SCHOOL PRINCIPALS’ EXPERIENCE OF THE INSPECTORATE IN A JOHANNESBURG SCHOOL DISTRICT

E. Raath, C. Smith

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
Since the last decades of the 20th century, school accountability has dominated the policy discourse internationally. School districts, through an inspectorate, typically became the hub around which accountability mechanisms were implemented. In the Gauteng province of South Africa, school inspectors are known as Institutional Development and Support Officials (IDSOs).

The research aim was to explore how school principals in a Gauteng school district experience the role of their IDSOs. This is an interpretive case study. The data is derived from in-depth interviews with purposefully selected school principals.

Most of the principals experience their IDSOs as being almost exclusively concerned with ticking boxes on checklists for policy compliance rather than with school development support. They experienced the IDSOs as intrusions rather than as resources. The principals’ expressed a desire for meaningful engagement about education issues with visionary leaders. This study makes a modest contribution to the little literature that exists on school districts in South Africa.