Social capital is prominent and available in many schools, but it would appear that it’s not always accessed or used to the benefit of the school. If a school is regarded as an effective school, where social capital is in abundance, one might ask why social capital is not used more commonly in other schools and how can what these successful schools do, be emulated by those schools who are not regarded as successful?
Many principals are unaware of social capital and the value it can contribute towards the management of their schools. Therefore principals should be made aware of social capital and the role it can play in a school as institution. In this study I have set out to investigate how a school in the Limpopo province which is regarded as a successful school, access and use social capital. In this case study I have purposively selected key role players as informants. This included teachers, school governing body members, learners and other members of the community identified as gatekeepers. In-depth interviewing was conducted with the informants and data was collected and analysed to determine how the school has accessed and used social capital.
The findings of the study indicated that parents, teachers, learners and community members can be involved at a school, through the use of social capital, to make a school successful when:
Ø The principal is a strong, passionate leader
Ø A value system is introduced
Ø An Inter-high athletics event, with good performances on the athletic track and field is hosted successfully
Ø A religious day of prayer on the sports field is held annually
The significance of these findings for practice is that we live in a constantly changing and uncertain educational climate, and therefore, schools and school communities in South Africa should take hands, trust one another and look into ways that could benefit the community as a whole. The access, mobilisation and use of social capital transformed the school where the research was conducted, from being average to being outstanding and excellent with a culture where trust and working together is the norm.