Research indicates that postgraduate education leadership learning programmes do not make the kind of contribution to leadership practice that is required to make significant improvements to education. This study investigated and described the experiences and perceptions of master?s students of their own education leadership learning while enrolled in master?s degree programme in education leadership.
This instrumental case study adopted a qualitative approach from within an interpretivist-constructivist research paradigm, and was underpinned by the tenants of Engeström?s Activity Theory. The study found that although students reported a measure of transfer between theory and practice, both the content and instructional strategies of the programme that served as the activity system for the study failed to recognise the varying levels of leadership pre-knowledge and experience and the diversity of education leadership contexts within which students function.The study contributes to the body of knowledge of education leadership learning firstly by defining and describing the relationship between student pre-knowledge, experience and context and the application of the tenants of theories of learning such as andragogy during the development of education leadership learning programmes, secondly by identifying and describing the emergence of a secondary or incidental curriculum related to the students? exposure to and practice in the use of information communication technologies and thirdly by identifying and describing a number of challenges inherent in the use of a traditional master?s degree for the professional development of education leaders. In its recommendations, the study supports the implementation of a professional master?s degree programme and proposes a new model for the effective contextualisation of education leadership learning based on a case study and problem-solving approach to teaching and learning together with extensive use of the inverted or flipped classroom in order to facilitate education leadership learning that not only stems from within the diverse contexts within which the master?s students live and lead, but also is directed towards the contextualised leadership learning that these students require in order to be and become more effective education leaders within not only their own unique school and leadership context, but within the South African education system as a whole.