WCG publishes Draft Regulations pertaining to the School Evaluations Authority
On Monday 25th February 2019, the Western Cape Government gazetted the Draft Regulations pertaining to the School Evaluations Authority (SEA) for public comment. The closing date for comment is 18 March 2019.
I am particularly excited about this new innovation that will drive school improvement through accountability and support.
The draft regulations outline:
- The procedures for the appointment of the Chief Evaluator
- The terms and conditions of employment of the Chief Evaluator
- Processes for filling of vacancies
- Removal from Office of Chief Evaluator
- Exercise of functions by the Chief Evaluator
- Preparation and publication of reports
- Submission of reports to Provincial Minister
- Operation of School Evaluations Authority
So what is the SEA and how will it improve Education in the Western Cape?
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.
According to the Draft Regulations, the 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 the 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
The enabling key tools for the SEA to deliver on this mandate are the implementation of a revised school evaluation methodology in all public ordinary schools across the Western Cape, and the publishing of school reports to a public audience.
The intention behind these mechanisms is as follows:
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. An important change from the current Whole School Evaluation system is that, instead of giving four weeks’ notice of an evaluation, this Bill provides for two days’ notice and all teachers are evaluated. 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.
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.
Publishing school reports
Schools should be at the centre of our communities and one way of empowering parents and communities is by sharing information about school performance. The new reports will be more concise, insightful and focused on what matters most. The evaluations are also shorter, already resulting in a cost saving. This means we can visit more schools in a shorter time, and then focus on the improvement aspects.
School principals have also indicated that they value the new approach, especially the focus on classroom observation, and joint observations with an independent evaluator. They are seeing their schools as they really are, and they find the evaluation results credible because they are based on good evidence.
The draft regulations are now open for public comment. Any person or organisation wishing to comment on these draft regulations is requested to submit the comments on or before 18 March 2019.
I look forward to the appointment of the Chief Evaluator, who according to the Draft Regulations, will then choose his or her team to commence the formal SEA evaluations.
As a Government, it is incumbent on us to take deliberate and measurable actions to ensure the provision of quality education for children. A child only has one chance to be in school, and we must make it the best.
I firmly believe that the implementation the new School Evaluations Authority will have a positive impact on education outcomes in the Province.
- by posting the comments to:
Adv. Lynn Coleridge-Zils
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000;
- by delivering the comments to:
Adv. Lynn Coleridge-Zils
Western Cape Education Departmen
33 Church Street
Cape Town 8001; or
- by emailing the comments to: