School Governance

Module on School Management 

 Supervision and support services to teachers:

Supervision of activities at the school level is a key factor in ensuring the good functioning of the primary education programme.Theoretically, supervision has two basic functions which directly impinge on school functioning. First,supervision should help ‘maintain system-level norms’. This is important as primary schools are the basic units of a larger system.While each school may have its own uniqueness and individuality,together they have to follow certain common patterns of organization and functioning. Secondly, supervision should ‘promote change and development’ of ever y school. While this two-fold definition is accepted in theory, the actual functioning of the supervision system often presents a one-sided picture of control and monitoring, with practically no support for change and improvement.

Traditionally, school supervision is focused on teachers and their performance, on the one hand, and administrative efficiency of the primary school, on the other. But a supervisor has to ensure that the quality of learning and development of every child in the school is supervised. A second basic premise of the system of supervision  is,control without support will not lead to quality improvement. The third principle is that monitoring as well as support to primary-school teachers should be non-hierarchical and participatory in nature.

It is considered that fleeting visits and casual observations of teaching will not help in improving quality. Supervision has to be a participatory process in which the supervisor directly gets involved in classroom teaching work. Through this approach, the supervisor will be able to gain a more authentic view of the instructional process and be more realistic in proposing change and improvement in the functioning of the teachers. Also, this makes the accountability for the progress of the children a shared concern among teachers and the supervisor.


The model of supervision demands that every supervisor plays a multifold role. Supervisors can no longer remain outsiders to the school or to the community, visiting the school only occasionally and advising or disciplining the teacher. They are fully responsible for the quality of functioning of the school. GSS expects them to play six major roles and functions, namely:

• as headteacher

• as a classroom teacher

• as guide and counsellor to the teacher

• as link between the school, the community and GSS management

• as key organizer of school functioning

• as administrator and academic planner.


B.Defining the Parameters of School Governance



The success of every school depends on the way it is managed. The need for the efficient management of schools has placed much more emphasis on the nature and quality of the work of the head as the leader of a team of professional educators, and as the manager of the supply and effective use of resources (human, financial and material). The head therefore needs to gain clear understanding of all the forces and factors which contribute towards governance of the school.

The head, even as the chief executive of the school, does not act alone or on his own authority, but rather carries out his assignments within the context of laws, regulations, administrative instructions and directives originating from the government, which, as the representative of the people, has the original authority to determine the type of education a country should provide for its citizens.

Schools, whether public or private institutions, also have a number of stake-holders in their activities. Their governance is therefore done through a coalition of interests working together, but performing different functions, all aimed at enabling each school to operate and to achieve its aims and objectives. The head, who as the chief executive is responsible for directing and overseeing the day to day activities of the school, must know what agencies, groups and individuals, constitute this coalition of interests.

Again, it is important to realise that governments exercise their responsibility for providing education for their people through their Ministries of Education and other bodies and authorities at the regional, state or provincial and district levels. These different bodies, units and agencies all have a part to play in the governance of schools.

The school community itself, comprising the staff and pupils, constitutes the immediate group of people with whom the head is in constant touch. For efficient, effective and democratic management of a school, these members of the immediate community must participate in its administration. Thus, the staff and pupils of each school bear a part in its governance through various mechanisms.

Furthermore, the influence of the larger community in which the school is situated, is becoming increasingly important in the way a school is operated. This larger community is itself made up of different components, such as employers, religious and traditional leaders, and these groups in their different ways may play important parts in supporting the school. They therefore should bear a part in the governance of the school.

School policies and regulations

Every school needs to have its own set of policies and regulations. You will already have regulations, or rules, governing the behaviour of pupils and procedures for setting standards of discipline, but do you explain the rationale or purpose of these in a school policy statement? Schools require policies in many areas for example, with regard to:
• homework
• pupils with learning difficulties
• assessment and promotion between classes
• reporting pupils' progress to parents
• co-curricular activities
• language in and across the curriculum.

D.The norm-setting role of the Ministry of Education

The list you have produced may include:
• the nature and type of physical facilities your school has such as classrooms, furniture, etc.
• the type of equipment in use in your school
• the curriculum components and content by course and by level
• your personnel, i.e. the types and number of teaching and non-teaching staff
• the management of your school finances.

The functions of the Ministry of Education at the national headquarters level with regard to school governance are mainly normative, that is, they establish norms or standards for the operation of schools.

By defining principles, setting standards and establishing guidelines for the operation of schools, the Ministry of Education is able to direct the educational system towards the national goals. This norm-setting role is often also described as strategic management.

E.Partners in School Management

To ensure effective and successful management, the school head must not only be innovative, resourceful and dynamic, but also able to interact well with people both within and outside the school - staff and pupils, parents, members of the Parent-Teacher Association and many other members of the community - all of whom need to be brought, in some way or other, into decision-making processes.

The more opportunities are given to members of your staff to participate in school management, the greater is likely to be their sense of commitment and ownership of school programmes.

Some of the ways in which pupils are involved in decision-making and the management of the school are through:
• the prefectorial system
• the monitorial system
• class captains.

The prefectorial system

The prefectorial system, which is as old as the formal school system itself, is perhaps the most potent tool for pupil participation in school management.

The head must ensure that there is an active prefects' council not only to serve as a link between the pupil body and the school management, but also to perform specific functions. The common prefectorial positions include house and dining hall prefects (in boarding schools), an entertainment prefect, a sports and games prefect, a library prefect, a dispensary prefect, etc.

The monitorial system
The monitorial system is a device to provide support for the prefectorial system, and it is especially useful in boarding schools. Monitors may be appointed to perform specific duties in the boarding houses, to serve as dormitory overseers or to assist house prefects in the organisation of games and sports at house level, or the supervision of activities in areas like gardening and environmental protection.

Class captains

Class captains (sometimes designated class prefects) are usually appointed to help the school management ensure class attendance and set standards of behaviour. They may make reports to the appropriate school authority on non-attendance at classes by both staff and pupils. They may also ensure the availability of teaching materials especially chalk, and supervise cleaning duties.

Other areas of pupil participation

Pupil participation in decision-making is also desirable in the field of co-curricular activities; in the organisation of clubs and societies. Although members of staff need to be appointed to serve as patrons of clubs, societies and associations in the school, as far as possible their day-to-day organisation should be left in the hands of the pupils themselves, with their own leaders and officers to liaise with the patrons for guidance.

F. School and community relations


One of the ingredients for effective school governance is good public relations. In effect, school management involves relationships and communication with the community, since the school is a community within the larger community (the village and district), and the wider society (province, state and nation).

The concept of a community-based school has been variously interpreted. To some, it means the provision by the community of the land and buildings, or of support services and items that directly or indirectly enhance the teaching/learning process and which may be otherwise unavailable or in short supply; others see in it an opportunity to gain control of the management of a school; whilst others see it as a means of utilising the resources of the school to the full, for the benefit of all those within the community. Thus community relations can be very complex depending on whether you see the community as giving resources, using resources or controlling resources.

The concept of community

The word community may refer to a group of people living in one place or locality such as a village or town, or it may refer to a group of persons having the same or similar interests.

Thus, we may have a church or religious sect community; a racial or ethnic community; an occupational or professional group such as a university community or a fishing community, or a social or common interest group such as a Society for the Blind, a Parent-Teacher Association,or a Past Students' Association.

Communities are naturally interested in their own well-being and survival, and so have a keen interest in their offspring or new recruits. Hence, they attempt to hand on the knowledge, values and skills which are special to their group. The school is the main institution for the transmission and acquisition of the knowledge, values and skills, and thus it might be regarded as the most important asset of any community. Thus it is quite natural that we should expect close links between schools and their communities.


The community groups and organisations which often have close links with schools and which contribute to their progress include:
• Parent-Teacher Associations
• Past Students' Associations
• Professional or Teachers' Associations
• local community groups such as Town Development Committees or welfare societies
• religious bodies.

G. Staf appraisal


Appraisal is directed towards helping a teacher to become as effective as possible in the teaching/learning process, and also towards meeting a teacher's needs for professional development, for example, in-service training and career prospects. You should not, therefore, view appraisal as a mechanism for fault-finding and criticising, but as a means of building the teacher's positive self-image and motivation to be as good a teacher as possible. In Namibia, as in much of Africa, education is becoming more learner-centred than previously, on the basis that pupils need to become actively involved in their own learning processes, in order to learn and develop to the full. Pupils, and teachers too, need to participate in their own development, becoming able to analyse and reflect on their own competencies. From this, they are more likely to become independent thinkers and doers. For the majority of teachers, this requires a change of attitude, and this can only come from a willingness to review continually what takes place in the classroom and the school, and the effects particular actions have on others.


The process of staff appraisal

There are a number of steps to be taken in carrying out staff appraisal. Before these can begin, you need to have discussions with the staff as a whole. Teachers need to be confident that they can be open with you so that if they feel the management style is faulty, they can say this in the knowledge that you and other members of the management team will review your own style.

A second important element is to emphasise that what is said during the process of appraisal will be treated as confidential. A teacher who reveals personal insecurity or details of an unhappy domestic life during discussion, needs to feel sure that this will not become common knowledge in the staff room or community. Professional ambitions, too, have a right to be kept private. Appraisal should not be used as a means of making comparisons between one teacher and another.

Establishing a good atmosphere

In the first stage of discussion with staff concerning appraisal, you will need to make clear the purpose, and how it is to be done. The actual procedures should be discussed, and staff ideas taken into account. A timetable needs to be drawn up, so that each teacher has time to prepare his or her own thoughts, knowing when you will carry out observations within specific classrooms, and when interviews will be held. Follow-up procedures should be discussed, in which actions will be initiated, for example, planning for in-service training. You, or the senior staff member to whom you have delegated the task or designated senior staff, should prepare for the whole process by analysing your attitudes to leadership, as in the following activity.

What are your attitudes to leadership? Tick either (a) or (b) in each statement.
(1) Leadership should be
(a) supervisory (b) a matter of professional development.
(2) When observing teachers' lessons I look for
(a) incompetence (b) competence.
(3) Management in a school should be
(a) hierarchical (b) professional partnership.
(4) My attitude to leadership is
(a) looking at the past (b) looking to the future.
(5) Attitudes to staff should be based on
(a) suspicion (b) trust.


The teacher's own assessment

The process begins with the teacher's own personal review of successes, failures, professional and personal needs. One method that is often used is to keep a diary to record thoughts about the daily activities of the classroom. A teacher's everyday life is normally so busy that, unless time is set aside for this, the important activity of reflection gets set aside. A teacher might write as follows:

'Today, I began to feel that teaching the whole class together in Mathematics left some children bored. The clever ones finish their work very quickly, and get it right, and then misbehave, while some of the others were so slow and did not seem to understand. I would like to organise them in groups but am not sure how to do it. How will I make sure that all the class is getting on with their work if I do not have them all facing the blackboard?

Classroom/task observations

As a good school head, you probably visit classrooms on a regular basis. You have found that this helps you to be knowledgeable about what is happening in the school. Classroom/task observations in staff appraisal may well be already part of the school's routine. For the purpose of staff appraisal, you need to arrange a time to observe a specific lesson. You should be present in the classroom for the whole period to observe the entire sequence of the lesson. Only then can you form your ideas about the preparation, organisation and management of teaching and learning in the classroom.


The questions which follow may be helpful in providing a structure for class observations.

1 Is the classroom clean and would a pupil find it a pleasant place to be in?
2 Does the teacher begin the lesson on time?
3 Has the lesson been well prepared and does it match with the syllabus or scheme of work?
4 Are all materials shown in the lesson plan available to the pupils?
5 Is the relationship between teacher and pupils good or bad?
6 Do pupils listen when the teacher speaks, and do they appear to respect the teacher without seeming afraid?
7 Does the organisation and management (whole class work, group work, individual activity, practical activity, etc.) meet the needs of the pupils and the subject area?

Your responses to these questions will provide you with important information concerning the teacher's ability to provide learners with good quality teaching. If you observe poor preparation or interaction with pupils, these may indicate that the teacher has other problems. These may concern discipline or complaints from parents or community, for example, about lateness or possible alcohol abuse. Such information provides other data that needs to be discussed in the appraisal interview.

Appraisal interview and target setting

This should take place as soon as possible after the classroom observations, so you and the teacher need to make an appointment to meet. The form and length of the interview can vary, but there should be discussion of the classroom observations. Since the purpose is to assist the teacher's professional development and the learning experiences for the children, the approach should be positive. Praise should be given for as much as possible, for example, 'I noticed how busy you were trying to keep the clever ones occupied whilst the slow ones were finishing their work'. The aim is to build the teacher's confidence and self esteem because, through this, the teacher is more likely to discuss uncertainties about his or her work. In the example of the diary quoted earlier, you and the teacher may then go on to discuss ways of grouping pupils to provide for different ability levels.

From the discussion in the interview, targets can be set. You can arrange for help to be offered within the school, or for other in-service training. You can encourage the teacher to try out other methods of working, with the assurance that there will be full support during a time of change. Managing change can be stressful for a teacher, because of a fear of failure and many people prefer not to take risks.

Some avoidance behaviour, for example, lateness, absenteeism or alcohol abuse, can stem from feelings of inadequacy. The teacher whose lesson is badly prepared, can be asked if he or she thinks that the lesson would have been better if he or she had not been late or drunk. This opens up the subject, but in a positive spirit, which is more likely to lead to full and frank discussion of the teacher's professional responsibilities. Here, targets can be set which must be realistic, and any improvement should be commented on, for example, 'You were only late one day this week. Keep trying, the teaching was much better'. In this way, the teacher's morale can be raised and, for some, can be sufficient to bring about real improvement.

Follow-up discussion/meetings

An important point about the appraisal process is that it should be an on-going process. In-service training arrangements may be initiated, discussion of improvements in teaching and learning in the classroom may take place, or a teacher may need to be encouraged to seek promotion. All such activities are part of your professional responsibilities as educational leader in the school. In the large school, part of this task will be shared by senior staff.

H. Staff Supervision and Discipline



Schools fulfill their educational responsibilities most effectively when there is a consensus about common goals and all concerned work towards reaching these. This is the ideal that you will be working towards. You will be most successful if your staff respect you as a professional who sets an example of conduct, and who is reasonable and considerate of others. 'Do as you would be done by' is a very good principle to work by. If you do not like to be criticised publicly, neither do others, but most of us are happy to be praised in front of others. We react positively to praise, we feel good about ourselves and the person giving the praise, and most human beings respond by repeating the type of behaviour which earns the reward of praise. School heads occupy a high status in their schools, and there is much research which shows that high status persons are effective sources of reward.

The head's responsibilities as leader

You, as the school head, are the person responsible for the efficient management of the school. You are both the administrative leader and the educational leader, but these leadership roles have one function only. This function is to ensure that successful learning takes place for all the pupils in the school.

You cannot teach all the pupils yourself, nor can you carry out all the educational or administrative tasks. These have to be delegated to teaching or non-teaching staff, depending on the nature of the task. However, the responsibility for everything which takes place in the school remains with you as school head. Therefore, it is necessary for you to ensure that tasks are carried out efficiently, that staff behave in a professional manner towards each other and the pupils, and that there is accountability towards the pupils, the parents, community and wider society.

The need for supervision

Because the learning and all the activities of the school remain your responsibility, you need to ensure that delegated tasks are actually carried out on time, and in a proper manner. Therefore, you need to supervise, to oversee, the work of others in the school. Through meeting your senior management, individually or in groups, you will get feedback on the administrative functioning of the school, including curriculum implementation and development. By being active within the school, by visiting classes, talking to teachers, pupils and parents, you keep yourself informed about the school community, its people and events. Problems can often be prevented, simply because the school head keeps, as they say, his or her 'ear to the ground'. At the same time, you are setting a good example to others of self-discipline.

nctioning of a society. A school is also a society on a small scale, and discipline within school serves the purpose of ensuring that learning can take place. Within this, the rights of the individual and of all members of the school society are protected. In most schools, a set of rules which act as a code of conduct, is drawn up for pupils to conform to. Such rules should be as few as possible, and should be reasonable. Pupils should be involved in drawing up school rules.

In the case of rules for teaching staff, they should be drawn up and agreed by the staff as far as is possible. In doing this, you will want to involve the teacher unions so that there is full co-operation. Staff meetings can include on the agenda items designed to help teachers find positive ways to deal with school matters. In countries where corporal punishment is banned or is discouraged, such discussions can be helpful to teachers seeking to establish their authority in positive ways.

Exercising responsibility

In an ideal world, you would be able to trust all staff to carry out their designated responsibilities in teaching, administration or in care of the pupils, without supervision. For good teachers who are positively motivated, your trust will be justified. Such teachers arrive in good time before the start of school, they are absent only with good cause, their lessons are well prepared, they treat pupils with respect for them as persons, yet are firm and clear in giving instructions or information. However, not all teachers are as good as this. A few are lazy, some have personal problems, some are weak teachers and a very small number are immoral. Of these, some will improve with encouragement and support, others with sympathy and understanding, but you may need to take disciplinary action with the idle, incompetent or teacher with a bad character. Your reactions will depend on your perception of the teacher and the problem.

I. Managing Meetings


School heads should see themselves as managers and should use their resources (people, money, property and time) effectively and efficiently to ensure that the school is and stays productive and profitable from an educational perspective.

Meetings are an essential practical aspect of running a school. Used as management tools they can be very beneficial but all too often they do not achieve the results intended. Holding effective meetings does not depend on intuition and good fortune but on effective management skills.

Attitudes to meetings

The success of every meeting depends on the co-operation and support the chairperson receives from the participants. The chairperson should thus be fully aware of people's attitudes to meetings.

Amongst the many reasons people have for not liking meetings, the following have been found to be the most common:

Poor leadership: The leader does not keep the discussion on the subject and so fails to keep things moving in the appropriate direction and to engage in those aspects of the discussion that are stimulating and motivating to the members.

Goals are unclear: Members are not really sure what they are trying to accomplish.

Lack of commitment: Assignments are not taken seriously by committee members.

No clear focus: For example, 'What are we supposed to be doing today?'

Recommendations ignored: Management needs to be responsive to the recommendations of a committee.

Inconclusive discussion: Problems are discussed but no conclusions are reached or decisions made.

Lack of follow-through: Members are not given assignments.

Domination: Often one person or clique dominates a meeting, talking and pushing for their positions while others wonder why they are there.

Lack of preparation: The agenda is not prepared and materials that really need to be there are not available. Someone has not done his or her homework.

Hidden agendas: Some participants may have personal axes to grind, promoting discussions that only they think are important.

Among the factors you listed were probably the following:

Clear definition of purpose: What the committee and its members are supposed to do and what their goals are, is clearly set out.

Careful time control: Meetings start and end on time, with enough time allowed to get the work done and no more.

Opinions respected: Meeting members listen and are sensitive to each other's needs and opinions.

Informal atmosphere: Participants are encouraged to contribute to the discussion when the atmosphere is informal rather than being a formal exchange.

Good preparation: Both chairperson and meeting members are well prepared, any materials required being available.

Commitment: The members are qualified and interested, wanting to be a part of the meeting.

No distractions: Interruptions are avoided or held to a minimum.

Record keeping: Good minutes or records are kept so that decisions are not lost. There is no need to search out what decisions were made at the last meeting.

Assessment of performance: Periodically, the meeting stops and assesses its own performance, with any necessary improvements being implemented.

Recognition of effort: Meeting members feel that they receive some kind of reward for their efforts, when their contributions are recognised and appreciated.

Management response: The work of the meeting is accepted and used, making a real contribution to the school.

Is a meeting needed?
How can a school head avoid holding meetings that frustrate people? Some attention must be given to designing meetings that are productive. The first decision to be made is whether a meeting is really necessary.

It seems almost too obvious to mention that there needs to be a legitimate reason for holding a meeting. The design of the meeting depends on its purpose and what the hopes for outcomes are. Some legitimate reasons for having meetings are listed below.

Legitimate purposes include:
• to share information
• to plan future programmes, actions
• to co-ordinate actions of individuals or units
• to solve problems, making a decision on a plan of action to deal with a problem
• to gather information, get feedback, review past actions
• to determine policy
• to motivate, inspire
• to train, instruct
• to provide support, build cohesion.

Organising and preparing meetings

The organisation of meetings involves a school head in a great deal of work. In order to ensure that no job is missed, it is a good plan to deal with matters systematically. A checklist is an invaluable aid. It can be conveniently divided up into jobs to do well in advance, the day before the meeting, the day of the meeting, during the meeting and after the meeting.

K. Managing Conflict



I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.


William Blake, `The Poison Tree'

Conflict and dispute are part of life. There is no society, community, organisation or interpersonal relationship which does not experience conflict at some time or another as part of daily interaction. Conflict arises when people or groups are engaged in competition to meet goals which are perceived to be, or are in fact, incompatible. Conflict can become physically and emotionally damaging or it can lead to growth and productivity for all parties. It all depends on how conflict is managed and resolved.

The nature of conflict

This workshop does not attempt to give participants final solutions on conflict resolution, but rather it deals with what school heads might say and do with colleagues, parents and pupils when they cannot agree on certain matters.

How can one describe conflict? Conflict has been defined as below:
'Conflict is an open disagreement between two people or groups of people who have different goals and values. Conflict involves people's feelings as well as their objectives, and both feelings as well as outcome of the conflict must be resolved, agreement must be found or a compromise worked out.'

Although this definition is rather negative, a number of comments have been made by writers on the nature of conflict, which recognise the definite advantages that can be gained from conflict, including:

• confronting the individual with him/herself
• forcing reassessment of the position of the other party
• redefining of roles and relationships
• facilitating change
• preventing stagnation
• creating an awareness of alternatives and options.

Conflict as a process

The particular nature of conflict situations is not unknown to school heads. At the outset a conflict situation is often perceived as a single event; but this is seldom the case. Conflicts do not simply erupt; rather they develop through various stages, and in each of these stages certain factors contribute to the possibility of conflict.

Perceived conflict: Potential conflicts are precipitated by how individuals 'see' each other. These perceptions determine whether conflict will occur.

Felt conflict: As mentioned in the definition of conflict, people's feelings and attitudes towards each other, and the particular cause of conflict, will further affect their eventual behaviour.

Manifest conflict: Based on the two stages above confrontation will occur, being either conflictive or problem-solving.

Conflict resolution: At some point in the process conflict will either be resolved, or it will be suppressed.

Resolution aftermath: Depending on the outcome of the resolution the future situation might lead to further conflict or to co-operation.

Conflict resolution

Conflict management is one of the activities that a school head is exposed to on a daily basis. The types of conflict a school head is exposed to are not restricted to the domain of the school, and in many cases can involve the community and other stakeholders.

What is conflict resolution?

'Resolution of conflict occurs when parties involved understand each other's position accurately. They are willing to discuss it, because they want to resolve the conflict, regardless of their disagreements. Resolution occurs only when the parties try to reach mutually satisfying solutions.'

In the past school heads have depended upon a well established hierarchy in authority. The person on top could make rapid decisions and act autocratically when necessary. This was often used to 'resolve' conflict situations, but were these solutions lasting and effective in the long-term?

The definition of conflict resolution posed above assumes a method of problem-solving that is more democratic in its approach and allows those affected to be involved. The next section suggests some ways in which you might want to approach conflict resolution in the future.

Techniques of conflict resolution

When attempting to reach agreement in a conflict situation it may be useful to take note of the five causes of conflict usually described by writers. These are differences based on a clash of:
• interests
• understanding
• values
• style
• opinion.

Writers identify three styles of reaction to conflict. These are:

• aggressive ('fight it')
• assertive ('negotiate it')
• passive ('duck it').

Five skills for negotiating conflict can also be identified. These are:

• spot/define it
• understand it
• look for 'win-win' (where all parties to the conflict feel that they have gained something)
• act at the right time
• check out the results.

These approaches to conflict resolution are valuable and instructive. They embody certain techniques which are very useful in reducing tension between persons or groups, but they do put great emphasis on the school head and her or his skill in being able to negotiate a satisfactory resolution to a conflict.

In dealing with potential conflicts you might want to consider the following:

Ten hints on conflict resolution

1 Nurture a positive atmosphere.
2 Clarify perceptions of yourself and your position.
3 Clarify perceptions of the other parties.
4 Clarify perceptions of the causes of the conflict.
5 Clarify the underlying factors of the cause.
6 Be in charge of your responses.
7 Encourage parties to express feelings.
8 Focus on shared needs and goals.
9 Generate options.
10 Develop and implement 'do-able' parts.


One way of positive conflict management is negotiation. Negotiation has been defined as: 'A transaction in which both parties have a veto on the final outcome'.

In other words, each party in a negotiation has to consent to the outcome if it is to be implemented and each has an interest in the other agreeing to it. Thus by negotiating we make a joint decision.

According to this definition, negotiation is something we do every day in our personal, professional or business capacities. For example, people negotiate with their spouses on whether they spend their money on new household furniture, with their children on which household chores they have to do. They negotiate a salary increase with their bosses and may be part of formal high level negotiations on local, regional, national or international policy or business issues.

We are constantly encouraged to become participants in the development process. Participation means shared decision-making which means reaching agreement. Successful participation is dependent on the skill of negotiation.

Negotiation is not easy. The majority of people only know two ways of negotiation, namely gentle and soft or tough and hard. Whatever position is taken involves a trade-off between getting what the parties want and keeping a good relationship between the negotiating parties.

A different method of negotiation has been successfully employed. It is called Principled Negotiation or Negotiation on the Merits and was developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project. This method is valuable because it can be used everywhere by anybody to negotiate anything.

It will be helpful to have a quick look at the strategies people usually follow when employing this method. Each party takes up a position, defends it and makes a series of concessions until an agreement is reached or when the negotiations break down because the parties could not make any additional concessions on their positions. One problem with this kind of bargaining is that the main concern becomes the positions of the parties and not the issues which brought the group together in the first place. It is usually a very long process, emotionally draining, but it can produce agreements which will be acceptable to all in the most efficient and friendly way as possible. The method consists of four points which deal with the basics of negotiation. They are people, interests, options and criteria.


Separate the people from the problem. This first point is important because negotiators are people with their own emotions, beliefs, likes and dislikes which influence the way they perceive the problem and search for a solution. It is thus imperative that negotiating parties identify the problem and work together to solve the problem and do not spend the time trying to attack and change the people involved in the negotiation process.



Focus on interests and not on the position. This second critical point emphasises the importance of identifying and focusing on the negotiating parties' real interests and not on their positions. Ask the basic question 'why?' to find out your own and the other party's real interests. Moreover, the most powerful, but often most overlooked interests are the universal basic human needs, that is, economic well-being, security, social acceptance, a sense of belonging and control over one's own life. But above all listen to what is being said.


Generate a wide variety of possibilities before reaching a decision. Set aside a special time for the parties to invent a wide variety of possible solutions to the problem. It has been found that the major obstacles to inventing options are:
• premature judgement
• the search for the single answer
• the assumption of a fixed pie
• assuming that 'solving their problem is their problem'.

To overcome these obstacles it will be necessary to:

1 Separate the act of judging from the act of inventing options. One strategy to use is that of brainstorming.
2 Look for multiple options by using a Circle Chart which encourages different modes of thinking on the same subject.
3 Try and find mutual gain by identifying shared interests.
4 Make the solution of their problem also your problem by actively trying to understand their position and coming up with shared solutions.


Insist that the result be based on objective and standard criteria by which results can be measured. This will ensure a fair solution.

These four points are important and relevant throughout the negotiation process.
Strategies of conflict resolution

A popular way of describing conflict resolution strategies is in terms of winning and losing.

These strategies can be broadly described as follows:
Win - lose
The outcome of this strategy is that one party loses and one wins. In most cases this strategy is unsatisfactory, and in all probability the conflict will erupt at a later stage.

Lose - lose
Both parties lose in the deal: usually a third party is involved, and tries to reach a compromise that is seldom acceptable to either of the parties.

Win - win
Both parties are satisfied with the outcome, and the focus is on solving the problem and not defeating each other.


In negotiating a solution to a conflict situation the aim of the resolution process should always be to strengthen the future relationship of the parties involved.

The conflict situation can have mutual advantages and benefits if approached in the right manner, and with the right attitude towards a possible resolution.

Striving for a win - win strategy so that both parties can be satisfied with the outcome is the ideal route for a school head to follow. Conflicts should be solved democratically. Make use of a mediator when necessary.