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16 February, 2007
WCED provides holistic school support
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is introducing a wide range of measures to support 34 schools that achieved pass rates of less than 60% in the 2006 matric exams.
The measures form part of the National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA) that provides holistic support to all aspects of teaching and learning, including school management and governance.
The NSLA has replaced the national Learning Schools Project that focused in particular on teaching and learning, but not sufficiently at other issues needing attention.
The WCED has participated in the national Learning Schools Project (LSP) since 2001, initially to support 82 schools in the province that achieved a matric pass rate of less than 60% in 2000.
The project focused initially on supporting teaching and learning in the classroom and contributed to reducing the number of schools in this category over the years.
While the project demonstrated that interventions do work, all those participating have learned that we have to adopt a more holistic approach to see further progress.
We therefore replaced the LSP with the NSLA in 2006, which pays attention to earlier grades and a wide range of broader issues such as management and governance.
The strategy includes special interventions to support teaching and learning at schools that achieve matric pass rates of less than 60%.
Thirty-four schools achieved a pass rate of less that 60% in the Western Cape in 2005, and participated in the NSLA during 2006. Twenty-two of these schools achieved pass rates of more than 60% in the 2006, representing a success rate of 64.7%.
While our success to date has demonstrated that interventions do work, we have also learned that there are no quick fixes.
For example, 16 of the successful schools last year participated in our matric intervention programmes for between two and four years. It takes time to build an environment in which effective teaching and learning can take place.
Interventions in the Western Cape in 2006 included winter and spring schools to develop teaching and learning skills and setting common examinations for NSLA schools in June and September.
We organized motivational camps for learners and held special subject workshops for teachers. We introduced pace setters per subject to ensure proper coverage of the curriculum. District multi-functional teams managed district action plans.
While 22 of the participating schools managed to achieve pass rates of more than 60%, 22 other schools took their places after the 2006 matric exams. This means that 34 schools are participating once again in the NSLA programme in 2007.
Our challenges include building a solid culture of teaching and learning. We are especially concerned about schools that have been in the LSP and NSLA programmes for the past three to four years.
We will continue to support schools that succeeded in graduating beyond the 60% pass rate, as well as schools in danger of slipping into this category. This support will include all aspects of teaching, management and governance.
We will seek to minimize absenteeism and late-coming, to ensure time on task, and will work with schools to set and meet targets and standards.
We will seek to reduce drop-out rates, by monitoring drop outs and using incentives to encourage excellent through-put rates. We want to work with schools to build pride and dignity.
We will pay special attention to learners who passed Grade 11 with condoned passes, and help teachers to set standardized tests, assignments and exams.
District teams will continue to provide holistic support. We have developed structures to ensure focused planning, monitoring, support and reporting. We are pinning our hopes on these initiatives to improve results further in 2007.
Western Cape Education Department
Tel: 021 467 2531
Fax: 021 461 3694
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