The Role Perceptions of Newly Appointed Senior School Leaders in the Western Cape, South Africa and Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates: A Comparative Case Study

Nelius Jansen van Vuuren


The role of the senior school leader, in school leadership teams, has been intensely deliberated over the years. Professional learning and leadership approaches and experiences for newly appointed senior school leaders have been extensively linked to the role perceptions of new school leaders. The importance of appropriate recommendations for policy and practice highlight the need for complex developmental support ingenuities to support their perceived development needs. Extensive teaching experience may be the only requirement for being appointed as a senior school leader, as also suggested by the Western Cape Education system (WCED). A developing system such as the Abu Dhabi Education  Council (ADEC) system, highly qualified individuals make up for a lack of experience. Both these perceptions support the notion that no further professional development is required for newly appointed school leaders, the problem addressed in this paper. This article report and compare the main findings of the perceived roles and responsibilities of newly appointed senior school leaders in the Western Cape, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The perceived roles and responsibilities of newly appointed school leaders, suggest a unique and specialist development approach to support effective leadership. The outcomes of this study further suggest a need for contextualised, individualised training and support in their individualised roles and responsibilities. The paper, therefore, employs a mixed-method approach to gather data to understand the perceived roles and responsibilities of newly appointed senior school leaders in the Western Cape, South Africa and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

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