The study investigated how principals discharge their responsibilities with regard to educator professional development and what factors, if any, assist or hinder principals in the execution of their responsibilities for educator professional development. The following research question informs this study: "What role do principals play in educator professional development in secondary schools in Gauteng Province?" The theoretical framework used in this study is that of human capital theory. In the words of Van Loo and Rocco (2004:99), human capital theory is "an economic approach to the evaluation of the costs and benefits of the investment in skills and knowledge", and in this regard, it implies investment in people themselves in education and training with a view to enhance economic productivity and competence, in this case, educational output.
The study followed a qualitative research design wherein data were collected through semi-structured interviews with principals and two educators in four secondary schools, two fee-paying and two no-fee paying schools, in Gauteng Province. The sampling method used was convenience sampling because of practical constraints, namely, time and costs, involved.
This study found that principals do play a role, though not appropriately, in educator professional development in secondary schools. In some schools, it was found that proper management of professional development programmes was non-existent, and this led to educators being not clearly sure of what role their principals play exactly in their professional development. Principals indicated that most professional development activities were carried out by the district offices. Some principals were not certain of what the scope of professional development entails and in this way, they were not quite sure where exactly development was required. It became evident that the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS), as a developmental tool, was reported not to be efficiently implemented in most schools in this study, and challenges faced were also attributed to poor management of the process by the Staff Development Team (SDT), including the principals.