This qualitative study explores the school-based instructional leadership role of Heads of
Department (HODs) in the implementation of different History syllabi. It seeks to establish
the practices that History HODs carry out in order to improve the teaching and learning of
the subject. HODs are subject specialists who are responsible for establishing and ensuring
high standards of teaching and learning in their subjects. This study is a response to the
claim that History HODs often fail to rise to expectations in ensuring effective curriculum
implementation in the subject. Qualitative data was collected through the study of circulars
and policy documents and by conducting structured, in-depth interviews with fifteen key
informants sampled from selected schools in the Glen View/Mufakose district in Harare.
The key finding from this study is that the HODs were the de facto instructional leaders
during the implementation of the History syllabi and that their level of involvement
determines the success and/or failure of History syllabi. The paper concludes by asserting
that HODs play a critical role in the implementation of History syllabi, since they are at the
chalk face and directly supervise the implementation of changes in the subject as illustrated
at five secondary schools used in the study.