South Africa has gone through many recent changes and the impact of these changes was, especially, experienced in the development of the South African Education system. Social Sciences is one of the subjects that was introduced in the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS) for Grades R-9 (Department of Education, 2002). Before the National Curriculum Statement, History and Geography were taught as separate subjects under Social Studies but later combined into one subject, Social Sciences. Teachers in some South African schools are specialist in one of the two disciplines, either History or Geography. The intention of this study was derived from many of the researcher?s personal observations, experiences and challenges in the discipline, Social Sciences.
This study identified the challenges experienced by heads of department (HoDs) of Social Sciences and the strategies they use to address the identified challenges. The research approach was qualitative and a case study research design was used. The research participants were identified, using a purposeful sampling strategy. Participants were selected from four schools, two from Quintile 1 (no fee-paying) schools and two from Quintile 5 (fee-paying) schools; each school had an enrolment of more than 350 learners. The participants were HoDs responsible for Social Sciences and teachers who were teaching the subject. Furthermore, HoDs who were selected had had experience of managing Social Science teachers for a period of not less than three years. The teachers also had more than three years? experience of teaching Social Sciences.
The findings of this study revealed that the responsibilities of HoDs for Social Sciences seem to focus more on monitoring the work of teachers than developing their effectiveness in teaching the subject. Some of the HoD appointed in the Social Sciences Department did not have the background knowledge and skills related to the subject which limited their ability to guide, advise and develop their teachers in the subject. It was found that HoDs and teachers expect subject specialists and curriculum advisors to be more involved in developing teachers? competency in teaching the subject. It seems that there is a desire for a formal policy for the professional development of teachers of Social Sciences.