Original Research

The development of a behavioural competency framework for school principals

Jaco Janse van Vuuren, Francois van der Bank
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 49 | a2050 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v49i0.2050 | © 2023 Jaco Janse van Vuuren, Francois van der Bank | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 August 2022 | Published: 28 February 2023

About the author(s)

Jaco Janse van Vuuren, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Francois van der Bank, Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Abstract

Orientation: More than two and a half decades into South Africa’s democracy, the majority of the country’s learners receive low-quality school education, adversely affecting upward social mobility. Ensuring quality education for all South Africans requires a combined approach of equitable resource allocation and effective school leadership that transforms resources into educational outcomes.

Research purpose: The objective of the study was to develop a behavioural competency framework for school principals.

Motivation for the study: While past studies highlight school leadership and management to be pivotal in the establishment and maintenance of well-performing schools, less is known about the behavioural competencies required by school principals.

Research approach and method: Guided by a synthesis of literature on school management, critical incident interviews were conducted with a sample of 10 school principals with good track records. The salience of the literature-derived competencies was established, and the content supplemented by contextualising the competencies with specific behavioural denotations from the interviews.

Main findings: Eleven key competencies emerged from the data: creating a school vision and setting strategic direction, setting goals and expectations, developing school staff, influencing and communicating, resourcing strategically, leading with compassion, maintaining a student-centred learning environment, making decisions, managing self, managing teaching and learning, and leading across school boundaries.

Managerial implications: The competencies identified provide a blueprint to guide human resource management interventions aimed at establishing effective school leadership.

Contribution: The study provides a rich source of information about critical school principal behaviours, explored from an integrated perspective that acknowledges the school context.


Keywords

school principal competencies; educational leadership; quality education; school transformation; school performance

JEL Codes

I25: Education and Economic Development; M12: Personnel Management • Executives; Executive Compensation

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

Metrics

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