School leaders in all settings require suitable integration of leadership knowledge and skills to respond effectively to the many challenges that beset them in their daily work. However, it is argued that the rural context creates additional and distinctive challenges for school leaders, as rural schools have unique challenges and traits that differentiate them markedly from those in urban areas. To help understand how rural leaders in rural schools deal with the challenges and complexity in their work five schools were selected for the study. A qualitative research paradigm was selected. The selection process involved a purposive sample. Three of the five principals on whom the case studies were based were in their first year and the other two, were in their third and fourth year as a permanent teaching principal, respectively. Principals were interviewed using semi-structured, in-depth interviews.
It was found that the desirability of principals acquiring a rural lens as a strategy for enhancing leadership has important implications for their initial preparation and also for their ongoing professional training.
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