With nineteen years of democracy behind us, South Africa has experienced uncountable changes within its borders and on various playing fields. One of the most memorable changes, in my opinion, was in education. This motivated me to embark on a study about the responses of Heads of Departments (HoDs) to curriculum changes. I especially wanted to focus on the management of those changes.
The focus on HoDs arose from the devolution of responsibility from the principal to the HoD with regard to curriculum change. This uninterrupted cycle of curriculum change that South Africa is experiencing occupies the HoDs to a large extent. They have to ensure that the changes take place as smoothly as possible with as little resistance as possible. In order to accomplish this, one would think that the HoD would be trained in managing a department and curriculum changes. This is unfortunately not the case, and they are following their own guidelines that they have constructed through trial and error.
This study was conducted through a narrative design within a qualitative framework, allowing me to give a voice to those who have none. It required me to have focus group interviews, which laid the foundation for my semi-structured interview. The use of documents assisted with the crystallisation of the data. This research was conducted in the Lady Frere district of the Eastern Cape. There were two sets of HoDs from different schools, and one participant willing to participate in a semi-structured interview.
The purpose of this study was to find out what guidelines HoDs had constructed by looking at HoDs’ responses to, and management of curriculum changes since 2005. It became very clear that there is some confusion about what is expected of the HoD during the change process and the HoDs in this study felt it better to follow traditional methods of teaching, as this was all they knew. However, the focus on producing quality education was very important to them.