provision” (Beckmann, 2002: 157). This
transformation included the healing of the divisions of the past, laying the foundations for a
democratic and open society, improving the quality of life, and building a united and
democratic South Africa (Beckmann, 2002). The South African Schools Act (1996) provides
for the vesting of the governance of the school in the SGB and the professional management
in the principal and his or her team of subordinate managers under the authority of the
provincial head of education, increasing the autonomy and accountability of schools. The
principal, being the educational leader of the school, is responsible for facilitating
implementation that is “shared and supported by the school community” (Fullan, 2007: 294).
Including the principal in the curriculum design process or in the decision about amendments
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to the curriculum, may assist to shed light on the difficulties of changing school culture
(Fullan, 2007). Sammons (cited in Fullan 2007) says that she knows of no successful
implementation where both the primary and secondary leadership were not open and involved
in the process of change. Adapting this statement to South Africa: the principal and the HoDs
have to be involved in the change process in order for it to be successful. By delegating some
of his or her responsibilities to the HoDs, the principal is devolving the responsibilities of
curriculum changes and implementation that is essential for effective and efficient
administration and management (Beckmann, 2002). The department head can then shape
teachers’ attitudes towards curriculum changes by giving them the opportunity to express
their concerns about these changes (McLaughlin and Talbert cited in Fullan, 2007)
It is important that teachers receive good pre-service training, which provides knowledge for
effective practice, and in-service professional development in order to construct a solid
professional identity as well as the skill to deal with changes (Christie, 1996). Certain
knowledge constructs that are necessary for good teaching were identified by Pam Christie
(1996):

Subject content knowledge

Pedagogic content knowledge; knowledge about how to teach a particular subject

A repertoire of pedagogical skills that teachers are able to use or adapt

Knowledge of assessment

Knowledge of how students learn and different theories of learning

Knowledge of educational aims and purposes

Knowledge of educational contexts
In the South African context we can also add knowledge of (Christie, 1996):

Working with cultural and linguistic diversity

Teaching students at different educational levels in the same classroom
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
Dealing with the complexity of HIV and AIDS in the classroom

Understanding the challenge of recognition and redistribution in the complex South
African context
If teachers have this knowledge it can assist the HoDs to facilitate curriculum changes more
effectively and efficiently.
3.3 Resistance to change
Change can have an immense effect on an individual especially if it is in contrast to his or her
own belief system (see par. 2.3) causing great resistance to change. Regrettably, “no change
occurs without sacrifice and adjustment” (Van der Merwe, 2005).
The cause for resistance to change can be divided into two categories: psychological reasons
and organisational reasons (adapted from Van der Merwe, 2005).
Psychological reasons

Loss of the familiar and reliable

Loss of personal choice and values

Loss of authority

Not understanding the reasons for change

Lack of skills and motivation
Organisational reasons

Lack of leadership skills

Lack of effective management skills

Failure to recognise the social aspect of work
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
Inappropriate working procedures

Informal grouping (cliques)

Preference for tradition
The devolution of authority with regard to curriculum changes makes it the HoD’s
responsibility to ensure that these psychological and organisational reasons affect the process
of change as little as possible. The HoD can help a teacher adjust to the new way of doing
things by systematically breaking down the barriers built up.
3.4 Curriculum changes in South Africa and other countries
South Africa has had a range of experiences when it comes to curriculum changes. However,
Italy, China, Argentina, and Botswana have also had unique experiences with regard to
changes brought to the curriculum. I would like to present some of the changes that took
place in South Africa, but also in other countries to convey the commonalities of curriculum
changes.
3.4.1 The case of South Africa
Since 1994, education in South Africa has experienced many changes, especially legislative,
administrative, and curricular in nature (Gilmour & Soudien, 2008). One of these changes
was the introduction of a set of measures to redress the teacher-pupil ratio inherited from
apartheid and the redeployment of teachers. Another big effort to change the result of
apartheid was the introduction of C2005 in 1997 and the Revised National Curriculum
Statement (RNCS) in 2002, which aimed to reform the divisions created by apartheid’s
curriculum (Gilmour & Soudien, 2008). There have been some positive outcomes of both
these curriculums, specifically the increased pass rate of matriculants from 47,4 % in 1997 to
73,3 % in 2003. However, the cause of these increases cannot be pin-pointed directly.
The problems experienced with C2005 and the RNCS might have been due to the neglect of
managerial matters of schooling, teachers, and textbooks; there is a general lack of
concentrated and co-ordinated management. Another problem experienced is the failure of
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the curriculums to recognise the social landscape inherited from apartheid, amplifying the
poor and radicalised society; contradicting the curriculums’ aim to move “away from a racist,
apartheid, rote learning model of learning and teaching to a liberating, nation-building and
learner centred outcomes-based one” (Gilmour & Soudien, 2008). After extensive critique,
the opaqueness of the policy was recognised and it was admitted that C2005 was
inappropriate for the country and it might be responsible for the current challenges faced by
the country and education system. The building of a new curriculum and the success thereof
will rely on the teachers’ strengths and weaknesses, which are at the grassroots of
implementation.
3.4.2 Italy
The passion for educational reform in Italy was overtaken by the concern for dismantling
structures symbolising social inequalities and differentiation (Polesel, 2006). The changes
brought about in Italy during the past forty years did not guarantee equal access to higher
education for all social groups due to the symbolic nature of policies. The translation of
family privilege into education privilege (Polesel, 2006) is still a major cause of students
leaving school early, confirming that the change in educational policies does not understand
the processes of social reproduction in Italy. Italy’s educational reform is also very silent on
the improved training of teachers as emphasised by the European Union.
3.4.3 China, Shanghai
Curriculum change is an attempt to ease the pressure when social transformation takes place
as in China, and South Africa post-1994. A way to address this is to make use of a three-tier
state approach (Luo, 2011). This approach makes it possible for the education authority to
delegate these changes more effectively, thus improving implementation. Luo explains how
this three-tier state approach was used in China’s curriculum reform. The Ministry of
Education was responsible for the planning of the “basic education curriculum, establishing
the management policy, stipulating the categories and learning hours, and setting curriculum
standards and evaluation process” (Luo, 2011: 44). The regional authorities were
“responsible for implementation of the plans devised by the state, development of regional
curriculums, reposting to the Ministry of Education, and the organisation and implementation
of the reform” (Luo, 2011: 44). The schools may choose the appropriate curricula to “suit the
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specific needs of the local society, economic development, school tradition, and interests of
their students” (Luo, 2011: 44).
South Africa also makes use of a three-tier state approach, however, due to the major
inherited and created inequalities we should, in my opinion, have more emphasis on specific
planning to cater for our needs within the community, especially at lower levels..
3.4.4 Argentina
Like South Africa, Argentina also went through political turmoil. They restructured the state,
which included education. This reform focused on improving the quality of education
research and effective regulation of the education system; including decentralisation of
secondary schools and the retraining of educators in their specialist subjects. It also included
creating a new structure for basic education complying with the World Bank’s philosophy of
free basic education for all; modernising administration of provincial education departments;
creating new procedures for curriculum design; designing assessment and evaluation levels
for students; and improving school management. All these changes can be seen as an
adaptation to the demands of the international economic competition; thus, schools are
becoming more market driven. These changes are driven by the World Bank which has
assumed leadership in international educational development, making them the “main expert”
when it comes to educational reform (Gorostiaga, Pini, Donin, & Ginsburg: 120).
3.4.5 Botswana
“Botswana’s Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) of 1994 represents the country’s
response to globalisation. It purports to produce the self-programmable learner for an
economy undergoing rapid transformation” (Tabulawa, 2009: 87).
There has been an unprecedented attempt to change education to fit the agenda of
globalisation in Botswana. The idea of the RNPE is to change the students and teach them
skills such as innovativeness, critical thinking, problem-solving, believed necessary by
today’s globalised nations. There is a call for a multi-skilled, adaptable, and flexible
workforce (Tabulawa, 2009) due to constant technological changes and intense competition
in global markets. It is the duty of the education system to produce this workforce engaging
in lifelong education (Tabulawa, 2009). When the economy is not doing as well as expected,
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it is easier for the government to blame a failing education system than to realise that a gap
has been created and more low-level workers are required for labour-intensive work
(Tabulawa, 2009).
3.5 Lessons learned through curriculum changes
The policy makers of reforming post-apartheid education failed to look at other countries
with similar situations to South Africa post-1994 and chose to borrow from other Western
and international policies. A policy was developed claiming that its main concern was
efficiency, redress and equity (De Clercq, 1997). The feasibility in an unbalanced social
landscape was ignored due to the lack of understanding of what was required in developing
an education policy for post-apartheid South Africa where the education landscape was jampacked with inequalities and deficiencies of resources. There was also a lack of experience in
developing fitting policies for the unique situation in South Africa. These post-apartheid
“policy reforms [did] not assist in mobilizing and building the capacity of educationalists and
disadvantaged communities to challenge and redress the power relations” (De Clercq, 1997:
136), making this a failed symbolic policy. The most important thing about education is that
it does not function in isolation; it is influenced by social, political, and economic situations
(Mevorach & Ezer, 2010).
Mevorach and Ezer (2010) give reasons why educational change can be experienced as
difficult:

The rationale for change is poorly conceptualised or not clearly demonstrated

The change is too broad and ambitious, so that teachers have to work on too many
fronts

There is no long-term commitment to the change to carry people through their
anxiety, frustration and despair

Key staff who can contribute to the change are not committed
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
Leaders are either too controlling or too ineffectual, or they cash in on the early
success of the innovation and move on to other things

The change is carried out in isolation and gets undermined by other unchanged
structure

Conversely, the change may be poorly coordinated and engulfed by a tidal wave of
parallel changes, to the point that teachers are unable to focus their efforts.
There are several lessons that we can learn from past experiences when it comes to policy
change and implementation (Christie, 2008):

Policy implementation IS extremely difficult to achieve. It is important for policy
developers and implementers to anticipate these difficulties by looking at examples
from the past.

Policy change and implementation depend on teacher ability and motivation. It is
important to persuade people to support new policies but it is more difficult than just
training them.

It is important to use both pressure and support. Teachers must be pressured by policy
developers and implementers to change their beliefs and core activities, but support is
important to build motivation by focusing on what is required to change the beliefs
and values of people.

Change occurs at the lowest level, and teachers need to be convinced that the new
policy will be beneficial and more productive than the previous one, helping to relax
the resistance to change due to personal and professional beliefs.

It is important to remember that policy change and implementation must consist of
negotiation and bargaining to make the process more acceptable to teachers. The
change and implementation must be a process of participation and negotiation.
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During Berryhill, Linney, & Fromewick’s study, their respondents made some suggestions
regarding the development and implementation of policies (2009):

Intervention for the reduction of stress

Making changes “for teachers rather than in teachers”

Increase interaction between teachers and policy developers

Professional development of teachers

Teacher education as well as the education of younger minds cannot be separated
from the social, political, and economic happenings of the world.
3.6 Conclusion
The experiences of HoDs during curriculum changes are of great importance and the lessons
learned through the process can be invaluable for future reference. It is important that HoDs
take note of how they persuade, through motivation, the teachers in their departments to be
open to these changes. Development of a professional identity is essential in dealing with the
psychological as well as the organisational resistance to change. I would believe that the key
to the successful management of change is to know and understand the knowledge constructs
involved in good teaching. This allows the HoD to successfully lead his or her teachers
towards the effective and efficient implementation of curriculums.
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Chapter 4
Research design
4.1 Introduction
The primary aim of research is to answer a question emanating from a specific problem.
According to Creswell (2008) “research is a process of steps used to collect and analyse
information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue. Research consists of three
[fundamental] steps: 1) pose a question, 2) collect data to answer the question, and 3) present
the answer to the question” (Creswell, 2008: 3). The question I have posed relates to the
responses of HoDs to curriculum changes. To answer this question, I used a narrative design
within a qualitative framework by conducting focus group interviews and a semi-structured
interview. This allowed me to present the answer through the views of HoDs.
There are three reasons according to Creswell (2008) why we do research. We want to add to
our knowledge, improve our practice and research can inform policy debates. With this
research I aimed to inform the policy debate with regard to curriculum change and how it
affects the middle management of a school.
4.2 Qualitative research
To fully understand what makes qualitative research suitable to this research it must be
compared to quantitative research. The quantitative researcher directs the research by setting
narrow questions for the participants and relies heavily on statistics to give him or her results.
In contrast, the qualitative researcher is subjected to the views of the participants to guide the
research study and makes use of inductive practices to reach conclusions about the set
question (Creswell, 2008). If one wants to understand how HoDs responded to curriculum
changes, qualitative research will be ideal as the methodology lends itself to allow
interpretations of the participants’ views and not simply reducing their views to numbers and
percentages. Qualitative research aims to understand and interpret the narratives of the
participants by giving them a voice which otherwise would not be heard. It creates an
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opportunity not only to look at the data and reach a conclusion, but also to understand why
the data exists and how it will influence the way forward. By using the evidence from data
and literature, the aim is to explain what the understanding and the interpretation of a certain
phenomenon is (Henning, Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010).
In this research my aim was to understand how HoDs reacted to curriculum changes and why
they acted in that manner. To better understand the why, I conducted focus group interviews
with HoDs from the Lady Frere district in the Eastern Cape to examine how they interpret
changes in the curriculum and how it affects their reality.
4.2.1 Characteristics of qualitative research
If we look at the historical development of qualitative research, we find that there was a
continuous effort to understand, clarify, and identify the underlying nature of people’s actions
and their interactions with their environment. The historical development of qualitative
research has moulded it into what we recognise today as qualitative research:

Listening to the views of participants

Asking open, general questions while collecting data in a natural environment

Campaigning for change (Creswell, 2008)
Creswell (2008) identified six main characteristics of qualitative research:
1. Identifying the research problem: when conducting qualitative research, the variables
are unknown and it is the researcher’s job to explore the phenomenon to identify the
variables. By reading literature you might get an idea of what the nature of the
phenomenon is, but only after interaction with the participants, will you better your
understanding and create knowledge, or add to the knowledge of that specific
phenomenon.
2. Reviewing the literature: the literature reviewed prior to the study is not the only
factor that guides the direction of the study, but it does assist with identifying the
research problem and justifying the need for the study of the particular phenomenon.
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The interview questions are also not born out of the literature only, as is the case with
quantitative research. The participants’ views are the bulk of the study and play a
major role in the direction and the outcome of the study.
3. Specifying a purpose: the purpose of a qualitative study is broad and general. This
study seeks to understand how HoDs experienced and managed curriculum changes.
The theoretical frameworks guide the purpose more specifically: seeking to
understand how HoDs’ experiences of curriculum changes are linked to the
characteristics of change, and how they are managing resistance to change. In
qualitative research the researcher is always seeking to understand the experiences of
his or her participants.
4. Collecting data: when it comes to the collecting of qualitative data, the researcher
makes use of several methods. These methods can be data in the form of words or
images. The collection also takes place in small quantities, by interviewing only a
small number of people. Assumptions are deduced from transcribed data. The
collection process continues until the data is saturated, and then only will the
researcher stop collecting data.
5. Analysing and interpreting data: raw data was transcribed into text. The researcher
divided the text into meaningful segments that form parts of the phenomenon. These
segments or categories were interpreted and linked to existing research. What makes
qualitative research even more unique and suitable for my research, is that the
researcher is able to associate personal reflections with the lessons learned during the
data collection. Data is not converted into numbers which are crunched to prove or
refute a hypothesis, but rather compiled into a meaningful depiction of the
phenomenon underpinned by other research studies exploring the same or similar
phenomenon.
6. Reporting and evaluating research: due to the nature of qualitative research, the
reporting also tends to be subjective with a flexible format as to how the reporting
takes place. The aim of the report must be to have sufficient data to convince the
reader that it is a true and realistic account of the phenomenon.
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4.2.2 Qualitative research designs
The nature of qualitative research lends itself to a multitude of designs, standing on their own
or combined with quantitative designs. When doing qualitative research you make use of the
three characteristics of research: collecting data, analysing and interpreting data, and
reporting and evaluating. For the purpose of this study I will only make use of a qualitative
design approach. There are, among others, three designs that can be used for a qualitative
approach: grounded theory, ethnographic, and narrative.
Grounded theory design
Grounded theory is a design that aims to explain the phenomenon it seeks to study. It is
mostly used when there is no other theory that can be associated with the phenomenon. The
research therefore creates a theory to explain the phenomenon. This process is linked with
repetitive data collection and analysis. (Creswell, 2008)
Ethnographic design
Ethnography is used when a researcher wants to describe the cultural relationships of a
certain group. This type of research is mostly associated with prolonged fieldwork where the
researcher submerges him- or herself in the cultural community. (Creswell, 2008)
Narrative design
For the purpose of this study I used a narrative design. Before I can say why I employed this
design, it is important first to communicate what narrative design is and how it fits in with
qualitative research. The most important and distinctive part of narrative design is that it
describes the experiences of participants about real life situations. This research utilises
stories or narratives from an individual’s life to explain a certain phenomenon. I was looking
for “personal experiences in [an] actual school setting [and] narrative research offer[s]
practical, specific insights” (Creswell, 2008: 512). This method “assumes that people
construct their realities through narrating their stories” (Marshall, 2011). I thus collected and
analysed the HoDs’ stories about how they experienced and managed curriculum changes.
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The use of certain methods (the exposure to newspaper articles - see par. 4.3.5) creates a
unique environment for reliving the experience, making data collection much more authentic.
The uniqueness of a narrative framework permits the handing down to future generations of
the lessons learnt during a specific period and the answering of social questions about certain
life experiences. The focus of this research was on how HoDs managed these curriculum
changes, that is the actions they took and what their experiences were. A narrative framework
“highlights the uniqueness of each human action [or event (such as curriculum changes)],
organising these events into a meaningful whole, and connecting and seeing the
consequences of actions and events over time” (Chase, 2005). A narrative framework will
give a voice to those who have none.
4.2.3 Ensuring trustworthiness and credibility
As described in chapter one (par. 1.9), qualitative research sets out to crystallise the data
collected rather than to triangulate it with other sources to show the credibility and
trustworthiness thereof. However, I made use of focus group interviews, semi-structured
interviews and document collection to make my data more believable and trustworthy. It is
argued by Polkinghorne (cited in Webster & Mertova, 2007) that the validity of a narrative is
linked to the importance of the analysis and the reliability and trustworthiness of the data
collected and not the amount collected.
The scope of my research ended up being smaller than I expected due to the scarcity of
participants (par. 4.3.1), however, it still gave me enough data to make a meaningful
conclusion regarding the phenomenon I sought to investigate. To ensure the trustworthiness
and credibility of my research, I ensured that my findings where well-grounded in the
literature and supported by the data that I did collect (Webster & Mertova, 2007). During
qualitative research, and more specifically narrative inquiry, humans are used as instruments
and the data collected are reports of experiences. To achieve consistency (linked to the
reliability of the data) with reports of experiences can become quite tedious as the account of
an event will depend on the external factors at the time the account was recorded; making
reliability rather difficult to achieve. This is why it is important for a researcher to ensure that
there is access to the data collected and that it is accurate (Webster & Mertova, 2007)
according to the audience.
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Nonetheless, I did try to achieve as much crystallisation as possible, by creating three
different opportunities to collect data: focus groups, semi-structured interviews, and
document analysis. Within these three types of data it was evident that there was some
coherence regarding the themes that were visible throughout.
4.3 Methodology
When conducting qualitative research there is a variety of methods one can use to collect
data. However, the sample chosen is just as important as the method chosen to collect data. I
chose to do a narrative inquiry into how HoDs manage and experience curriculum changes,
and I chose to do it through conducting focus group interviews, a semi-structured interview
and analysis of the documents collected. This method would not only ensure that I got a
bigger picture of the management but would also ensure that my data collected and the
findings presented were trustworthy and credible.
4.3.1 Sampling
With a qualitative study, the researcher is always trying to “develop an in-depth exploration
of a central phenomenon... [by] purposefully or intentionally select[ing] individuals and
sites... that can best help [him or her] understand the central phenomenon” (Creswell, 2008:
213). I selected individuals who comply with the criteria for a suitable participant: HoDs of
schools in the Lady Frere district of the Eastern Cape Department of Education. This allowed
me to learn about and understand the phenomenon under investigation (Creswell, 2008). Due
to the nature of the Eastern Cape’s employment situation, not all schools had HoDs, but made
use of phase or subject heads in their schools. I refer to these phase or subject heads as HoDs,
as they are heads of their specific phases or subjects.
There are several ways to choose individuals that can provide information on the
phenomenon being studied, but it is important to choose the correct technique to identify
these individuals. Due to the nature of my data collection, I made use of a number of
sampling techniques in an effort to choose the best individuals for the research. For the focus
group interviews, I used a homogeneous sampling technique. This technique allowed me to
sample “individuals... based on membership in a subgroup that has defining characteristics”
(Creswell, 2008: 216). The subgroup I focused on was the HoDs who are heads of academic
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departments in their schools. Each subgroup belongs to a community; in this case, the
community I focused on was the schools of the Lady Frere district of the Eastern Cape
Department of Education. I conveniently selected schools on the basis that there were HoDs
within these schools and they were situated close to me. The head of that department was
selected as an individual being studied from that specific school, and not as part of the school
as an organisation.
The sample size has significant influence on the findings of a study. During a qualitative
study a researcher aims to “provide an in-depth picture [of the phenomenon which]
diminishes with the addition of each new individual” (Creswell, 2008: 217). Each school had
three HoDs participating. There were two focus groups where I collected audio data. Two
other focus group sessions were planned, but due to constant rescheduling and participants
not showing up, they were cancelled.
The second stage of data collection, the semi-structured interview, made it possible to utilise
opportunistic sampling where the sample becomes known during the investigation. This
allowed me to “take advantage of unfolding events [during the focus group interviews] that
will help answer the research question” satisfactorily (Creswell, 2008: 216). When I collected
biographical details of the participants with the help of the consent from, they had the
opportunity to indicate if they would be available for further interviews. There were several
potential candidates, but when contacted for further interviews, they declined due to
unforeseen circumstances. By complying with ethical considerations, I could not force any
person to participate in my research. Nonetheless, my willing candidate was able to give me
great insight into the identified themes of the focus group interviews.
The sample for the document collection and analysis stage consisted of the same sample used
for the semi-structured interview.
By making use of these sampling techniques, depth was added to my study, which allowed
me to understand how these HoDs responded and managed the changes in the curriculum.
4.3.2 HoDs as data instruments
Human beings are good sources of information, especially when it comes to our experiences
of certain events. We have the ability to express our own views and feelings about certain
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things in many different ways, including the social media. The media has perfected the way
to obtain information from us about our daily lives and our opinions without us even realising
it. When this mass expression of attitudes and beliefs develops a trend, it unites our common
views about a particular event (Henning, et al., 2010).
When interviewing people about a specific event we start to notice commonalities and
identify certain patterns and trends applicable to certain situations. The idea of using human
participants (HoDs of schools) is “to bring our attention to what [these] individuals think, feel
Figure 4.1: Communication during curriculum changes
and do and what they have to say about it in an interview [by] giving [me] their subjective
reality” (Henning, Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010: 52). The focus on HoDs, also known as
Middle Management (MM), is due to their peculiar situation. A school functions mainly as a
bureaucratic organization due to the nature of dividing responsibility (Lunenburg & Ornstein,
2008) where there are two or more important role players: the strategic apex (principal and
the senior management team) and the operational core (the teachers). Figure 4.1 above
illustrates how the communication between HoDs, the strategic apex, and the operational core
takes place within the area of curriculum changes. Communication takes place vertically
(VC) between the strategic apex and the HoDs, as well as horizontally (HC) between the
HoD (who assumes the role of a manager and a teacher) and the other teachers within the
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department. HoDs themselves are still teachers in that specific subject, making them part of
the operational core, but they have to report to the strategic apex and relay their policy
decisions to the operational core (Hoy & Miskel, 2001).
4.3.3 Introduction to sample
I made use of two schools within the Lady Frere district of the Eastern Cape. Both these
schools are situated in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape with very little access to the
services enjoyed by schools closer to the cities.
School 1 is a primary school consisting of approximately 500 learners from grade 1 to grade
7. The participants from this school teach only primary school children of varying grades.
The interview took place during school hours, as this was the only agreeable time for them.
The time of the interview caused interference with regard to focusing on the interview itself,
causing a stressed and hurried environment with short answers and not much elaboration on
detail.
School 2 is a combined primary and high school consisting of approximately 700 learners.
The participants teach various grades from the foundation phase to the FET phase. The
interview took place after hours, as this was the only agreeable time for them. This resulted in
a more relaxed environment and more elaborate responses to questions.
4.3.4 Data collection
The aim of the research was to answer a question arising from a problem as stated in par. 4.2.
By collecting and analysing data you try to find a pattern in the conversations to find out the
reason why a phenomenon exists. “In [a] qualitative study... we want to find out what actions
of the people in the setting are, what they think and maybe also what they feel” (Henning,
Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010: 6). The researcher is the main instrument during data collection
making the data collection and processing very subjective in nature because a qualitative
researcher allows for connecting his or her personal experiences to the research.
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There are several methods of collecting data for a qualitative study (Creswell, 2008):
1. Observation: it is a first-hand experience where the researcher spends time in the field
observing the participants by taking field notes and using pictures/drawings
2.
Interviews and questionnaires: the researcher engages with one or more of the
participants by asking them a set of predetermined open-ended questions while
recording their answers. (Creswell, 2008)
3. Documents: documents can be a very useful tool for the researcher, especially to
verify data collected during observations or interviews. These documents can include
newspapers, minutes, personal journals, letters, etc. (Creswell, 2008)
4. Audio-visual materials: these are images or sound that the researcher collects to
enhance his or her understanding about a certain phenomenon. (Creswell, 2008)
For the purpose of this study I made use of interviews to collect the raw data and documents
to assist with the crystallisation of data.
4.3.5 Interviews
Interviews are commonly used in creating field texts for narrative research. “The way the
interviewer acts, questions, and responds in an interview shapes the relationship and therefore
the ways participants respond and give accounts of their experience” (Clandinin & Connelly,
2000: 110). The place and the time also have an effect on the direction of the interview.
Current events, such as the state of the education system, add context to the narrative
(Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), possibly influencing how the HoDs responded to the
interviews. I chose to make use of the following interview types:
4.3.5.1 Focus group interviews
This type of interview method has the potential to give me rich data where the participants
build on one another’s ideas. The purpose of the focus group interviews was to determine the
responses of the HoDs to curriculum changes since 2005. This data gathering technique
allows for the refreshing of memories of when changes happened, providing me with rich
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data responses (Cohen, Lawrence, & Morrison, 2005). The experiences HoDs had when
change occurred and more so how these experiences informed their reaction towards the
management and motivation of themselves and their staff was of great interest to me.
These focus group interviews allowed me to develop an understanding of HoDs’ responses to
the curriculum changes since 2005 and to identify specific key ideas, which would be
transferred to the semi-structured interviews for further probing and exploration (Vaughn,
Schumann, & Sinagub, 1996). There were two groups of three HoDs each from selected
schools within the Lady Frere and Queenstown districts of the Eastern Cape Department of
Education.
I believe that the media has a very prominent influence by adding context to our
interpretation of our surroundings. Therefore, during the focus group interviews, I exposed
the participants to several newspaper clippings about changes in the curriculum. During the
interviews I asked the participants to express their feelings, their emotions, and why they felt
like that.
I compiled these newspaper headings (see appendix 2) into a presentation which was
displayed to participants during the focus group interview. With each heading I asked the
participants what their interpretation of the heading was. Some participants (especially
School 2) had many things to say about those specific headings. However, there were
participants that were not willing to participate. It may have been due to their unfamiliarity
with me and mistrust of my intentions. To overcome that, I asked them directly for some kind
of response, unfortunately not always very successfully. The participants had control over the
interview at school 1. Nonetheless, those that had much to say were even more stimulated by
the lack of response from the others, and added more insight to their interpretations of the
newspaper headings. It was definitely a case of the interview being shaped by the
participants’ interest or lack thereof (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000).
4.3.5.2 Semi-structured interviews
From the focus group interview, I selected a willing participant for my second stage of data
collection: the semi-structured interview (see appendix 3 for list of questions). The semistructured interview allowed me to engage more with a participant who had a rich experience
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with curriculum changes and the management thereof (Maree, 2007). I chose this candidate
because of her experience with curriculum changes and her obvious attitude towards handling
changes: she displayed knowledge of changes and displayed the willingness to change even
though she had to do so many times. It was slightly problematic having only one participant
for this leg of my data collection. The unfortunate story is that none of School 1’s participants
was willing to further participate in the research. Their reasons were 1) that they felt they
could not contribute more to the study as they did not know enough; 2) or that their
contribution was not valuable; 3) or excessive workload; 4) or some provided false contact
information. This might seem problematic for the trustworthiness and credibility of the
research, but it is the accuracy and the accessibility of the data which contribute towards
ensuring the trustworthiness and the credibility of the research (par. 4.3.2).
It was, unfortunately, very problematic to find more than one willing participant to take part
in the semi-structured interview. The unwilling participants made excuses such as “not
knowing enough.” I attempted to explain to the possible participants that I wanted their
experiences and there is no right or wrong. However, this did not convince them to
participate.
4.3.6 Documents
The final stage of data collection was the gathering of HoD documents in an effort to verify
what my participants had said during the interview phases and so improve the crystallisation
of the data. I was expecting to receive schedules, minutes of meetings, notices, or letters sent
out to teachers, parents, or students. Instead I received moderation tools and feedback letters
to teachers. The documents I received included the following (no particular order):

Document 1: IQMS Implementation Quarterly Report (20 August 2011)

Document 2: Feedback to a teacher (2 August 2011)

Document 3: Feedback to a teacher (no date)

Document 4: Feedback to a teacher (22 June 2011)

Document 5: Moderation Tool (15 March)
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
Document 6: School Moderation Tool (20 March 2012)
These documents and the lack of expected documents can say much about what is not seen
here. Document collection can become a selective process where the researcher decides
which documents to collect and how they are collected (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). I chose
to request from the participant any documents she had that would contribute to the
crystallisation of her responses. This allowed the HoD to be selective in her own process and
only provide me with certain documents she deemed fit. However, it was evident that very
little or no recording of proceedings of meetings had been done or that no meetings between
the HoD and the teachers ever took place. Still, these documents were relevant to the
crystallisation process of the data collection, as they confirmed what the participant said she
did with the teachers in her department.
4.3.7 Data processing and analysis
In a qualitative design, the analysis of data consists of describing the information gathered
and developing themes within the data (Creswell, 2008). By making use of a narrative design,
I wanted “to analyse the [data gathered during the focus group interviews and the semistructured interviews] by identifying themes or categories of information” (Creswell, 2008).
For the data collection I used three ways of data collection to ensure clarity of the data. Not
only is it important to use more than one data collection method, but the researcher also needs
to employ more than one data analysis strategy. By using different methods to approach the
data, you are looking at it from different viewpoints ensuring that you understand the true
meaning behind the data (Henning, Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010).
4.3.7.1 Preparation for data analysis
Before the analysis began, I transcribed the audio data collected. The first step was to work
through it manually to identify similar utterances made by both focus groups. All of these
utterances were divided into colour-coded meaningful categories. The method of open coding
enabled me to get a global picture of the stories being told by the participants. Due to the
inductive nature of open coding, themes were selected according to what the data meant to
me as researcher (Henning, Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010). “The identification of themes
provides the complexity of a story and adds depth to the insight about understanding
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individual experiences” (Creswell, 2008: 521). When I turned my focus to the semistructured interviews I made use of priori coding; I sorted my data into pre-set categories
identified during the analysis of the focus group interviews.
4.3.7.2 Analysing qualitative data
The data analysis was a three step process where each set of data was analysed according to
its content and discourse as demonstrated by figure 4.2. It is important to use more than one
data analysis technique to ensure that there is more clarity in the interpretation of the data.
Content analysis
It is a systematic approach aimed at identifying patterns in the message content (Maree,
2007), e.g. words and concepts used by the HoDs to describe a certain process within the text
and interpreting them. These words or utterances can have a multitude of meanings which has
to be found within the text. Content analysis allows for a simplistic analysis of data even
though these utterances from the participants are seldom simplistic and require more complex
analysis procedures to illustrate the rationalisation of the reality of the participant (Henning,
Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010).
Discourse analysis
The discourse analysis helped me to find deeper meaning in what the participants were
actually trying to communicate. When you make use of this kind of analysis, you are looking
for the symbolic use of language and clues that indicate how participants interpret their
reality, allowing you to see a “broader social and historical context and the conventions
within which the text has been created and the way in which it has been created” (Henning,
Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010: 46). By identifying discourse markers and looking for reoccurrences of the same marker you can see when a dominant discourse occurs (Henning,
Van Rensburg, & Smit, 2010). It makes use of language as its platform for analysis, in order
to “move to understanding social action and the human condition” (Henning, Van Rensburg,
& Smit, 2010: 122).
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4.3.7.3 Data interpretation
Interpretation of your data means taking a step back and forming a subjective opinion about
the phenomenon. This study made use of two theoretical frameworks to inform and assist the
analyses of the data.
Theoretical framework 1: the effects of implementation characteristics of change of on HoD
As described in par. 2.4, implementation is a very dynamic process with many things
influencing its outcome. There are nine factors that can have an effect on the success of
curriculum changes if not handled correctly. I described them briefly in paragraph 2.4.3.
They are: need, clarity, complexity, quality, practicality, the district, the community, the
principal, the teacher and the government and other agencies. During the analysis of my data,
it became very evident that these nine characteristics play a significant role during the
implementation process. The lack of clarity was quite apparent, especially where false clarity
existed. Another subject was the importance of quality to the HoDs. For them it was more
important that quality education must be produced rather than concerning themselves about
the changes. Paragraph 5.5.1 discusses the analysis of the data with regard to the
characteristics of change and the effects it has on HoDs and their management.
Theoretical framework 2: the management of changes
Not only is it important to identify the factors that are affecting the outcome of a curriculum
change, but also to look at how these changes were managed. For me it was important to
identify how the HoDs managed these curriculum changes concerning motivation of self, and
of teachers, and the assistance to teachers. I made use of a model for managing the change
process systematically (Van der Merwe, 2005). Van der Merwe (2005) talks about five
essential steps to ensure the successful management of the change process. These steps entail
1) diagnosis of the problem, 2) development of alternatives and selection of the best
intervention, 3) limiting the conditions of change, 4) implementation, and 5) evaluation of
change (Van der Merwe 2005). These steps allowed me to identify how HoDs managed the
changes in the curriculum. However, for change to be successful, the resistance to change has
to be dealt with as well. As pointed out in par. 3.3, resistance can be due to not understanding
why change takes place. Van der Merwe (2005) also talks about lack of skills and motivation
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as well as the loss of familiarity and reliability and the preference for tradition rather than
experience.
These theoretical frameworks assisted me in making sense of the themes that were identified
during the focus group interviews. These themes are:

Quality of education

Confusion

Traditional ways of teaching (pre-1994)
These will be discussed in more detail in chapter 5, paragraphs 5.3.1, 5.3.2, and 5.3.3.
4.4 The role of the researcher
The role of the researcher is very important, contrary to quantitative research which makes
use of surveys as data collection instruments, the researcher him- or herself is the data
collection instrument in qualitative studies. Not only do we collect human experiences
informed by their own realities, but the researcher also analyses this data while being
influenced by his or her experiences of the phenomenon. Grumet (cited in Webster &
Mertova, 2007) describes the researcher as a detective: it is the responsibility of the
researcher not only to describe what he or she has read and seen, but also to observe during
the course of the data collection process. It is the researcher’s own stories, attitudes, choices,
and values that become visible in the presentation of the findings (Webster & Mertova,
2007).
Before I could even think of starting to collect data, I had to broaden my understanding of the
phenomenon I had chosen through conducting a literature study. Armed with a better
understanding of why the phenomenon exists, it was possible for me to go into the field to
collect data on it. By applying my knowledge of the phenomenon, I deduced major themes
from the data that I represented as my findings (see Chapter 5). The data presents certain
themes, but it was my understanding of those themes that informed the analysis thereof. The
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subjective nature of qualitative studies allowed me to reconstruct the stories of my
experiences to support my understanding of the phenomenon with the data collected.
4.5 Ethical considerations
We do not do research in a vacuum. We make use of humans with emotions and rights during
the process. Thus it is very important to ensure that the correct steps are taken to ensure that
the participants’ rights are protected and that no emotional or physical harm is incurred
during the research process. The following issues should be discussed when doing research
(Webster & Mertova, 2007)

Informed consent

Privacy and confidentiality

Honesty and trust
My research into HoDs’ experiences and management of change did not involve the
collection of sensitive data, and they were not in danger of developing psychological damage.
However, it was my responsibility to ensure that all my participants were aware of their rights
during the procedures and that it was voluntary. To ensure this, I gave each of them an
information letter stating what the research was about and what their rights were during the
process. Before any recordings started, I explained to the participants that this was voluntary
and that they could stop proceedings at any time. For the semi-structured interview, the
participants of the focus group from one school all refused to participate, which unfortunately
impeded my data, but not to the extent that I could not analyse it at all. To ensure the privacy
and confidentiality of the participants, I broadly described the schools as situated in the Lady
Frere District of the Eastern Cape and assigned those codes: School 1 (S1) and School 2 (2).
Every teacher had a code: T1, T2 etc. Thus a teacher from school 1 would be referenced as
S1T2. For the semi-structured interview I assigned a pseudonym to the participant: Anna.
This protected their anonymity. The documents I collected were not fully redacted; I removed
all references to teachers’ names and schools. I ensured honesty and trust through the use of
digital recordings of the all the interviews.
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These steps ensured that there would be no information about the participants as their
anonymity was protected and the data I collected was accurate.
4.6 Conclusion
This chapter has explained the central importance of using a narrative design within a
qualitative framework to give a voice to those who have none. The purpose was to
demonstrate the importance of HoDs as data instruments to get an understanding of their
experiences of curriculum changes. The use of focus groups and a semi-structured interview
allowed for crystallisation of data collected. The following chapter will deal in greater detail
with the data that was collected and my interpretation thereof. By utilising a narrative design,
it gave me the opportunity to give a voice to those who have none.
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Chapter 5
Data presentation and interpretation
5.1 Introduction
When one analyses data it is to make sense of what was collected during the data collection
phase. By approaching the data through an interpretivist paradigm, it enabled me to explore
how HoDs’ actions were informed by their experiences. It allowed me to identify three
categories from the focus group interviews:

Confusion about changes

Traditional methods of teaching

Quality of education
These categories informed my semi-structured interview where I directly approached the
HoD about her experiences and her management of curriculum changes. Moving into the
interpretation of the analysis, I aimed to answer my research question on how HoDs had
responded to and managed curriculum change since 2005, by dividing the section into two
parts:

Responses of HoDs

Management of HoDs
All research is limited in one way or another, but this creates an opportunity for other
researchers to explore the new gaps created.
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5.2 Approaching the data
An aim of qualitative research is to understand why your participants react to a certain
phenomenon in a certain manner. By exploring the experiences of HoDs during curriculum
changes, one can interpret the reality within which they function. People construct their
knowledge, their truths, about the world through the experiences they have of specific
phenomena. Through the interpretation of those knowledge constructs, one can see the
creation of reality within those experiences. By making use of an interpretivist paradigm, I
was able to analyse the data to “understand social reality as [HoDs] see it and to demonstrate
how views shape the action they take within reality” (Cohen, Lawrence, & Morrison, 2005:
22).
I conducted two focus group interviews, each consisting of three HoDs. SCHOOL 1 is a
primary school only whereas SCHOOL 2 is a primary and high school. Both are situated in
the Lady Frere District of the Eastern Cape. Some of the HoDs were in charge of one or more
subject and also had other duties at the school. One participant from SCHOOL 2 was selected
for the semi-structured interview.
After all data had been collected and transcribed, I made use of open coding (see paragraph
4.7.1) that allowed me to identify certain themes that emerged. The first step in the analysis
was to look at the content of the transcriptions of the focus groups. Several themes were
identified, but after working through the data systematically it became clear that all these
themes can in fact be divided into three categories: confusion about changes (paragraph
5.3.1), traditional methods of teaching (paragraph 5.3.2), and quality in education (paragraph
5.3.3). Armed with those categories, I turned my focus to the discourse of the focus groups,
to find the deeper meaning of what the participants were trying to communicate.
These three categories informed my semi-structured interview and allowed me to discuss
them during the interview which confirmed what was speculated during the focus group
interviews. The document analysis demonstrated how the HoDs went about managing the
department.
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5.3 Analysis of data from focus groups
In paragraph 4.7.1 I mentioned that my plan was to make use of open coding and how useful
it is for a novice researcher to transcribe the data. Doing it by hand gave me an even closer
look at the data. The process was a fairly simple one, and throughout I could see there were
three conspicuous and persistent themes: confusion about changes, quality in education, and
the traditional way of teaching. I would like to describe the process that I followed.
The data was transcribed by my listening to the audio tapes and writing down the words using
a word processing program. I took one interview at a time and read through it again to ensure
that nothing was left out. After reading it while listening to the audio again, I started to notice
certain patterns within the data. I made a list of certain words or phrases that I deemed
important (see Appendix 3). By listening and reading again, I identified words that were
constantly repeated. After doing this process with both interviews, I identified words or
phrases that I dubbed the “Big Six” (see Appendix 3). Going back to the transcriptions, I
highlighted the big six in colour. See table 5.1 below for the main themes and subthemes that
influenced them. This served as the beginning of my framework. I then scrutinised those
words again, seeing if some of them might not have a similar meaning that could be
represented by a single word or expression. After both interviews had been done, I started to
put the words together to see if I could not find an even bigger picture among them. From
that I identified three themes: confusion about changes, traditional methods of teaching and
quality in education.
Theme
Subtheme (Big six)
Confusion about changes (par. 5.3.1)
Confusion (green)
Traditional methods of teaching (par. 5.3.2)
No difference (blue)
Something new (pink)
Quality in Education (par. 5.3.3)
Acceptance (dark blue)
Final curriculum (red)
Priority (yellow)
Table 5.1: Themes with subthemes
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5.3.1 Confusion about changes
Figure 5.4: Confusion about changes
When one studies the make-up of the category confusion about change (figure 5.1) one can
see it incorporates negative feelings of discouragement. It also holds an element of not
understanding or not knowing. Fullan (2007) says that when change is experienced there
must be focus on the clarity of the need for change otherwise you can encounter confusion
and even resistance.
Confusion can be the cause of many factors and is seen as a lasting problem in the change
process. One of the factors is not knowing what to do or not understanding what to do. This is
evident from the focus group interviews in both schools1.
In SCHOOL 1 there was much confusion especially when the word curriculum was
mentioned2:
S1T2 (3-4): We try to understand this. They come with this new curriculum that
confuses us really. Don’t know what to say or do to the learners. Although they have
workshop you, but some of the changes really affects us.
1
Schools are referred to as SCHOOL 1 and SCHOOL 2 to protect anonymity. The HoDs in a specific school
will be referred to as S1T2 (3): meaning that HoD is TEACHER 2 from SCHOOL 1, line 3 in the transcription.
2
Transcriptions were done verbatim.
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Assessment was another confusing concept:
S1T3 (33-34): You know, teachers’ anger is not over assessment. You know. In the
entire curriculum there is an assessment, but you find out it is always some new
concepts, there are new concepts that will be confusing.
However, it was difficult for one HoD to see a change in her students’ marks when a
curriculum changes. Participant S1T2 feels that it might be because they do not understand
what is expected of them:
S1T2 (60-61): It has failed. If you look back, the children used to pass with flying
colours, but now they don’t want to learn. I don’t know whether it is this change or
not, I don’t know, but now, the learners don’t. They are not competent anymore.
In SCHOOL 2 there was also confusion about the changes but not as much as in SCHOOL 1.
Their focus was on not understanding what to do, rather than not knowing what to do. The
thing that confused them a great deal was the paperwork that was expected from them during
the curriculum changes:
S2T3 (25): Dit was deurmekaar [It was confusing]. When they started with the new
curriculum 2005, we were very confused. There is progress from then….
S2T2 (26 and 29): It’s the paperwork that was confusing, not the teaching part…. It
was confusing.
However, S2T3 admits that when the “new curriculum” started [I am assuming it is C2005],
she did not understand any of that:
S2T3 (27): Nee nee nee ek praat van die kurrikulum. Ons het niks van daai goed
verstaan nie toe dit begin het nie. [No, no, no, I am talking about the curriculum. We
did not understand any of those things when they started]
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In both schools there were feelings of discouragement due to not being able to make sense of
what was expected of them:
S1T3 (45-46): You feel bad about this. Sometimes you feel bad. As if there is nothing
that you know.
S2T1 (62): It is confusing, it is discouraging.
Occasionally the HoDs can make a simplistic interpretation of the changes that they need to
apply which can manifest as false clarity. According to Fullan teachers may dismiss certain
guidelines on the grounds that they are already doing that (2005). This is also evident in
SCHOOL 2 where they talked about the changes in the curriculum not affecting them:
S2T2 (48-49): We are still doing it since the beginning in a book, because it is much
easier for a small child to handle a book than to put things in files, it is difficult. We
are still working that all the time. So actually nothing has changed.
This may cause the dismissing of new teaching strategies and beliefs and prevent effective
implementation (Fullan, 2005).
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5.3.2 Traditional methods of teaching
Figure 5.5: Traditional methods of teaching
To gain clarity regarding the implementation of certain curriculum changes, one has to
consider the psychological reasons for resistance to change. However, when we talk about
organisational reasons for resistance to change we start looking at a “preference for tradition
rather than experience” (Van der Merwe, 2005: 42). It is clearly evident in the data that most
of these HoDs have a preference for the traditional way of doing things:
S1T2 (35): We use assessment in the traditional method of teaching
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S2T2 (21): Take the good out and go on with the old that we still had for many years
and put them together.
S2T2 (63): I think we are moving back to where we were in 1994
On the other hand, both schools displayed a keen interest in curriculum changes as they
stimulated their curiosity. Even with the constant changes to the curriculum the curiosity
displayed by them is evidence of lifelong learning among these HoDs:
S1T3 (29): We are just curious about it, something new.
One HoD misinterpreted All set for the new curriculum (Pretoria News, 2005) by insinuating
that something new is on the way:
S1T1 (26): Maybe there is something new they are coming with now.
Her interpretation is very interesting as it is viewed as “just another change” and that the
government never seems satisfied with their choices. A HoD from SCHOOL 2 made the
following remark:
S2T2 (46): If you compare it to the new curriculum that is going to be implemented. I
just hope it is better planned.
5.3.3 Quality in education
The demands of globalisation on education may not always lead to higher quality in
education (par. 1.3). Whilst interviewing the participants, quality seemed to be a major
concern of both groups.
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Figure 5.6: Quality in education
With the introduction of Quality still remains a top priority (The Mail and Guardian, 2005)
there was an immediate response of how important the quality of education must be:
S1T1 (2): Of course it still needs top priority
S1T1 (7): Yes, it is true that quality education still remains a top priority.
S2T1 (2): The aim should be in the quality.
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The elation did not last long. Both schools started questioning why the government changed
the curriculum so often if their focus was on the quality from the start:
S1T3: They always say it is a quality education, but why they change it if it is a
quality education.
SCHOOL 2 added that the government was not very successful with upholding the quality in
education:
S2T2 (9): I don’t think it is successful in our country.
The unavailability of materials contributes greatly to poor quality. SCHOOL 2 displayed
great concern for the lack of materials that can affect their quality:
S2T3 (54): The workbooks are excellent. There are a lot of very good things, but we
didn’t get it.
Another issue that surfaced in SCHOOL 2 was the different situation experienced. The
difference in provincial government is also of great concern for them as it affects the quality
of their education.
S2T2 (36): I don’t think they have empathy with the poor children.
S2T3 (59): Other provinces are so much better.
The difference between schools in the same district also becomes a quality issue when a
student was transferred between them. Then it became clear that not all schools attached the
same value to the quality of education:
S2T2 (123-128): At the end of the day we end up with this whole thing. If you look at
the end of the year, some years, somewhere, do you remember, the time we had to
moderate each other’s books, boeke omgeruil by die klasse [switch books of
classrooms and this was with moderation and then you take a look at my book.] Dis
drie kwart vol gewerk [It is completed three quarters]. And then you take the next one
and there is 4 or 5 pages written in there. That is the year’s work. Now they’ve set the
paper up. We are complaining about this that they want to; intermediate phase must
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write from January until November’s work, the whole year. Do you know how much
work is that in my school? But if you take another school’s books and you look at
those books, then yes you can learn it. So actually I am coming back to say our levels
are not the same. But when you look at the passing, puntestelsel [mark system], then
their passing rate is higher than our school. How do you get these things together? So
we will never ever get to the same level, because my children are working for their
level, but get nothing for free.
For the sake of quality the HoDs agreed that they must accept these changes:
S1T2 (77): Everybody is expected too, to accept the changes.
S2T1 (116): I just think that as a teacher, I will have to implement, there is no way
around it, and you just have to implement it to the best of my ability. That is what I
will have to do.
It was evident that HoDs had vastly different responses to curriculum changes and the effects
on their ability to manage their department efficiently and effectively.
The data from the semi-structured interview made it even clearer what curriculum changes
meant and how they were dealt with through effective management.
5.4 Data analysis from semi-structured interview and documents
The story of Anna3
Anna is a HoD at a school in a rural area of the Eastern Cape. She has been with the
school for many years, and a HoD for most of them. The town where she works is also
her home.
She seems content with her position as her favourite part of the job is the challenges
that arise. If the principal is not there, she has to take charge. Unfortunately with every
management position there is a down side. It is her responsibility to reprimand fellow
teachers which leads to conflict. At the school, Anna is in charge of overseeing the
3
Anna is a pseudonym for the teacher from SCHOOL 2.
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moderation of five to six subjects as well as discipline. This sometimes makes her feel
frustrated when changes occur in the curriculum, as she has to stay on top of all the
requirements and ensure that the teachers do their jobs.
When changes in a curriculum occur, Anna has no formal training. She attends the
workshops with her colleagues on an equal level, but back at school she resumes the
responsibility of a HoD and has to ensure that all is done. She found the workshops on
the new curriculum, CAPS, helpful, as they gave the teachers the opportunity to
develop mock lesson plans and gave tutorials on the requirements. However, for the
management of this curriculum change, she created her own way of doing things
through trial and error as there was no guidance for her in the town where she is.
For Anna, a positive attitude is the key to the success of anything. She feels that the
more positive you are about a situation; the more positively you will be able to
influence the people around you. It is important to her always to find something good in
the curriculum changes and build on what you have; otherwise you are faced with
failure. When one of the teachers in her department feels discouraged or “stuck,” Anna
assists them to find solutions to their problems. She feels that sometimes teachers just
need a sounding board, somebody willing to listen to them.
With all the new changes, Anna is observing that it is slowly but surely going back to
the traditional way of doing things and the lack of group-work required is a great relief
for her. She experienced her teachers as more positive about the changes and there is an
agreement that there is an overall improvement in the curriculum. When the teachers in
her department talk about confusion, she feels that they might be more afraid of
something new and that they are unsure what to do.
The semi-structured interview painted a different, but also similar, picture of curriculum
changes. The categories identified during the focus group analysis, were very visible, but
their description of each was slightly different. During the semi-structured interview, I had
the opportunity to explore further the categories identified in the analysis of the focus groups.
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5.4.1 Confusion about changes
When there is a lack of clarity during the implementation of a curriculum change, it may lead
to confusion among HoDs and teachers (par. 2.4.3). The continued introduction of a new
curriculum and the uncertainty of what to do cause confusion that was translated into
immense frustration with the curriculum.
Anna revealed that she believed confusion was created by the uncertainty of something new
and that the teachers were more afraid than confused (Anna, lines 65-66) about the changes
that were expected from them. It is also important for her to reflect a positive attitude hoping
it will spill over to the teachers in her department:
Anna (34 -35): I also think that the more positive you are about a situation, the more
positive you are going to influence the people you are working with.
Anna also commented on how confusion can create frustration with new changes to the
curriculum (line 12 & 65).
Throughout the documents it is evident that this HoD together with the SMT (Senior
Management Team) is trying to develop teachers and phase out any confusion they
experience. They have also committed themselves to mentor and support new and existing
teachers during the school year. This is evident in the IQMS implementation quarterly report
(Appendix 4: Document 1). When analysing the feedback to teacher C (Appendix. 4:
Document 4), Anna requested that a teacher ask for assistance either from herself or from
more experienced staff members when they are not sure what to do, as experience is key to
gaining clarity about changes.
5.4.2 Traditional methods of teaching
By insinuating, during the focus groups that this new curriculum, CAPS, is going back to the
traditional way of doing things most HoDs showed a clear preference for tradition over
change that can become a resistance to change (Van der Merwe, 2005). Anna, on the other
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hand, had a slightly different view: she saw the changes as an opportunity to combine new
ideas with existing practices.
Anna (33-34): I can always try and see the good in something and I know what work
and then I hope you find that in the new curriculum there must be something that will
work and you combine the two.
However, Anna displayed a great appreciation for the lack of group work in the new
curriculum as she felt some students rode on the coat tails of the smarter students:
Anna (51-52): But that was a bad thing, because I felt that the stronger pupil does all
the work and the weak ones gets the same mark.
5.4.3 Quality of education
Being one of the eight key factors for the initiation of change (Fullan, 2007), it is not unusual
for the word quality to be ever present when doing a content analysis of Anna’s interview.
The word quality frequently occurs, but when you start looking at her discourse, you realise
that she is all about quality. She is focused on the discipline of the students as well as that of
the teaching staff, even though conflict might arise. This all contributes to the quality of
education the school offers:
Anna (5 - 6): So you have to sort out the stuff and if there is conflict, you have to solve
the conflict, it keeps your mind up and going.
Another contributing factor is her commitment to assist the teachers in her department to
understand what is expected of them and to be a sounding board for their frustration:
Anna (42 - 44): I try to encourage them, see if I can help them where they are stuck.
Often they will come to me when they have assignments and stuff they are unsure of,
and will go through it and I will give them advice and we will discuss it, but most of
the time I think when the teachers are negative, they just need a sounding board, they
just need to get rid of what they feel and then often they will pick up from where they
left and build back on it.
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Her positive attitude towards her work and colleagues allows for an environment laden with
possibilities of quality education:
Anna (37 - 40): I acknowledge the negative way they feel, but then we try and build it
into something positive. Again it boils down to the thing, that if you are not positive to
what you must do and what you must implement, your thing is going to fail, the whole
system is going to fail. But the most important thing I think is to listen and to try and
understand and see if you cannot work with what they are unhappy with.
There is plentiful evidence that Anna was indeed attempting to create a positive environment
for her teachers. When she wrote comments to them, she always started off with thanking
them for their work and then gave them positive criticism:
Document 2: Baie dankie vir jou harde en goeie werk asook jou bereidwilligheid om
altyd te help. [Thank you for all your hard and good work as well as your willingness
to always help.]
Document 3: Baie dankie vir al the ekstra klasse waar jy die leerlinge help. [Thank
you for all the extra classes where you assist the learners.]
Document 4: Sien kritiek asseblief altyd as opbouende hulp en nie as negatiewe
kritiek nie. [Please see the criticism as constructive and not as negative criticism]
Her language indicated a non-threatening environment with positive reinforcement.
Document 3: Loer ook asb net want ek kon nie term 2 investigation in jou graad 8 file
kry nie. [Just have a look please because I cannot find term 2 investigation in your
grade 8 file]
The focus of her commentary to the teachers was always on the quality of education.
However, no matter how focused the HoD is on quality, she or he needs quality staff to make
changes in the curriculum successful (par. 1.4).
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5.5 Interpretation of data
The question I asked in the beginning was how Heads of Departments from schools have
responded to, and managed changes in the curriculum since 2005. To answer this question, I
have to break it down into two parts: responses of HoDs and management of HoDs. Each part
required an analysis of both the focus groups and the semi-structured interview. However, the
responses of HoDs were more prominent during the focus group as the methods used during
the session to seek out their responses to curriculum changes. The semi-structured interview
aimed to answer questions about the management of HoDs and the document analysis aimed
to verify the actions taken by the HoD.
5.5.1 Responses of HoDs
Fullan (2007) talks about the characteristics of change during the implementation phase (see
figure 2.1). The need for change and clarity were two of the most prominent responses of the
HoDs during the focus group interviews. However, the expression of quality in education
remained a persuasive theme throughout the interviews.
HoDs constantly have to put changes into effect that were forced upon them without having a
clear idea why complex reform, which might affect the outcome of education altogether, is
taking place. They plainly expressed their confusion when the curriculum was changed to
C2005, struggling to grasp some of the concepts, and even said that their students were
experiencing problems to achieve in this ever-changing atmosphere. This underlines the
importance of clarity. One of the schools was more equipped to handle these changes due to
the type of school and its community. However, both schools were struggling to make sense
of what was expected of them and the confusion of paperwork was an issue. For
implementation to be successful the changes must be practical; confusing paperwork
becomes a hindrance to successful change as well as to the quality of education produced.
Lack of understanding may become a psychological reason for resistance to change which
becomes what the HoD has to manage before it affects the implementation process too
severely. The transformation of confusion and frustration into guilt might be a threat to
change affecting the quality of education. Van der Merwe (2005) says that lacking skills and
motivation to deal with these changes may also contribute to the resistance to change.
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Another response identified was the nostalgia about traditional teaching methodologies.
Some of the HoDs were not even troubled about changing their way of doing things because
they felt they had been doing it like that for many years; that is what works. They did not see
a problem with the curriculum changes therefore being resisted. Avoidance of changes may
be caused by the stress during this transition period. Fullan talks about a false clarity that is
created when teachers begin to argue that the changes are unnecessary or that they have been
practicing the change for a period of time (2007). It becomes a threat to the success of
implementation. In spite of this, there is still a display of curiosity that yearns for something
that works. Therefore, a need is currently being created by these HoDs, not for a new
curriculum or any changes, but for something that works, a recipe of some kind. As explained
in Chapter 2 (par. 2.4.1) for change to occur a need must exist. By not including all HoDs in
the initiation of curriculum changes, they might feel that they are not important to the
process. This creates resistance in them.
This brings us to the issue of quality in education. Quality can only be achieved when you
have met the requirements of the needs, got clarity on certain issues and the complexity of the
change has been dealt with (Fullan, 2007). Both schools felt that if there was greater
consultation during the developmental phase of a curriculum, its implementation would be
better. There are many factors that influence the quality of education. Illiteracy is a big issue
currently in South Africa, so it is important for the HoDs to be focused on quality. The HoDs
are convinced that the most important factor for successful change should be the timely
availability of materials to schools as well as providing more assistance to schools where the
situations are drastically different compared to former model C schools on which the
curriculum was based. South Africa’s socio-economic landscape varies immensely, making
consistency an important issue when changes are brought about. Differences in schools, such
as exposure to technology, cause resistance to change because they view the quality of
education differently. One HoD expressed it very well: My quality is there, but I don’t think
the national quality is where it should be (S2T2, Line 15). As demonstrated in chapter 2
(2.4.1), the lack of access to information can put certain communities at risk of stunted
growth and development in a globalised world. However, there is an agreement among all of
them that it is their responsibility to accept these changes, no matter what, in order not to
sacrifice the quality of the education in the schools.
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The semi-structured interviews confirmed that, when a curriculum changes, there is a great
deal of confusion about what exactly to do, especially if you are set in your own ways,
nonetheless the focus is always on the quality of education produced by that HoD.
5.5.2 Management by the HoD during changes
The influences of the world around us make every person’s experience of change unique and
it is the responsibility of the HoD to initiate and implement change in the curriculum with a
diverse staff that might not always have the quality that is needed to be successful. The preoccupation of the principal with maintenance activities of the school as an organisation (par.
1.3), and the devolution of authority with regard to curriculum changes, lead to the HoD
making it his or her responsibility to manage change successfully (par. 3.2). If one considers
the responses of the HoDs, it becomes evident that there is psychological as well as
organisational resistance to change (Van der Merwe, 2005):

Not understanding the reasons for change: Confusion is generated by negative
feelings of discouragement (par. 5.3.1) that can lead to failure in the implementation
of change.

Preference for tradition: The curiosity created by the introduction of something new
does not always mean that a teacher or the HoD will accept the required change (par.
5.3.2).

Lack of skills and motivation: Even though the quality of the education produced by
an HoD is of great importance, it can be stunted by the lack of materials, lack of
consultation during curriculum development, and different situations in schools and
areas influencing their motivation negatively (par. 5.3.3)
One of the obligations of the HoD, as an agent of change, is to deal with this resistance before
it hinders the implementation of curriculum changes success (par. 1.4). The HoD is in a very
fortunate position to experience first-hand the problems that there are with the
implementation of the curriculum (par. 1.8). It is possible for the HoD to deal with any
resistance if he or she knows enough about the change process to understand why it doesn’t
work (Fullan, 2007). By only focusing on the innovations (changes) that do work and
rejecting the rest, he or she may avoid cynical views about the education system as a whole
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among teachers (Fullan, 2007). With good knowledge of the subject content and assessment,
and with a colourful pedagogical repertoire, the HoD will be able to relieve resistance
somewhat (par 1.4 and par. 3.2). Unfortunately, there is nothing that can replace experience
when it comes to management. Through trial and error (Anna, Line 31), the HoD will be able
to anticipate the difficulties and steer his or her teachers in the right direction. It is important
that the HoD apply pressure (Fullan, 2007) to the teachers but support them as well through
the times of change, as is evident from the documents collected (Appendix 4: Document 4).
The HoDs are accountable for the quality of work produced by his or her department (par.
1.4) and ensuring it is in agreement with the requirements of the policy by implementing
changes so they are visible as well as evaluating what has been done through evidence-based
management (Fullan, 2007).
Changing the curriculum sometimes requires teachers to change their beliefs (par. 2.3) in
order to change their practice, which might make the teacher unwilling to accept the
innovations due to emotional discomfort. The attitude of the HoD (through devolution of
responsibility) (par. 3.2) towards the changes, will greatly determine the attitude of the
teachers (par. 2.4.3). A positive demeanour towards the changes from the HoD may have a
positive ripple effect on the teachers’ behaviour (par. 5.4.3) making it more acceptable and
less stressful and thus lowering the resistance to change. The peculiar position of the HoDs
(par. 1.8) allows them to promote development through maintaining open department
boundaries and to just talk (Fullan, 2007). Allowing teachers to use them as sounding boards
(Anna, Line 43), teachers have the opportunity to vent and reflect on their feelings and by
doing so the HoD will nurture and sustain a strong teacher community (Fullan, 2007). There
are many “wills” in educational change (Fullan, 2007) but without quality action nothing will
change. The HoD must advocate change (as an agent of change) but must also be clear that
not all change is beneficial nor is it useless (Fullan, 2007).
Unfortunately for HoDs they are expected to take on a number of responsibilities when it
comes to curriculum change, but there is very little or no training for them in this regard.
Figure 5.4 (adapted from Van der Merwe, 2005) depicts how the theory compares with the
reality of implementations of changes. The top row displays how a manager should
systematically implement changes in five steps. The second row shows how it happens in
reality as depicted by Anna during the interview. The HoDs are under extreme time
constraints and workloads, and thus improvise as far as it is possible. In the case of Anna, she
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handed out the documents, cleared up any misunderstandings there were with a positive
attitude and sent the teachers out to do it in practice. When it became possible she called in
her teachers to moderate their work and check for compliance. The feedback she gave was
sufficient but it seemed rushed: the use of summarised sentences, just mentioning what is
lacking in files. There is a lack of minutes to meetings that is concerning; it seems as if she
did not put time into developing the teachers. This account of how curriculum changes are
managed, I believe, is not unique to Anna’s situation, but occurs more frequently than anyone
would hope, as I have experienced myself at my school. When the HoD lacks in motivation,
it can become quite problematic to implement changes successfully and as required by the
government.
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Figure 5.7: Managing changes systematically and successfully
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5.6 Conclusion
The evidence from this study suggests that HoDs focus on the importance of producing quality
education while trying to make sense of the changes that are expected of them. Evidence pointed
to how HoDs motivated their staff through positive reinforcement. By developing a strong
teacher community and recognising which changes are worth the time and effort the obstacles
can be targeted.
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Chapter 6
Overview, findings, and conclusion
6.1 Introduction
This chapter presents an overview of my methods of conducting a literature review and
collecting data during the research process and the conclusion to which I came. The presentation
of my findings in this chapter will be a summary which places emphasis on the need to pay more
attention to the middle management of schools. There will also be a discussion of the limitations
of the research and how I overcame them. The significance of my research demonstrates how my
research has contributed towards increasing our knowledge and understanding of the
phenomenon as well as informing our practices and policy debates. There are many opportunities
for further research on this particular topic which I highlighted as suggestions for further
research and how we can improve the practices of the HoD pertaining to curriculum changes.
6.2 Overview
Every chapter of this dissertation has a significant role in creating an awareness of how HoDs
managed and experienced curriculum changes. Even though each chapter can be seen as a
separate unit, together they create a holistic picture of the literature, the methodology, and the
findings about the phenomenon investigated.
I attempted to lay the foundation of the necessity for change in the first chapter as well as what I
aimed to achieve by the end of the chapter. The importance and the influence of globalisation on
the future of education is something that has to be taken into account when decisions regarding
the curriculum are made. It is also important to understand that some curriculum changes stem
from political motivation, as the government decides what they would like their country to
achieve in the future. Even though South Africa was not particularly successful with its post85
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apartheid curriculum choices, there is a great deal of evidence of numerous efforts to correct the
situation by constantly amending the curriculum for improvement. Hence, I focused on how
HoDs experienced and managed these changes due to their unique position as members of
middle management.
To better understand how the HoDs experienced and managed the curriculum changes, I had to
understand why curriculum changes come to pass and the processes involved in them. Through
the literature reviewed in chapter 2, I aimed to describe the phenomenon of curriculum changes
and to what extent globalisation influences these changes. Through the processes of initiation,
formulation, and implementation, I attempted to illustrate who the role players in the cyclical
process of educational change are. It appeared that the role of the HoD is not mentioned in any of
these processes, but only those of the principal and teachers.
It is particularly noticeable how important the role of the HoD is during curriculum changes and
implementation (see figure 4.1 depicting the communication of curriculum changes as explained
by Hoy and Miskel (2001)). Even though curriculum implementation is part of the principal’s
portfolio, it becomes part of the HoDs responsibility through devolution of responsibility, as
illustrated in chapter 3. The literature available on how HoDs or middle management should
manage these changes is insufficient, but there is much work on how teachers and principals
experience and manage changes. There is also a great deal of information on how other countries
like Italy, China, Argentina, and Botswana experienced and managed educational changes. By
considering how they experienced and managed these changes, I developed a framework for
analysing the data.
An appropriate method to obtain comprehensive detail about the experiences of a certain
phenomenon was through a narrative design. By means of focus group interviews, a semistructured interview and document analysis, I was able to analyse the data through content and
discourse analysis as explained in chapter 4. This gave me the opportunity to see how the
characteristics of change affected HoDs and how they managed it.
Throughout the analysis it became very evident that there are three main things that HoDs are
concerned about regarding curriculum changes: 1) confusion about changes; 2) traditional
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methods of teaching; and 3) the quality of changes. In chapter 5 it became clear that HoDs are
agents of change and they take on the responsibility of dealing with the resistance to change even
if they do not always understand why change occurs and are not trained properly to deal with it.
It was evident that the theoretical reality about how the changes should take place (fig. 5.4), does
not match the reality experienced by the participants in this study.
6.3 Findings
I aimed to determine the response to, and the management of curriculum changes by HoDs. I was
especially interested in their self-motivation, the motivation of the teachers in their departments
and the assistance that they gave these teachers during the course of curriculum changes.
To realise these aims, I made use of a narrative design that gave me the opportunity to
understand these responses and the management decisions of the HoDs. This became a story
focused on confusion, tradition, and the quality of education. There are several things required
for change in the education system to be successful. Within these stories of the HoDs I found that
the biggest barriers for them were identifying a need for change, acquiring clarity, and producing
quality education.
By collecting data through focus group interviews, a semi-structured interview and document
analysis I realised that some of the participants felt curriculum changes were unnecessary
because they did not see the need for change in the curriculum. They felt their methods, the
traditional way of teaching, were adequate and the government was upsetting their modus
operandi. Fullan (2007) refers to this as a false clarity that hinders the success of curriculum
change. However, they did what was expected of them as they believed the government was
trying to make things better. They accepted these changes, no matter how out of the ordinary
they may have seemed to them.
From the focus group interviews, I selected one suitable candidate to further investigate why the
HoD was responding in this manner. She revealed that confusion was caused by frustration
because they did not understand what was expected of them. Due to the lack of training, HoDs
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were not always clear on what their duties were. The principal reassigned some of his or her
responsibilities to the HoDs, especially the implementation of a new curriculum. The HoD being
a teacher and a manager had to implement what they had learned at teacher workshops, without
having training in the management of changes.
Even if managing the change was challenging to HoDs, it still remained their responsibility to
support and motivate the teachers in their departments. This can be done through having a
positive attitude about changes in the curriculum. Sometimes teachers have the need to vent their
frustration about the changes and the HoD might be used as a sounding board. By listening to the
teacher, and being positive about what was happening, they could encourage the teacher to go
back to the drawing board and try again. If a HoD is approached by a teacher about a specific
problem, the HoD must assist with finding a solution. It often helps to take something new from
the curriculum and combine it with the something that the teacher has been doing. For a HoD it
is of great importance that the work produced by his or her department is of great quality and
complies with what the Department of Basic Education is expecting of them. By accepting the
changes every time they hope that the quality of education will improve.
The aim was to determine the responses of the HoDs to curriculum changes and how they kept
themselves and the teachers in their department motivated. The HoDs demonstrated confusion
about changes and therefore kept to traditional methods of teaching while striving to produce
quality education and still comply with government regulations. Another aim was to understand
the management of the changes which resulted in accepting the changes while the HoD was
attempting to influence the teachers in their departments positively. Assistance lent to these
teachers was in the form of the HoDs being sounding boards for them and advising them on what
to do through their own experiences.
At the beginning of this study I assumed that the HoDs were not coping with these changes and
that they were trapped between the leadership that was required of them and the leadership that
they were capable of providing. When I look at the responses of the HoDs, there is a great deal
of evidence that they felt the Department was not clear about what was required from them and
the lack of workshops caused even greater confusion. The only thing that the HoDs felt they
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could do was to listen to the teachers in their department and advise them through their own
experiences while trying to comply with government regulations.
6.4 Conclusion about working assumption
At the beginning of this study I assumed that HoDs are experiencing difficulties with the
demands of the ever-changing curriculum. I also assumed that HoDs are less enthusiastic and
positive about policy changes due to policy fatigue.
My first assumption was proved to be correct through the HoDs’ confusion about what is
expected of them during these changes and, by keeping to traditional methods of teaching, they
are making sense of what is required from them.
The second assumption was refuted by the HoDs specifically saying that by being positive about
the changes, they are managing their departments more effectively and efficiently.
My conclusion is then that HoDs are in fact struggling to find their place in the process of
educational change and the lack of clear guidelines makes it very difficult for them to be sure of
their position in all of this. Nonetheless, a positive attitude yields better results than they hoped.
6.5 Limitations of the study
When I started with this study I was fully aware of the limitations I could experience during the
research process. Some of these limitations had a great effect on the result whereas others did
not.
One of the greatest limitations of this study was the lack of participants. Even though I
approached several schools, only two were willing and able to assist me with my research. To
make matters worse, from the two schools involved in the focus groups only one of the HoDs
was willing to participate in the semi-structured interview. The compliance with ethical
considerations resulted in having fewer than anticipated participants which hindered the process
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of data collection. However, the data was sufficient to understand the phenomenon as intended.
The pressures of being the HoD also provided poor documentation as record keeping was not up
to standard; it was just to comply with government regulations. Nonetheless, the methodology of
the study lent itself to ensuring that the data collected was sufficient to reach the conclusions I
did.
Another limitation of this study was the HoDs not being head of departments but rather phase
heads of a certain subject. The size of the schools and the current employment situation of the
Eastern Cape Department of Education with regard to unfilled HoD positions due to financial
constraints were the main contributors to this limitation.
I anticipated that there would be a problem with getting side-tracked during the focus groups, but
this did not happen. However, some of the participants struggled to interpret the meaning of the
newspaper headings used as prompts in the focus groups. They gave different data from what I
expected, but it was still sufficient for the purpose of reaching conclusions.
6.6 Significance of the study
The phenomenon I investigated was to determine the response and management of HoDs during
curriculum changes. A gap in the knowledge about curriculum changes exists because of the
unique position in which HoDs find themselves: being a teacher him- or herself, but also being a
manager and a leader of a department. There is abundant research on how principals manage
their schools and how teachers experience curriculum changes but very little on how HoDs
experience and manage curriculum changes. Through this research I aimed to do three things: 1)
add to the knowledge base, 2) suggest possible improvements for practice, and 3) inform policy
debates (Creswell, 2008).
Even though there is great confusion about the changes and what is expected of everybody, some
HoDs decided to apply the traditional methods of teaching. This however did not mean that they
completely ignored the changes; they were still curious and admitted that there were some good
ideas in the changes. The focus on producing quality education is non-negotiable with these
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HoDs. With very little guidance from the government, HoDs turned towards their own practice
and taught others through their experiences. Through this understanding it might lead to other
HoDs learning from these experiences and improving their own practices. To inform policy
debates, this research is significant because it makes a point of the necessity of including HoDs
when training of a new curriculum takes place and not only the teachers or principals. Specific
training for HoDs on how to manage change in schools is essential.
6.7 Recommendations for future research
Research is an on-going process due to our nature which constantly seeks ways of bettering
ourselves. I propose the following further research:

Exploring the possibility of the Department of Education developing formal programmes
to train specifically HoDs, phase heads, or subject heads, focusing on dealing with
curriculum changes.

Expanding this study to a larger part of the Eastern Cape to explore how HoDs manage
curriculum change and possibly developing a training programme from the perspective of
specifically the middle management position.

Professional development of HoDs to understand what their role during curriculum
changes is and how to manage these changes better by dealing with overload.
6.8 Recommendation for improvement of practice
During the research it became clear to me that the HoDs aim to just comply with the
requirements set out by the government. This was evident in the documents that I have received
from the participant of the semi-structured interview. This might lead to chaos when more proof
is required by the government. A recommendation for improving the practice of the HoDs would
be for them to be more thorough with record keeping, especially of meetings held.
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6.9 Concluding remarks
People react differently to certain events because of their experiences. To understand the way in
which HoDs react to curriculum change one has to understand how they practice their
understanding of changes. This can be done by looking at the experiences of curriculum changes
of HoDs. During this research I explored the foundation for the necessity of curriculum changes
and the management of it. The lack of information on the management of curriculum changes
from a middle manager’s perspective suggested a platform for my research. The passion that was
evident in the HoDs for curriculum change made me feel that it is important to include these
middle managers in the processes of curriculum changes and to educate HoDs better. This may
lead to the creation of the higher quality of education that South Africa so desperately needs.
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Appendix 1: Ethical clearance and permission
Ethical clearance
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Permission from ECDE
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Appendix 2: Newspaper headings
1. “Quality education still remains a top priority” (Weekly Mail & Guardian, 10 March 2005)
2. “All set for new curriculum” (Pretoria News, 22 November 2005)
3. “Teachers’ anger is not over assessment, but flaws in OBE” (Cape Times, 8 October 2008)
4. “The rot runs much deeper than a failed curriculum” (Business Day, 14 July 2010)
5. “Principals welcome changes announced in the new curriculum statement” (Cape Times, 7
July 2010)
6. “Final school curriculum has still not been released” (The Times, 17 January 2011)
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Appendix 3: Semi-structured interviews questions
1.
What are your responsibilities being a HoD?
2.
What do you like about your work?
3.
What aspect(s) of your work are less enjoyable than the ones described in your answer to
two above?
4.
How do you feel when a change in the curriculum is announced?
5.
What are the procedures that you follow when a change is brought about in the curriculum?
6.
How did you learn or develop these procedures?
7.
How do you motivate yourself to continue adapting to the changes?
8.
How do you perceive the reactions of the teachers within your department when the
curriculum changes?
9.
How do you motivate and assist the teachers in your department when change occurs?
10.
What is your view of Schooling 2025?
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Appendix 4: Interviews
Focus group interview: School 1
SCHOOL 1
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Quality education still remains a top priority. What are your views about this heading? What do you think when you read this?
Yes of course it still needs top priority, but the changes affects us a lot. First it was OBE, it was RNCS, it was NCS, now it is going to get. It confuses us so much.
We try to understand this. They come with this new curriculum, that confuses us really. Dont know what to say or do to the learners. Although they have workshops you, but
some of the changes really affects us.
Yes, I also have the same sentiment. They always say it is a quality education, but why they change it if it is a quality education. Always changes.
What do you feel when you read this, your feelings when they say quality education still remains a top priority?
Yes it is true that quality education still remains a top priority.
So you agree?
Yes we agree
If I was to tell you that this appeared in The Mail and Guardian in 2005 , how does that make you feel? This was now six years ago they said this.
Ooooooo.
You still agree with it?
It appeared in 2005? It still appears in the newspaper
All set for the new curriculum. What do you think when you hear those words? All set for the new curriculum.
Why new curriculum always?
Which means there is something new that is going to take this.
If I say this was in The Pretoria News 2005 , what do you feel about that, all set for the new curriculum? If you can think back especially from HOD or vice principal's
perspective?
But if you look at this curriculum, they said new curriculum in 2005, but there is no vast difference between 2005 curriculum and this one, but only technology.
Only technology.
2005 was OBE ne?
They change the technology, if you can look at it.
What are your first thoughts when you read: “All set for the new curriculum?” How do you feel inside?
Maybe there is something new they are coming with now.
Are you excited?
Yes.
We are just curious about it, something new.
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Teachers’ anger is not over assessment but the flaws in OBE? What are your thoughts when you read something like that?
Teachers’ anger is not over the assessment. It is all those assessments that we had to do but over the flaws in OBE. How do you feel when you read this and if you
think back and if you think what you have to do now
You know, teachers’ anger is not over assessment. You know, In all the curriculum there is an assessment, but you find out it is always some new concepts, there are new
concepts that will be confusing.
Yes, we use assessment in the traditional method of teaching, but now OBE came with a lot of paperwork and a lot of specific outcomes,[in Xhosa] critical outcomes, a lot, too
much.
This was published in The Cape Times in 2008 ? What do you think? Are they coming to their senses? Where are they going with this?
It has brought about confusion
If we think so far to this point, what do you think of the things that I have shown to you? What is going on in your head? What are you experiencing?
I experience confusion
Yes, many challenges.
Many changes, yes.
What emotion do you feel, if you now think what I have now shown to you, what emotion do you feel inside?
You feel bad about this. Sometimes you feel bad. As if there is nothing that you know.
{agreement}
What is your view point of curriculum changes? What do you think of curriculum changes? What do you think of the two words: curriculum changes?
The fact that it is changes now. There is change in the curriculum, always change in the curriculum and it brought out many challenges. It means that there will be also a lot of
challenges that we are going to face, if there is a curriculum change. There will be involved, there will be new concepts that you will have to familiarise yourself with.
Any other opinions about ...
But in the true sense of curriculum, there is no change in the true sense, because if you take this, the content is the same.
Why do you think they change the curriculum? Why do you think the changes occur? The government or whoever decides now we must change again. Why do you
think they decided?
There is a perception that there is not actually a right education. They are still looking for the right education.
The rot runs much deeper than a failed curriculum. This was published in Business Day 2010 . I think it was just before the release of CAPS. What do you think
when you read that? “The rot runs much deeper than a failed curriculum.”
All it means is that the curriculum that has been used before 2010 has failed. .
It has failed. If you look back, the children used to pass with flying colours, but now they don’t want to learn. I don’t know whether it is this changes or not, I don’t know, but
now, the learners don’t. They are not competent anymore.
Anything?
Maybe in this new curriculum we must expect a change even from the children, because now, since they reduced the number of the subjects to six now, maybe there will be a
change to the children because at least they were doing nine and now they will do six and uuuhh I don’t know what to say. Maybe a lot of work now has ... Maybe they will
compete, because now ..., I don’t think there is a lot of paperwork to teachers. At least now teachers now will go to the classroom and teach the children. I think it is back to the
traditional way now, I think.
Principals welcome changes announced in the curriculum statement. Now you are a vice principal, but now from a perspective of say an HOD or the teacher, the
principal welcomes changes announced in the new curriculum statement. What do you think; this was published in The Cape Times 2010 . Do you think the principals
must have a big say in this?
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They can’t do otherwise because the ministers bring the new changes and the principal must accept it, because they say now we must do this and we must do it.
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I think there is also a motivation behind this that they are going to make is simpler, the approach will be simpler.
From a middle management position, now you as an HOD and you as a vice principal, you are not the top management. You are here in the middle managing
everybody. Would you agree with this kind of statement? Do you agree that the principal has the right to welcome the changes? Don’t you think somebody else must
T3: I think all the stakeholders, they should agree, it is not only the principal.
T2: Everybody is expected too, to accept the changes.
Me: Do you think principals are the only ones to be consulted about the changes?
ALL: No.
Me: Who else do you think should be consulted?
T3: The parents, the learners and other interested parties.
Me: Like example what other interested parties are there?
T2: The nurses, policemen must also be involved, the social workers.
Me: Final school curriculum has still not been released. This was The Times , January 2011 . The beginning of last year. Now most of us know then the CAPS already
started in the schools. What do you think about the final school curriculum that has still not been released?
T1: The final school curriculum that has still not been released. That means, that CAPS is not the final school curriculum. Is there anything coming? Is the new school curriculum
coming, because we think CAPS is the final school curriculum now.
T2: I also think so, that CAPS must be the final now.
Me:
T3:
T1:
Me:
T2:
Conclusion. What do you think is the next step from here? I here concerns about; is CAPS the final school curriculum? What do you think we must we do from here
to get to a better place where we are currently?
I think we have to start with CAPS as they have said they are going to do it and save the changes locate.
And we must stick to CAPS now at least for ten years and see the results. We must not change after five years. That brings a lot of confusion. At least for ten years and we will
see if it has been effective or not.
What do you think Mrs. Falo
I think CAPS must be here to stay, although we didn’t start it yet, but it is promising.
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Focus group interview: School 2
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Quality education still remains a top priority. What are your views about this heading? What do you think when you read this?
The aim should be in the quality.
What do you feel when you read this heading? Quality or education still remains a top priority?
Out of my view?
What are your view point, what do you feel?
I feel good about it, relieved, save.
If I told you that this was an article in the Male and Guardian 2005, how does that make you feel about the last six years that you have experienced.
I just want to make something clear, quality education is for myself. I don’t think it is successful in our country. I said of my view. I am not talking about education as a hole NOW.
I want your view point, but when I tell you that this was published in 2005, how does it change, because it immediately effects what you are thinking.
It’s not affecting me,
I don’t agree.
My quality can’t ever change.
My quality is there, but I don’t think the national quality is where it should be.
And the changes that build up to 2005?
I don’t let the judges influenced me. It’s got no influenced on me.
All set for the new curriculum. View points. What do you think about that heading?
They can do it.
It is a starting point.
It is something new. We will again like the last one sellect the good. Take the good out and go on with the old that we still had for many years and put them together.
I think we will adjust without getting our quality slipped.
And if I said this was published in Pretoria News 2005, do you agree with all said for the new curriculum then?
No.
Dit was deurmekaar. When they started with the new curriculum 2005, we were very confused. There is progress from then.
It’s the paperwork that was confusing, not the teaching part.
Nee nee nee ek praat van die kurrikulum. Ons het niks van daai goed verstaan nie toe dit begin het nie.
Your thoughts about this is that the paperwork was not in order.
It was confusing.
Teachers anger is not over assessments but flaws in OBE. Thoughts, feelings?
Flaws like what? Too much admin. The intermediate phase is overloaded, totally overloaded.
I think the time is too short to cover it, according to OBE, as you should.
Classes are too big.
We sit with different classes here in our Eastern Cape. We don’t have the same quality child that they have in Pretoria and that makes a very big difference. Our children; jy weet
hulle lewetjie is so groot.. A topic for oral or essay, you have to select so very carefully, because they don’t have knowledge about these things.
You must please give me your opinions, that is what I want; what do you want, what do you feel?
I don’t think they have empathy with the poor children.
And the High School. I am talking out of an accounting and math oogpunt. The fact that they dropped the standard grade maths and the standard grade accounting makes it much
more difficult for your average or your lower child to grasp. You get them passed, but it is difficult to get them to obtain A’s, where with the standard grade it was much easier to get
them to get A’s.
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T2:
T3:
T2:
If I say this was published in the Cape Times in 2008? Do you think this heading is fitting? When they released this, you know, it’s been quite a while since its been
introduced.
Well, actually they are trying now again. Let us see what is coming out of the try this time.
Ok, if we refocused. What have you experienced from those headings that you have now seen? It is post 1994 but before we have now started with a new curriculum. What
are your experiences with those headings? What feelings are coming up. What are your thoughts about it?
If you compare it to the new curriculum that is going to be implemented. I just hope it is better planned.
I don’t actually think so, because they said they are going to make paperwork less for the teachers. Now on this CAPS training, now they ask what paperwork is going to be less. The
teacher can now put FET grades put all three in one file. But it is still the same paperwork. It is only in one file. The children doesn’t need to have files, they can do it in a book. We
are still doing it since the beginning in a book, because it is much easier for a small child to handle a book than to put things in files, it is difficult. We are still working that all the
time. So actually nothing has changed.
ek weet nie
What emotions do you feel when you think of these headings?
Frustration. [laugh] Sometimes disappointment, because sometimes they promise you it is going to be less, it is going to be better. Now we have started the CAPS, but during this
month we received our books for the first times, but six months is ... when we had to do the training during our own holidays. They promised all in January we are going to receive
it, we have just received it. The workbooks are excellent. There are a lot of very good things, but we didn’t get it.
Up until today, I have not received one single Afrikaans book for grade 4, grade 5 or grade 6.
They promise, promise and promise.
Now we get the exam papers from Lady Frere. What 18th if September. They set it up out of those books, they used those books and my children don’t have books.
T3:
Me:
Other provinces are so much better. Not just the delivery, everything, the training.
What is your view point of curriculum changes, changing the curriculum continuously. What is your view point of that?
T1:
T2:
It is confusing, it is discouraging.
Actually I think we are moving back to where we were in 1994, because this thing of the catalogue that we are going to order our new books out of. They only selected 4 or 6
publishes and you have to use them. It was in 1994 the same. The department sent 4 or 6 books and the names of them and that is what they have used all over the country. And
therefore they could write one paper all over the country and that is what it is going to be again now. They take all these little publishers, they are going to take them away.
Me:
Why do you think they changed it?
T3:
T2:
Because it didn’t work the first time, so they try something else.
I don’t know if anyone, dit was op tv ek is gewillig om dit op daai ding te sê. It was a person in out of the ANC and he asked what happened to all the things in apartheidsjare of
education and his words was: they were not all bad, what happened to them?” So actually I think somewhere something is happening and people are busy realising but actually it
worked and they are slowly moving back to it. Slowly, too slow.
Me:
The rot runs much deeper than a failed curriculum. What do you think? The rut runs much deeper than a failed curriculum. what do you think? The rot runs much deeper
than a failed curriculum.
The people working with the curriculum, isn’t the people who are physically working in the classroom, they don’t have the knowledge, they don’t have the teaching experience
Me:
T2:
Me:
T2:
T3:
Me:
T3:
T1:
T2:
and they’ve just got a little bit of knowledge. If you ask them a question on this side, no they will go and find out. It is people I feel, not all of them, there are some good ones, but it
is actually people, there are people in these posts that are not successful.
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Because sometimes something really works and then they change it to something (different?) We are in the classrooms and we know what works.
I don’t think they come in contact with us, get our feeling enough and I don’t think they work our feeling into the curriculum.
This was released in Business Day in 2010 and that is very recent, two years ago about now. How does that make you feel?
That rat is running only a bit slowly,
it takes long, but it is good that it gets acknowledge.
Your emotions? Earliers T3, you said discouraged.
It doesn’t really got an influence. I think I am too old now, they are still younger, let them...They allow it to have an influence.
It is good they acknowledge it, but the question is, are they going to do something about it?
Principals welcomes changes announced in the curriculum statement.
No, definitely not my principal, he doesn’t like changes.
That is excellent, I love that.
No definitely not.
Do you agree that principles have the final say in this, in the curriculums?
No they don’t have any say in the curriculum.
Cape Times 2010, that was also quite recent, so something....
Perhaps in Cape Town, yes perhaps there,
die steekproef was nie reg gedoen nie.
Always remember that Western Cape is your top province. Come and do the same here in Dordrecht, where we don’t even have enough teachers?
From a middle management position, would you agree with this kind of statement?
I don’t know.
I don’t think so.
It all depends on what the changes are.
Do you think principles are the only ones to be consulted about the curriculum or about the changes?
No. It is the one in the class
Final school curriculum has still not been released. This was The Times, January 2011.
Shocking. It is going to be January 2013 and it will still not be released and the catalogues are not going to be released. They warned us in Queenstown last week.
Conclusion. What do you think is our next step from here. Where do you think we should go, looking forward?
Now you not only have to look for yourself, you have to look at education, ne.
Yes.
That is a very difficult one, because I can’t see it out of their point of view, I don’t understand.
Your point of view. What must we do to go somewhere?
I think there were good things out of this old curriculum thing. If you’ve got only the ability to get the good things and the new things together and they must just leave you. If this
works for me, this way of education work here. Where I’ve got Afrikaans home language and additional language together in one classroom and I’ve settled this thing and it works for
me. Just leave me alone. Let me do my thing and let me end up at the end of the year with what they asked me. I must have this and reach this and this, it’s fine. But to try to teach me
now to be a teacher like one in (place name) for example, who work only with Xhosa little children, there are just too many levels, that’s all.
I just think that as a teacher, I will have to implement, there is no way around it, you just have to implement it to the best of my ability. That is what I will have to do.
Yes, because we are back to six subjects next year.
At least the LOs and Asss aren’t there, so that takes…
Nobody mentioned that.
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139 Me:
Clusters is weg, ja gelukkig is dit weg. We need help, because as T2 said, we are in totally different situations. If schools like ours for instance Indwe and Eliot and we come together
and work then we can learn from each other. We had 2 courses the last month or so and we learned absolutely nothing. We just realised how many books they have received and we
didn’t get it.
At the end of the day we end up with this whole thing. If you look at the end of the year, some years, some where, do you remember, we time we had to moderate each others books,
boeke omgeruil by die klasse and this was with moderation and then you take a look at my book. Dis drie kwart vol gewerk. And then you take the next one and there is 4 or 5 pages
written in there. That is the years work. Now they’ve set the paper up. We are complaining oubout this that they want to; intermediate phase must write from January until
Novembers work, the whole year. Do you know how much work is that in my school?15:57 But if you take another school’s books and you look at those books, then yes you can
learn it. So actually I am coming back to say our levels are not the same. But when you look at the passing, puntestelsel, then their passing rate is higher than our school. How do you
get these things together? So we will never ever get to the same level, because my children are working for their level, but get nothing for free.
Your standard is higher.
While the other one..., well I don’t know. They don’t even write exams, but they’ve got marks on there rapports. Actually I think that is our biggest problem, is standard. I can give
you another example. I’ve got the papers, I’ve got the rapportcards, I’ve got a girl in grade 5, just comming here out of the Transkei schools. She had 68% for Afrikaans. I’ve just
marked her paper, she’s got 1 % for Afrikaans. She can’t even answer me a question1in Afrikaans. If I asked her what is her name in Afrikaans, she can’t even answer that, but she’s
got 68 % for Afrikaans. She’s got 92 % for maths. She had 3 % last term months. We did find the school and actually the principle comes from Dordrecht. He promised us to go and
do some research work on this child and send it to us, but I have never received it. You understand what I mean by levels? Now the parents think we are bad teachers. How can my
child, this excellent rapportcard! And here the teacher says the child knows nothing. And I am the wrong one, they just think I am the wrong one and it brings me back to levels. We
don’t have the same level of education. We can forget about all curriculums, before we don’t fix the level, we will never be successfull. Getting new children in from ... whew, whew.
The first six months, all they speak is Xhosa.
Thank you very much. I appreciate you guys for coming. I think I have learned a lot and I have got lots to say and write.
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Semi-structured interview: Anna
SEMI-STRUCTRED INTERVIEW WITH ANNA
Line 1 Me: What are your responsibilities as an HOD?
Line 2 Anna: Moderating files of the subjects, I am in charge of the IQMS, overseeing basically discipline; in charge of the discipline, making sure that detention is done, who is in charge of
detention, what days. That is basically it.
Line 3
Line 4 Me: What do you like about your work?
Line 5 Anna: The challenges. I would say the challenges, it is mentally challenging. For if the principle is not there, you are basically second in charge, so you have to sort out the stuff and if
there is conflict, you have to solve the conflict, it keeps your mind up and going.
Line 6
Line 7 Me: What aspects of your work are less enjoyable than the ones described in your answer just now.
Line 8 Anna: Going to staff member and telling them they must see to it that they are on time. Going to staff member and telling them they must think twice before taking leave, the conflict that
can arise, that is not nice.
Line 9
Line 10 Me: How do you feel when a change in the curriculum is announced? Like what I said when they announced it in the newspapers and things, how do you feel about that?
Line 11
Line 12 Anna: Sometimes you are frustrated, because the new curriculum brings new stuff, it brings new ways of doing stuff and it is not one subject that I moderate, it is about 5 of 6 different
subjects and 5 or 6 different teachers and then I have to stay on top of everyone’s requirements. The number of tests that they must write in, the marks they must up/write in and that
Line 13
is quite difficult.
Line 14
Line 15 Me: What are the procedures that you follow when a change is brought about in the curriculum?
The correct one or the one we do at school?
Line 16
Line 17 Me: How do you do it, not what they say we must do it. We are interested in how you guys do it?
Line 18 Anna: Making sure that the teachers get the new documents. Make sure that they understand it and then once you moderate their work and go through their work, you will check and make
sure that it complies with what is required according to the policies or assessment guidelines or whatever. And give feedback and show what changes must be made to bring it up to
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Line 21 Me: With regards to CAPS, how did you guys go about implementing this?
Line 22 Anna: After we went to the training courses? Basically it was exactly the same. The teachers, each one of us were equipped and then the agencies went and checked the CAPS documents
to see whether all the requirements were met. All the test, were all the controlled tests done and all the assignments done, was it the correct marks, totals.
Line 23
Line 24 Me: I am deviating a bit. The workshops, how did you find the workshops, do you think they enabled you to do your job more proficiently?
Line 25 Anna: In a way yes and in a way no. No, I think the time that it took, the workshop was 3 days. I think in half a day they could basically give us the summary. Yes in a way that if you find
it difficult to implement something, they did give you the guidelines. What was good about it is that they gave you the practice; they gave you tutorials that you have to work out and
Line 26
worksheets and in that, in that sense it was quite good.
Line 27
Line 28 Me: How did you learn or developed these procedures of giving the new materials and then give them to the teachers and making sure they understand and then you moderate
this and then you give them feedback. How did you come to develop this?
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37 Anna:
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Through trial and error. We wouldn’t have any guidance on it, there was no guidance. It was basically just what I do and how the teachers I work with, who I have to moderate, how
it looks and what is in it, is a reflection of me.
How do you motivate yourself to continue adapting to these curriculum changes?
I don’t think I am a negative person. I can always try and see the good in something and I know what work and then I hope you find that in the new curriculum there must be
something that will work and you combine the two. I also think that the more positive you are about a situation, the more positive you are going to influence the people you are
working with. So it does not help to have a negative attitude.
How do you perceive the reactions of the teachers within your department when the curriculum changes?
I acknowledge the negative way they feel, but then we try and built it into something positive. Again it boils down to the thing, that if you are not positive to what you must do and
what you must implement, your thing is going to fail, the whole system is going to fail. But the most important thing I think, is to listen and to try and understand and see if you
cannot work with what they are unhappy with.
How do you motivate and assist the teachers in your department when changes occur or when the negativity comes, what do you do to help them?
I try to encourage them, see if I can help them where they are stuck. Often they will come to me when they have assignments and stuff they are unsure of, and will go through it and
I will give them advise and we will discuss it, but most of the time I think when the teachers are negative, they just need a soundboard, they just need to get rid of what they feel and
then often they will pick up from where they left and built back on it.
What is your view of school in 2025?
I was actually worrying about quite a bit. I was actually wondering if we will be replaced by more computerised tutors where each student can advance according to his ability. I
know they have started implementing it at the flight school in Fort Beaufort where if I was a stronger pupil, I can go at my pace if I am quicker than whoever is slower than I am.
Is there anything you want to add about the curriculum changes, how you feel about them?
I actually think it is basically going back to the old curriculum and I think it is definitely better than it is now. The only thing that worries me with CASS was the group work. At
this stage I am not sure how much group work there is in CAPS, I think it is going to be less. But that was a bad thing, because I felt that the stronger pupil does all the work and the
weak ones gets the same mark.
So you are happy that the group work is less in the new curriculum?
Yes, much happier.
So you will say there is improvement.
Yes, there is definitely improvement.
And this improvement, do you think when the teachers are reading these new documents and they are going for the training, do you think they are more positive than when,
say curriculum 2005 was released?
I would say they are definetely more positive with the fact that, those assessment standards, that they have done away with them, in that area I definitely think. It is much easier to
read and understand also because there is a lot less paper work.
What I have noticed out of the readings that I did with the other interviews and things is that the people speak a lot about confusion. That they are confused now or ...?
With the new CAPS coming in?
Yes, do you think it is creating confusion were you are or ..?
I think it is because it is something new and I think we are all afraid of something new. I think that is what might cause the confusion. My grade 10s is the first that are now doing
the new curriculum and in a way yes, you are unsure, there might be a bit of confusion, but I think in the end it is going to be better than CASS.
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Appendix 5: Development of themes
List of recurring words:
School 1
Words or phrases
Priority of education
Confusion
Don’t know what to do
Effect of changes
Why change
No difference in the curriculum
Something new
Excited
Curious
Assessment is traditional
Paperwork
Too much
Challenges
Many changes
Feeling bad
Nothing that you know
Always change
Right education
Failed curriculum
Learners don’t know
Change in children
“I don’t know”
We must accept
New curriculum make simpler
All stakeholders should agree
CAPS must be final
10 years to test curriculum
Occurrences
more than
once



Link to themes (if any)
Quality of education
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes


Traditional methods of teaching
Traditional methods of teaching
Traditional methods of teaching

Traditional methods of teaching
Traditional methods of teaching
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes


Confusion about changes
Quality of education
Traditional methods of teaching

Quality of education
Quality of education
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School 2
Words or phrases
Aim on quality
Feel good, relieved, safe
Not successful in South Africa
No effect
No influence
Can do it
Something new
Take the good
Go on with the old
Confusion
Don’t understand
Too much admin
Too little time
Big classes
Student exposure
Dropped standard to accommodate
Planning better
Nothing really changed
Frustration
Disappointment
No books
Personal time for training
Other provinces better
Discouraging
If it doesn’t work, change
Curriculum writers has no
experience
Ground level implementers know
what works
Ignoring us
Too long
I am too old to bother
What are they doing?
My principal doesn’t like change
Principals have no say
Don’t understand
Leave me alone
No choice
Occurrences
more than
once






Link to themes (if any)
Quality of education
Quality of education
Traditional methods of teaching
Traditional methods of teaching
Traditional methods of teaching
Traditional methods of teaching
Traditional methods of teaching
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes
Quality of education



Quality of education
Traditional methods of teaching
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes
Confusion about changes
Quality of education
Confusion about changes
Quality of education
Confusion about changes

Quality of education

Quality of education
Traditional methods of teaching

Quality of education
Confusion about changes
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The Big Six
1. Priority (yellow)
2. Confusion (green)
3. No difference (blue)
4. New (pink)
5. Acceptance (dark blue)
6. Final (red)
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Appendix 6: Documents
Document 1: IQMS implementation quarterly report
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Document 2: Feedback to teacher A
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Document 3: Feedback to teacher B
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Document 4: Feedback to teacher C
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Document 5: Moderation tool
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Document 6: School moderation tool
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