Turnaround strategy in the pipeline for Soweto schools

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pretoria- Education stakeholders in Gauteng have agreed to hold a Learner Summit and to develop a framework to turn around underperforming schools in Soweto,

Participants at the Soweto Education Summit noted that the situation in Soweto schools had vastly improved, with more stability and less school disruptions taking place, however, more focus should be given to under-performing schools in the township.

"Stakeholders agreed that the department should develop a Whole School Turnaround Framework to be presented at a later meeting for input and adoption. This framework will support underperforming schools in Soweto with a view to holistically improve their management, governance, and performance," the Gauteng Department of Education said in a statement.

The statement issued on Tuesday, is in conjunction with Governors Alliance, National Association of School Governing Body (NASGB), the National Association of Parents in School Governance (NAPSG) and Parents for Children with Special Educational Needs (PACSEN) among others.

The decision follows a stakeholder workshop - that included teacher unions, departmental officials, political organisations and youth structures among others - that was held on Monday.

The gathering reviewed the Soweto Education Summit held on 9 April 2011. It also assessed work done by various stakeholders in implementing the resolutions of that summit.

The parties said improvements had been seen in the township with less school disruptions taking place and more stability. Schools that had improved on their performance in the 2011 matric results were commended.

"Soweto schools still lagged behind other townships with a 67% matric pass rate in 2011 which is below the national average of 70%," noted the stakeholders.

At the workshop the department presented its intervention strategy that seeks to improve the performance of the 50 secondary schools that achieved less than 70% in the 2011 grade 12 examinations and primary schools that obtained below 60% in the Annual National Assessment results.

These schools have monthly accounting sessions with teacher development having started in February, based on the five core subjects for intervention namely Maths, Physical Science, English, Accounting, and Life Sciences.

Previously intervention in addressing education challenges in Soweto in the past had focussed on the role of educators, parents, the department and communities. The parties said the provincial department should convene a Learner Summit in June (Youth Month) where learners can discuss solutions to issues such bullying, learner behaviour and substance abuse.

The provincial education department has implemented the Gauteng Primary Literacy and Mathematics Strategy (GPLMS) to strengthen the teaching of literacy and numeracy in primary schools.

Additionally, the Secondary School Improvement Plan (SSIP) provides extra tuition during weekends and school holidays to Grade 10, 11 and 12 with several sites being identified to provide additional support to learners.

The department has provided curriculum support to educators in relation to the CAPS (Curriculum Assessment and Policy Statement) and understanding of educational policies. There are also plans to conduct more teacher development programmes above the normal departmental training programmes.

Parental involvement has been improved with parents doing voluntary work to supervise homework and scholar patrols. This participation in school safety and security has resulted in a reduction of vandalism in Soweto schools and the introduction of the Spelling Bee programme to improve literacy at both primary and secondary school level are some of the interventions.

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