Turnaround strategies at poor-performing secondary schools: Lessons from success cases in historically disadvantaged areas.

Prof Ike Xaba - Project leader.


Dr Velaphi Aaron Nhlapo


The purpose of this research project is to identify and explore turnaround strategies used at historically disadvantaged poor-performing secondary schools. The thrust of this study will be on identifying and gaining in-depth insight into and understanding the strategies relating to leadership (and will later be expanded to include governance, school physical and psychosocial safety and security environments, and parental-community involvement) that were effective in the turnaround of poor-performing secondary schools.

Promotion of Healthy School Environments (PHSE) in South Africa.































The impact of Organisational Development (OD) and Change Management (CM) on the Promotion of Healthy Physical School Environments

Prof Siphokazi Kwatubana - Project leader.

Year of Registration: 2017


Dr Mark Bosch (NWU Vaal), Dr L Sibanda (NUST, Zimbabwe), Dr M Mpofu (NUST, Zimbabwe)

Promoted Students:

Nomsa Moteete (MEd) graduated 2019, Melody Mtimkulu (PhD) in process, and Kenneth Mabunda (PhD) in process


This is an exploratory study that intends to understand how Healthy School Environments can be enhanced using an Organisational Development approach. The goals of the project include:

  • Identifying the challenges and opportunities in the initiatives of the school managers to promote healthy environments;

  • Engaging school managers, teachers, community members and government department representatives and district officials in a visioning process that will encourage their participation in, understanding of, and contribution to future goals to improve the PHSE; and

  • Empowering school managers to sustain improved school environments.

Project outputs:

Journal article/s:

Siphokazi Kwatubana 2017. The principals’ role in developing social capital for the promotion of healthy school environments. International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanity Studies, 9(2): 109-125.

Siphokazi Kwatubana 2018. Challenges in harmonizing efforts of educators and nurses in health promotion in public schools. Africa Education Review, 15(1): 108-122

Siphokazi Kwatubana. 2019. Key characteristics of headteachers for making a school a health-promoting one. Education and Health, 37(3): 71-78.

Siphokazi Kwatubana; Velaphi Nhlapo and Nomsa Moteetee 2021. The role of principals in schoolhealth promotion in South Africa: a qualitative study. Health Education, Published on line

Published Peer reviewed Conference Proceedings:

Siphokazi Kwatubana 2018. School managers’ capacity needs for leading collaborative implementation of health policies in 4 selected Gauteng Province schools. Paper presented in International Conference on Social Sciences (NWU), 28-31 August 2018, in George, Western Cape South Africa. ISBN 987-1-86822-688-7. Available:


Prof Siphokazi Kwatubana - Project leader.

Year of Registration: 2018


Dr V Nhlapo

Ethics Number: NWU-00354-18-S2

Project Outputs:


Siphokazi Kwatubana (under review) Health-promoting leadership in education: relevance for teachers in township schools. SAJE.

Siphokazi Kwatubana, and Velaphi Nhlapo 2020. Headteachers' most important task: changing mental models of teachers for effective health promotion initiatives. Education and Health, 38(1): 8-15.

Chapter in academic book/s:

Siphokazi Kwatubana 2020. Chapter 4- School health promotion coordinators’ perception of caring leadership provision by principals. In Wolhuter C (ed) Education Studies in South Africa: The Quest for Relevance, Rigour and Restructuring. AOSIS Pty limited, pp. 67-94.

The influence of school principal leadership styles, school governance structures, moral leadership and contextual determinants on a positive school climate.

Dr Leentjie van Jaarsveld - Project leader.

Year of registration: 2017


Prof C Wolhuter, Dr B Challens, Dr D Vos


The purpose of the project is to determine to which extent the social interdependence theory can contribute to improved interaction with the most appropriate leadership styles, moral leadership, the role of school management structures and contextual determinants in the establishment of the conducive school climate.


  • To explore the most appropriate leadership style for principals to establish a positive school climate;

  • To determine the role of the local school governance structures in the establishment of a positive school climate;

  • To determine the role of the school leaders in the promotion of acceptable moral conduct of learners; 

  • To determine which contextual determinants play a role in the establishment of a positive school climate

Understanding leadership for and during school change and development in challenging formerly deprived South African context.

Prof Jan Heystek - Project leader.

(NRF funded )

Duration: 2017 till 2019


Prof T Steyn (Unisa), Prof R Mestry (UJ), Prof V Chikok (UKZN), Dr TT Bengu (UKZN), Prof A Makura (CUT), Dr J Palmer (UFS), Dr M van Niekierk (NWU)


  • To develop a deeper understanding of the ability of school leaders to change academically underperforming schools into performing schools in diverse and deprived school communities; 

  • To determine the factors and reasons why school leaders are not able to change academically underperforming schools into performing schools in diverse and deprived school communities.  

International Study of Teacher Leadership (2019-2021).

Prof C Webber (Canada) - Project leader.


Dr CP van der Vyver, Dr Molly Fuller and Dr Jan Khumalo.


This study seeks to contribute to the wider understanding of teacher leadership and of how professional development and university programs might contribute to teacher leadership knowledge and skills development.

Project outputs:

Journal Article/s:

Van der Vyver, C.P., Fuller, M.P. & Khumalo, J.B. 2021. Teacher leadership in the South African Context: Areas, Attributes and Cultural responsiveness. Research in Educational Administration and Leadership, 6(1):128-162

Conference presentation/proceedings:

Van der Vyver, C.P & Van Niekerk, M.P. 2019. Teacher Leadership In South Africa: Understanding the Concept and Examining Its Potential Value For the Educational Context. Paper presented at the 14th International Congress on Educational administration, 2-4 May 2019, Çeşme, Izmir, Turkey.

Van Niekerk, M.P & Van der Vyver, C.P. 2019. A rationale for teacher leadership research in South Africa. International Research conference. Developing Educators for Leadership in schools. July 18-20, Calgary, Canada.

Van der Vyver C.P & Van Niekerk, M.P. 2020. Teacher Leadership: A Document Analysis from South Africa. Learning walkthrough poster presentation at ICSEI, 33rd International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement. Marrakech, Morokko. 6-10 January 2020.