Research has shown the importance of the inspiration and experience offered by senior educators in creating successful schools and enhancing the effective and efficient management of the teaching materials used in the school. Due to the diversity and complexity of school management, theorists, policymakers and practitioners acknowledge the crucial role of senior educators values and their influence on the management of schools and the communities. According to Murphy (2002:176) suggested that in searching for new foundations for understanding the role of the senior educator, three metaphors are used to describe him/her: the curriculum steward, the educator or teacher leader, and the community or school builder
For the purpose of this qualitative study, the focus was on exploring the experiences of senior educators in the quality assurance of head of departments teaching materials that are meant to meet the standards of quality education as outlined in the assessment framework policy documents. The researcher used the metaphor as one of the lenses through which to study the senior educators who are declared part of the School Management Team. The term senior educator emerged after the implementation of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD), which categorises serving educators in terms of their teaching experience as outlined in Resolution 5 of 2006 accepted by the Education Labour Relation Council (ELRC).
A qualitative study using an interpretive, qualitative multiple studies were applied to explore the experiences of senior educators when requested to evaluate and moderate the teaching materials of HODs in the primary school. The following themes were considered as part of the investigation: Restructuring of education; challenges experienced by senior educators; the roles of senior educators; educator leadership; inclusive management; and the distribution of responsibility among educators. By sharing the experiences of the senior educators as found in this study, the study could serve as a valuable resource and lead to similar studies that could enhance the sharing of leadership experiences of senior educators to establish successful schools that produce quality education. The roles of the senior educators include the moderation of the teaching materials used by fellow educators; quality assurance of the work of educators; class visits; monitoring, evaluation and support of other educators; and organisation of departmental meetings and school-based workshops of the subjects assigned to them by the management of the school.
Primary schools in South Africa experience problems when senior educators are to quality assure the teaching materials used by HODs, due to the fact that the latter may assume that the superior status of their position will shield them against criticism from senior educators. Even though these problems usually do not lead to a hostile relationship, they have an effect on the content depth of the curriculum taught to learners. The problems between senior educators and HODs emanate from their shared responsibility and accountability for curriculum management in relation to content depth; the alignment of the subject content taught with the curriculum pace setters; adherence to the assessment framework and pace setters; reporting to parents on the progress of learners, and communication with other stakeholders. All of these matters speak to the quality assurance of the work of educators in the school.