Basic information on public education


What schools that work do right (The video script)

Posted by Janice Scheckter on 26 March 2019 4:35 PM SAST

According to 2017 study, on schools that work, high-performing schools do nothing out of the ordinary. They simply do ordinary things extraordinarily well.

The study investigated 100 secondary schools across all 9 provinces that serve learners from poor backgrounds yet achieved an NSC pass rate of over 95% consecutively from 2012-2015. 

These ordinary things done extraordinarily well, focus on the following 6 areas.

1. School leadership

Principals in high-performing schools are the catalyst for positive change. They:

• Develop, implement and regularly review School Improvement Plans (SIPs)

• Monitor teachers’ and learners’ work to assess progress in curriculum delivery

• Lead without controlling and make it easy for the whole school community to achieve agreed-upon goals.

2. Professional development and collaboration

• Teachers take responsibility for their own development and empowerment, but:

• Principals make time for meaningful staff development activities and provide collaborative settings for teacher planning, problem-solving and peer support

• Principals network with other schools to develop instructional and leadership skills as a strategy for providing quality professional development activities.

3. Quality of teaching

• Time spent teaching (time-on-task) and curriculum coverage are high

• Teachers use a variety of innovative teaching strategies

• Homework is given regularly and carefully monitored and checked

• Teachers regularly assess their learners’ knowledge and provide meaningful feedback

• Exam preparation is thorough.

4. System’s support and partnerships

Schools that work mobilise all key role players to support school improvement and learner achievement. Best practices include:

• Devising ways to broaden parental involvement

• Developing partnerships with agencies to provide a coordinated set of key social and educational services to learners

• Taking initiatives to understand learners’ diverse learning challenges, and always striving to meet learners’ needs.

5. A learner-centred climate 

• Providing an orderly and secure environment 

• Having and communicating high expectations for learner achievement

• Celebrating learners’ successes

• Having a very strong unique culture and values which underpin everything the school stands for.

6. An enabling environment

•Recruiting and retaining good teachers and creating conditions in which they can excel

• Giving teachers autonomy

• Encouraging teachers to become markers in the National Senior Certificate exams

• Having teachers who feel accountable for helping learners improve their performance

The study concludes that the amount of time spent on teaching matters greatly.

• Empirical evidence points overwhelmingly to the powerful link between more teaching time in school and better outcomes for learners.

• If time is not managed effectively it has a negative impact on learner proficiency by limiting learning opportunities (e.g. through poor curriculum coverage). The impact of time loss is more detrimental in schools serving economically disadvantaged learners.

The main factors that cause loss of teaching time are learner and teacher absenteeism and lateness (e.g. by leaving school early; returning to class late after breaks and poor time management of school nutrition programmes).

According to Minister Motshekga:

"Good schools do the basics right. The school starts and ends on time every school day. Teachers and learners arrive on time. Teachers are well prepared for all their lessons, are in class and teach every day and teachers consult parents when learners are absent while parents support the teachers and their children. Learners work hard, do their homework and respect their teachers. The entire school focuses on learning and does everything in its power to support learners to do better. A good school also has a good principal. The good principal has a vision for his/her school and gets others to buy into that vision. He or she leads by example and encourages learners to always strive to do better."

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