Minister Grant: Effective Roll-Out of the Grade 12 Improvement Plan
Media Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Education
This afternoon I visited Scottsdene Secondary School in Kraaifontein to discuss the school's progress in improving their learner outcomes in the National Senior Certificate examinations.
Today's meeting is part of a series of visits I am making to assess the interventions we have made in our Grade 12 improvement plan for underperforming schools.
Currently, in the Western Cape, there are 78 schools classified as "underperforming" - schools with a lower than 60% pass rate in the National Senior Certificate. In 2010, the number of underperforming schools decreased from 85 to 78, reversing a six-year trend of increasing numbers of such schools.
These improved results were a product of targeted and sustained interventions at our schools, specifically those that had underperformed the previous year.
Although these interventions proved invaluable in 2010, the challenge for 2011 was to create an approach that builds on, sustains and fine tunes the strategies we already have in place so that they add even greater value for our educators and learners, as well as help to achieve even better results at the end of this year.
The main components of the plan include setting targets for improvement, providing learner and subject-specific support through the provision of textbooks and a "tips for success" booklet which helps learners with preparation for the NSC. The WCED also arranged for support to underperforming schools through the implementation of our tutoring programme and a telematics programme. Both these projects ensure that learners are being taught by quality educators with excellent presentation skills and subject knowledge in the various subjects on offer. A number of additional support measures like exemplar question papers, DVDs and workbooks have also been provided to schools.
The Grade 12 improvement plan also targets educators and school management teams, offering increased support in terms of management programmes, teacher development courses, the development of subject-specific support plans and the provision of exemplar assessment tasks.
All these interventions are being offered at our underperforming schools; however, we do realise that each school is different, with different challenges and needs.
In the case of Scottsdene Secondary for example, the WCED identified several challenges at the beginning of the school year that needed to be addressed in their specific Grade 12 plan. The school had achieved only a 45% pass rate in 2010, compared to 65.4% the previous year, and it was evident that specific support was needed.
Some of the challenges included lack of motivation by learners and high absenteeism, poor study techniques and time management, lack of parental involvement and support and the need for extra tuition. In January, after the release of the results, the WCED's district team immediately set out to plan for the year ahead. The first point of call was to set a target for the 2011 NSC. The target was set at 60%, which is 76 of 126 learners. A number of intervention measures, such as the telematics and tutoring programmes, were identified for implementation throughout the year.
To address some of the school's individual challenges, the Department then set up a meeting with parents and learners explaining the strategy and how it could help improve learner performance at the school. The Department called on parents to motivate and encourage their children in the year ahead and told learners about the extra support measures that would be provided in terms of motivational, guidance and subject-specific support. For example, a "learners at risk" programme was introduced to identify Grade 12 learners that are experiencing problems with, for example, substance abuse or a negative home environment.
Throughout the year, there have been ongoing unannounced visits by the Department to monitor school functionality and assist with support measures. Several meetings have been arranged with parents and learners attend regular motivation sessions.
The Department has also assisted in setting up winter and spring schools, a monitoring system for latecoming and absenteeism and a "Study Skills" programme for learners to improve their study techniques such as their memory skills. Workshops with educators and the school management have also been arranged to improve leadership and management performance and effectiveness.
Learners themselves have written down their own personalised targets, with study plans to assist in improved performance.
These are just some of the interventions that have taken place at Scottsdene Secondary this year and I am pleased with the roll-out of this strategy at this school and the commitment shown by the Metro East Education District to improve learner outcomes.
There are, however, challenges that still need to be addressed. While some parents have become increasingly involved in the school and attend meetings, others have stayed away. Educator absenteeism is also a concern, but I am confident that the Department will closely monitor this in future.
The Department and I will continue to monitor this programme in the coming months. We are, however, confident that it will result in improved learner outcomes at the end of this year.
Spokesperson for Minister Grant
Cell: 072 724 1422
Tel: 021 467 2377