Newsletter 167 - NEEDU - Schools That Work II - Recommendations relating to Schools
Every child deserves a high-quality education, regardless of his or her family’s income or background. There is a need, therefore, to think beyond what is known as the traditional means of education and find a new vision for academics in our education system. This new vision must encompass several forward thinking, innovative strategies aimed at meeting the needs of all learners in all schools.
Seven recommendations have been made towards making this vision a reality. These recommendations are organised according to different layers of the system, namely schools, district offices and provincial/national offices.
RECOMMENDATIONS RELATING TO SCHOOLS
Our analysis leads us to the conclusion that it is the collective work of teachers, learners, parents, and different structures in the community that will ultimately lead to all children “accessing and benefitting from a high quality education” as envisioned by the National Development Plan (NDP, p. 264). Although many suggestions can be made to ensure that “schools provide all learners with an excellent education” (NDP, 2011: 264), we make the following three school-level recommendations, which can be actioned by the members of the school management teams led by the Principals:
PART III: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
RECOMMENDATION 1—INTRA-AND INTER-SCHOOL NETWORKING: Sharing successes should be an integral part of the work of an improving school. There are aspects in every teacher’s work and every school’s work which reflect the best practice which others can learn from.
RECOMMENDATION 2—TEACHER COLLABORATION AND EMPOWERMENT: Schools need to foster a collaborative culture among teachers that puts the students' learning first, and turns a teacher's best practice into a school wide best practice. Many districts do not have the capacity to provide regular support to all teachers in every school. It is for this reason that school-based teacher support and empowerment becomes crucial. SMTs need to:
RECOMMENDATION 3—SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT PLANNING: If school improvement planning is to make an impact on the standards achieved by learners, then effective planning processes must be at the heart of the school and drive its development. Schools must produce an annual School Improvement Plan (SIP), informed by school self-evaluation, as required, in terms of the national Policy on Whole School Evaluation (WSE). Towards the end of the school improvement planning cycle, schools must begin auditing activities to find out what impact has been made by the improvement strategies implemented during the year. The school improvement planning process needs to address the following important questions:
This report describes the key drivers of curriculum delivery and best practices that inform them. These best practices are detailed in the report and are summarised in Appendix A. In addressing the question “How well are we doing?” it is recommended that schools follow four steps listed below to think critically about the best practices that could be used to increase learner achievement based on the needs of each specific school through a permanent cycle of inquiry and action:
· STEP 1: Read and discuss each best practice and think about how it applies to your school, and discuss what you believe to be most appropriate for your particular circumstances. The best practices presented in this report are neither the only route to improvement nor are they meant to be a definitive answer to school improvement. A school may decide to have separate teams, composed of staff and other relevant stakeholders, work on each of the six themes around which the best practices are presented in Part II in this report.
· STEP 2: Decide whether you would endorse the best practices for your school or develop alternatives that are more appropriate for your school. Indicate the best practices that you have endorsed or modified by completing the last column in Appendix A.
· STEP 3: Once you have settled on a set of best practices that are appropriate for your school, ascertain how close you think your school is to the ideal as expressed by each best practice (either as presented in this report or as modified by your school). This will entail collecting, analysing and discussing concrete evidence where your school is in relation to the best practice. What evidence does your school have to support a conclusion about how your school can be described in relation to the best practice or your alternative version?
· STEP 4: Determine your school’s priorities for improvement. The priorities identified must inform your school improvement plan.