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Occupational Certificate: School Principal (School Manager) 
101258  Occupational Certificate: School Principal (School Manager) 
Development Quality Partner - ETDP SETA 
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
Occupational Certificate  Field 05 - Education, Training and Development  Higher Education and Training 
Undefined  285  Not Applicable  NQF Level 06  Regular-ELOAC 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Reregistered" 
SAQA 06120/18  2018-07-01  2023-06-30 
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of this qualification is to prepare a learner to operate as a School Manager.

A School Manager leads, plans, develops and manages developed systems for effective and efficient delivery of quality education by ensuring the implementation and support of a values-driven ethos for quality teaching and learning.

A qualified learner will be able to:
  • Lead and manage teaching and learning in a school.
  • Plan and manage the resources of the school.
  • Establish, lead and manage the relationship between and the impact of the internal and external community for the development of the school.
  • Develop self and others through life-long learning to deliver quality teaching and learning.

    The Occupational Certificate: School Principal (School Manager) has been designed to develop the much needed applied competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and practices) which give effect to the Standards for Principalship. A qualification that will focus on developing principals and to assess enrolled learners in real contexts is vital to ensuring that they acquire real skills and capabilities to lead and sustain the major changes required in schools. There have been many changes introduced to schools including curriculum and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), all of these have targeted educators and not management. In the South African context, there are far too many schools that are not meeting even the minimum requirements for learner attainment. There is growing evidence of school dysfunctionality which requires improved management and leadership as important for school reform. South Africa needs highly qualified principals who can create not only an environment for effective teaching and learning, but also who can promote the school in the community as an institution of learning excellence.

    Most existing school management and education development programmes are workshops, short courses, or qualifications based on academic achievement with very little opportunity for practice and almost no on-site learning. This qualification will provide an opportunity for learners to acquire work-based learning and enhanced professionalism. The latter is vital for school management and leadership resulting in improved teaching and learning to meet the current learning challenges in the ever-changing environment.

    The scope of this qualification is intended for current and aspiring principals. It also seeks to increase qualifying learners with employment prospects within the education sector at school, district, provincial and national levels.

    This qualification was developed with the full participation of major stakeholders; Department of Basic Education (DBE) (National and Provincial), Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Independent Schools, Unions, South African Council for Educators (SACE), South African Principals Association (SAPA), and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

    Education is an essential component of economic development in the world and career success in a global society and depends on a relevant education. Therefore quality education and training is required for school principals to, firstly, close the gap between learners from diverse backgrounds and secondly, to empower learners who will play a meaningful and productive role in the ever-changing and demanding national and global society. 

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
    RPL for access to the external integrated summative assessment: Accredited providers and approved workplaces must apply the internal assessment criteria specified in the related curriculum document to establish and confirm prior learning. Accredited providers and workplaces must confirm prior learning by issuing a statement of result or certifying a work experience record.

    RPL for access to the qualification: Accredited providers and approved workplaces may recognise prior learning against the relevant access requirements.

    Entry Requirements:
  • Teacher's qualification with a minimum three (3) years managerial experience in the education and training environment. 


    This qualification is made up of the following compulsory Knowledge and Practical Skill Modules:
    Knowledge Modules:
  • 134501001-KM-01, Introduction to education leadership, management and administration in a changing education landscape, Level 7, 8 Credits.
  • 134501001-KM-02, Curriculum management and adaptation for holistic development of learners, Level 6, 12 Credits.
  • 134501001-KM-03, Human resources development, empowerment and support of all school communities, Level 6, 10 Credits.
  • 134501001-KM-04, Financial and Asset Management, Level 5, 15 Credits.
  • 134501001-KM-05, Institutional management and administration, Level 5, 8 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Knowledge Modules: 53.

    Practical Skill Modules:
  • 134501001-PM-01, Lead and manage the development of a school strategic plan, Level 7, 12 Credits.
  • 134501001-PM-02, Lead and manage teaching and learning, Level 6, 20 Credits.
  • 134501001-PM-03, Manage and use data to improve learner achievements, Level 5, 6 Credits.
  • 134501001-PM-04, Lead and manage continuous improvement of curriculum delivery, Level 6, 12 Credits.
  • 134501001-PM-05, Lead and manage the financial management processes in the school, Level 6, 15 Credits.
  • 134501001-PM-06, Control and maintain the use of school assets, Level 6, 8 Credits.
  • 134501001-PM-07, Manage and develop human resources in the school, Level 6, 15 Credits.
  • 134501001-PM-08, Establish effective stakeholder engagement systems and practices, Level 6, 8 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Practical Skill Modules: 96.

    This qualification also requires the following Work Experience Modules:
  • 134501001-WM-01, Strategic planning processes and procedures, Level 7, 20 Credits.
  • 134501001-WM-02, Processes and procedures for effective curriculum delivery, Level 6, 40 Credits.
  • 134501001-WM-03, Financial management processes and procedures, Level 6, 30 Credits.
  • 134501001-WM-04, Supply chain management processes and procedures, Level 5, 8 Credits.
  • 134501001-WM-05, Asset management processes and procedures, Level 5, 8 Credits.
  • 134501001-WM-06, Human resources development and management processes and procedures, Level 5, 20 Credits.
  • 134501001-WM-07, Processes and procedures for stakeholder engagement, Level 5, 10 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Work Experience Modules: 136. 

    1. Lead, manage and monitor the development and implementation of a school development plan, effective systems and strategies using available data to improve the curriculum delivery.
    2. Plan, manage and maintain the financial, human and physical resources of the school.
    3. Establish and promote stakeholder relationships and their impact on the development of the school.
    4. Lead and manage professional development of self and others through life-long learning to deliver quality teaching and learning. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Critically analyse and review a School Development Plan to identify gaps in order to make recommendations for improvement.
  • Using a case scenario, reflect on the teaching methodologies and make decisions on possible interventions required to improve teaching and learning.
  • Given the available data, reflect on various assessment strategies and make decisions on possible interventions required to improve teaching and learning using the different methods including technology.
  • The critical aspects for each quarter are discussed to determine the school readiness in own work context.
  • The critical aspects that inform the School Development Plan are identified and analysed to ensure school improvement in own school context.
  • A management plan for the School Management Team (SMT) is developed to monitor, evaluate and support curriculum delivery.
  • Evaluate a given monitoring tool to identify the critical aspects captured in order to make recommendations for improvement.
  • Strategies and activities to inculcate values and positive attitudes are implemented into own school culture.
  • A meeting is planned, scheduled and conducted to instil a positive learning environment using different methods including technology.
  • Develop at least three (3) progress reports on learner performance and develop and communicate school improvements to relevant stakeholders.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • The budgeting process within the school environment is discussed in respect of the roles and responsibilities of the role-players.
  • Reflect on the revenue collection in a school and discuss how to ensure ethical, equitable and just implementation of the set formulae within own school context.
  • Identify and interpret the legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks applicable to financial management.
  • Deviations and non-conformances are identified through monitoring the budgeting implementation process to take the relevant corrective action.
  • Various financial systems for cost containment and mismanagement are identified and discussed for accountability.
  • The core areas and processes of a school budget are identified and explained with reference to transparency measures for reporting at the Annual General Meeting.
  • Conduct a comparative study of the five quintiles and its implications on budgeting.
  • Evaluate the supply-chain management process and procedures for compliance in relation to the acquisition of goods and services.
  • Explain the process and procedures for the compilation of staff profiles for the deployment of staff in accordance with the expertise and curriculum needs.
  • Discuss recruitment of staff with respect to needs, equity and explain the process of recommendation of the appointment of staff in compliance with the relevant legislation.
  • An inventory of all supplies, materials and equipment is monitored using an asset register including technology to ensure accountability of asset utilisation.
  • The operational condition of the available infrastructure and equipment is regularly assessed to identify problem areas to be maintained to ensure optimal use.
  • Infrastructure and school records are maintained for accurate reporting.
  • Apply legislative and policy requirements to maintain a safe, secure and healthy environment in a school.
  • Given a case scenario, identify the risks, problems, conflicts and ethical issues within the scenario and suggest solutions in handling the matters.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Strategies for relationship building with internal and external stakeholders are identified and discussed to achieve the goals and objectives of the school.
  • Various structures and systems for effective liaison, consultation, communication and empowerment with key stakeholders are evaluated and reviewed to ensure sustainable partnership.
  • Stakeholder analysis and a mapping tool is designed and developed for a meaningful stakeholder engagement for the improvement of the school activities.
  • A Risk assessment is carried out and a strategy is developed to overcome potential risks associated with stakeholder engagement process for reporting purposes.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 4:
  • The professional development needs of all staff arising from the performance management systems, policy on the South African Standard for Principalship, Continuing Professional Teachers Development (CPTD) and system's needs and priorities are assessed to develop individual professional development plans.
  • Own leadership and management styles and skills are evaluated in order to identify gaps so as to develop professional development goals for personal growth.
  • Self-reflection with regard to commitment, accountability and values-driven ownership as per the Standard for Principalship is conducted for a positive change within the school's progress and ethos.

    Integrated Assessment:
    Integrated Formative Assessment:
    The skills development provider will use the curriculum to guide them on the stipulated internal assessment criteria and weighting. They will also apply the scope of practical skills and applied knowledge as stipulated by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment leads to entrance into the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated Summative Assessment:
    An external integrated summative assessment, conducted through the relevant Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) Assessment Quality Partner is required for the issuing of this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment will focus on the exit level outcomes and associated assessment criteria. 

    Research was conducted to benchmark best practice and gather evidence of similar qualifications registered on the national qualifications frameworks and offered by accredited institutions in other countries to be considered during the development process. The countries researched included Scotland, Australia, and the United States of America. The countries were selected due to the fact that their education and training programmes targeting school principals are based on clearly determined Standards for Principalship, an approach that is similar to South Africa which defines the leadership and management capabilities of school principals including the professional actions required of effective school principals as they are required to work within a broad range of accountabilities to achieve the goals and serve the needs and interests of schools, in general acknowledging the changing context in which they operate and taking into account the many challenges they face. In both the United States of America and Scotland, aspiring school principals must satisfy the set criteria in line with the Professional Standards Education Board, United States of America (USA) for Principalship or Headship.

    In Scotland, the Scottish Qualification for Headship originated in 1997 and became fully operational in 2000 following a commitment to develop a mandatory pre-appointment head teacher qualification. The Scottish Standard-for-Headship focusses on the following key areas or practices:
  • Leading and managing teaching and learning in schools.
  • Leading and developing people.
  • Lead change and improvement.
  • Use resources effectively.
  • Build communities.
  • Accreditation body responsible for the accreditation for headship qualifications.

    United States of America:
    In the United States of America, the majority of states require school principals to have a school administrator licence and therefore all elementary school principals must be licensed by the state where they will be employed. Principals, just like teachers, usually take continuing education courses to stay current with teaching and administrative requirements. Continuing education requirements vary from state to state, but usually involve taking courses online or attending seminars on current topics within education.

    School principal education and training is shaped in different ways by many role-players. The Wallace Foundation, for example, is a national philanthropy that has funded projects and supported efforts to improve leadership in public schools and funded projects in numerous school districts in 28 states. Since 2000, Wallace has issued more than 70 research reports and other publications covering school leadership, on topics ranging from how principals are trained to how they are evaluated on the job. The foundation has identified the following five key practices that effective principals do, which to a greater extent, tie in with the Standards for Principalship (South African) and Standard-for-Headship (Scotland). These practices include:
  • Shaping a vision of academic success for all students.
  • Creating a climate hospitable to education.
  • Cultivating leadership in others.
  • Improving instruction.
  • Managing people, data and processes to foster school improvement.

    In South Africa, the Department of Basic Education has developed a Standard-for-Principalship that seeks to enhance the professional image and competencies of school principals. The Standard identifies the following key areas constituting the core purpose of the principal:
  • Leading and managing teaching and learning in schools.
  • Shaping the direction and development of the school.
  • Managing quality and securing accountability.
  • Developing and empowering others.
  • Managing the school as an organisation.
  • Working with and for the community.
  • Managing human resources in the school.
  • Managing and advocating extra-mural activities.

    These standards or practices from the three countries studied indicate some commonalities in approach to create effective principals in schools and thus form the training programmes targeting existing and aspiring principals.

    Courses offered in Scotland:
    In the United Kingdom, Scotland in particular, the Scottish government has announced its intention to make it a requirement for all teachers appointed to their first Head Teacher post from session 2018/19 to hold a qualification based on the Standard-for-Headship. The learners will be able to meet the Standard-for-Headship at different levels, namely, Masters (180 Credits); Postgraduate Diploma (120 Credits) and Postgraduate Certificate (60 Credits).

    The programmes are delivered by the Western Consortium consisting of 20 partner institutions (local authorities) and approved institutions of higher education. The initial pilot for the Scottish Qualification for Headship was instigated in 1998 by the Glasgow City Council working in partnership with three universities, namely, Glasgow, Stirling and Strathclyde Universities. The General Teaching Council for Scotland is now the accreditation body.

    The qualifications, aimed at developing skills, knowledge and the confidence required to effectively lead and manage the school, offered for the duration of 12-18 months on a part-time basis, which target aspiring school principals or head teachers and which incorporate the Standard-for-Headship, compare favourably with this qualification. Access to the qualifications is open to teachers who have at least five years' teaching experience and who are registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland. The delivery approaches include taught-based learning (face-to-face) or distance-learning mode. A major element of the course is the candidate's work-based learning project which is carried out in their school over an 18 month period.

    United States of America, Washington State:
    Many states offer a wide range of school principal certification programmes, ranging from certification training programmes to Master's Degrees, although the majority are graduate certificate programmes. The curriculum of each programme includes an internship. Admission to a few of the programmes requires job experience in a directly-related role.

    NYC Leadership Academy: Aspiring Principals Programme (APP):
    The NYC Leadership Academy has developed a standards-based leadership development programme designed to prepare aspiring and existing principals to lead instructional improvement efforts in New York City's high-need public schools. The programme uses the Leadership Performance Standards Matrix providing standards which outline the skills, knowledge, and competencies that aspiring principals need in order to be effective school leaders. The programme has three distinct phases: a six-week phase that engages participants in a problem-based, action-learning curriculum that simulates the actual challenges of a New York City Principalship; a 14-month, school-based residency under the mentorship of an experienced principal and a planning phase that enables participants to transition successfully into school leadership positions. The programme helps aspiring leaders become the change agents who can inspire teachers and foster educational equity.

    The content of the programme includes:
  • Learning and Teaching.
  • School Culture.
  • Aligning Staff.
  • Systems and Operations.
  • Personal Leadership.
  • Curriculum and Instruction.
  • Supervision of Instruction.
  • Orientation/Analysis of Data.
  • The Social Context of Schooling.
  • Standards, Curriculum and Assessments.
  • Managing the school vision: Systems.
  • Thinking and Resource Allocation.
  • Building Vision: Capacity Building.
  • Administration.
  • Transition into leadership.

    The findings of the study indicate that there are international training programmes in building good and effective school leadership. The study also focussed on the content and the nature of the training programmes including the duration of the training to determine similarities and significant differences. This qualification is significantly comparable with the training programmes offered in Scotland and USA in terms of the curriculum structure and content. However, the South African qualification is unique in that the content is more detailed and structured, based on the curriculum model which integrates education, training and workplace practice offering learners an opportunity to achieve the occupational competence required based on the three learning modes. There were no major differences found. 

    This qualification articulates horizontally to:
  • Advanced Certificate: Education: School Management and Leadership, Level 6.
  • Advanced Certificate: Education, Level 6.

    This qualification articulates vertically to:
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Management and Leadership, Level 7. 





    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.