About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4012-4022
Publication year: 2020
ISBN: 978-84-09-24232-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2020.0902

Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference


M. Sithole, C. Smith, C. Mara

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
For some decades now, the majority of South African schools have been characterised by a breakdown in their school culture. School culture consists of the assumptions, values, cultural artefacts and unwritten rules of behaviour and thinking that are shared by the members of a school community. Our research aim was to investigate the characteristics of the culture of a successful public secondary school in a semi-rural area in the north of South Africa. In order to achieve the aim of the study, the following objectives were set:

1. To identify the artefacts characteristic of the school culture.
2. To examine the values characteristic of the school culture.
3. To explore the underlying assumptions of the school culture.

Schein’s (2010) three levels of organisation culture –artefacts, values and assumptions– provided the theoretical framework for the study. The study was framed within an interpretative research paradigm and adopted a generic qualitative research design. The school was selected based on its excellent academic performance for more than ten consecutive years. Six teacher participants were purposefully selected for the study. Data were collected using one-on-one semi-structured in-depth interviews and were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Research quality was achieved by providing an audit trail, keeping a reflexive journal and writing thick descriptions.

The findings of the study reveal, firstly, that school artefacts, such as the school uniform, sport and ceremonies, foster a sense of identity, pride, unity and achievement motivation. For example, the uniform gives learners a sense of identity and unity. Similarly, school sport unifies staff and students, promotes the school in its community and offers academic underperformers an outlet to achieve success. Ceremonies foster cultural integration and motivate pupils to enhance their performance and to celebrate the achievements of their peers. Second, the school’s values of community involvement, teamwork and distributed leadership promote social cohesion among school role-players and stakeholders. The school is freely accessible to its surrounding community and in return receives the community’s support in achieving its mission, vision and goals. The well managed school and the strong school discipline, that reflects an internal locus of control among the pupils, are seen to be a function of the community’s close involvement in the school. Teamwork has created a strong social cohesion amongst the staff. This has led to their personal job satisfaction, and commitment and dedication to the school. School leadership sets the tone in the school and facilitates teacher work engagement and pupil performance. However, leadership is not confined to the principal. It is distributed amongst the teachers and pupils. School leaders are also influential role models for the pupils. Finally, the school’s values are grounded in strong religious assumptions surrounding healthy human relationships, such as open communication, commitment and self-control. The study concludes with recommendations for possible further research.
author = {Sithole, M. and Smith, C. and Mara, C.},
series = {13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2020 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-09-24232-0},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2020.0902},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2020.0902},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Online Conference},
month = {9-10 November, 2020},
year = {2020},
pages = {4012-4022}}
AU - M. Sithole AU - C. Smith AU - C. Mara
SN - 978-84-09-24232-0/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2020.0902
PY - 2020
Y1 - 9-10 November, 2020
CI - Online Conference
JO - 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2020 Proceedings
SP - 4012
EP - 4022
ER -
M. Sithole, C. Smith, C. Mara (2020) ORGANISATION CULTURE OF A SUCCESSFUL LIMPOPO SECONDARY SCHOOL, ICERI2020 Proceedings, pp. 4012-4022.