One of the new provisions in the Western Cape Education Amendment Bill that was passed by the Western Cape Provincial Legislature in November 2019 provides for the creation of the School Evaluation Authority (SEA), that will independently evaluate schools and develop school evaluation reports, which will be published for parents and communities to know how well schools in their area are performing. The evaluations will provide an independent, external examination of school practices that includes a diagnosis of what should improve. It is based on gathering a range of evidence that is evaluated against a standard framework and takes full account of our policies and relevant legislation in areas such as diversity.
The purpose for SEA is therefore to raise standards and improve learning outcomes. It aims to drive school improvement through evaluating quality and practices in all schools (not just underperforming ones) and also identify and share focused and innovative local programmes that are in place to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Our aim is to assess the true quality of education in our system in a manner that is fair, consistent, objective and an honest reflection of how well a school is functioning, with a particular focus on the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, not just compliance with policy.
The SEA has a sharpened focus on identifying those factors impacting on performance in those key areas that matter most for quality education delivery at the school level - notably teaching, management, leadership and governance of the school.
SEA will independently recruit appropriately qualified personnel with relevant skills in key areas such as assessing teaching, school leadership and governance.
The key functions of SEA are:
- to evaluate the quality of education provided at schools and the extent to which the diverse needs of learners are met,
- to publish reports on the collection of objective, dependable high quality data
- to promote continuing improvement in the quality of education offered by schools through school self-evaluation
- to identify, acknowledge and affirm good practice in schools
- to provide proposals to improve quality and enhance support to teachers, school leadership, management bodies and school communities
- to play a key role in Policy Development in the education system
School evaluations are important as they provide assurance to the public and to government that minimum standards of education are being met and that, where relevant, public money is being spent well.
The new school evaluation tool streamlines Whole School Evaluation, from a mainly compliance-driven instrument, time-intensive evaluation process, to a more efficient evaluation which is focused on the quality of teaching and learning, behaviour and safety, leadership and management and sound governance as factors contributing to learner achievement.
While the new evaluation tool takes different/various school contexts into account, it focuses on the important aspects of education within schools’ control, in particular the quality of classroom teaching. This approach ensures that the WCED and schools maximise opportunities in the classroom. In addition, interviews are held with learners, parents, governing bodies and SMTs. This gives a far better holistic picture of what is happening at a particular school.
There are 5 areas of evaluation:
- Learner achievement
- Quality Teaching and Learning
- Behaviour and Safety
- Leadership and Management; and
- Governance, parents and community
Schools should be at the centre of our communities and one way of empowering parents and communities is by sharing information about school performance. Reports will therefore be published online.
The Chief Evaluator is responsible for the leadership and management of the School Evaluation Authority. The role of Chief Evaluator also includes:
- Providing outstanding leadership to the School Evaluation Authority as an evaluation and development institution that is independent of that part of the civil service responsible for the administration of schools in the Western Cape.
- Building and maintaining a high-performing evaluation authority.
- Leading and inspiring lead evaluators and evaluators across the province so that the SEA builds and maintains a committed and high-performing contingent of evaluators who have credibility with the sectors that they evaluate
- Ensuring that the SEA continues to drive improvement and raise standards in the school system, making fair and rounded judgements of school performance to promote quality education.
- Ensuring that the SEA is able to respond to challenges in an appropriate and proportionate way – including, for example, dealing with issues around violence in schools, safety of teachers and learners, diversity management and improving the levels of functionality in schools.
- Ensuring that the SEA is able to respond pro-actively to the direction of the national and provincial education departments’ policies and strategies.
- Ensuring that the SEA continues to meaningfully engage parents, carers, learners, professionals, and public stakeholders, and safeguards the SEA’s reputation.
- Representing the SEA to the public and working in a highly effective way with key contacts, including school management teams, school governing bodies, parents and other public stakeholders who draw on SEA reports.
- Leading public conversation in relation to the implementation of educational standards in schools and the extent to which education at the school level meets the diverse needs of learners.