The instructional leadership role of primary school principals

Raj Mestry, Isavanie Moonsammy-Koopasammy, Michele Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores the instructional leadership (IL) role of primary school principals from the perspective of South African principals and their understanding of IL within their own context of schooling. Using semi-structured interviews with six school principals, this study found that most principals experience great difficulty in balancing their administrative responsibilities with their instructional responsibilities. However, the majority of the principals demonstrated innovative means of resolving challenges that blocked them from being leaders as learners. They remain mired between the old and new paradigms of instructional leadership, yet understand the impact instructional leadership can have even in incremental steps for creating learning communities and fostering the learning of their teachers, themselves and their students. The study shows that the traditional role of principals as managers has been expanded to instructional leaders. The manifestation of IL varied amongst the principals, continuing to evolve towards becoming shared instructional leadership and leader as learner. In order to promote their core responsibility of promoting effective teaching and learning, the principals needed to concentrate on being strategic about employing shared instructional leadership. This research has shown that the very essence of instructional leadership is to transform the school as an organisation into an environment where teachers and learners may reach their full potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S49-S64
JournalEducation as Change
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • instructional leadership
  • principal
  • school climate
  • staff development
  • vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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