Western Cape top achievers in maths and languages celebrated
Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education
This evening, 17 February, the Western Cape Education Department will be celebrating the top school achievers and improvements in the 2014 Western Cape School Awards for Language and Mathematics.
The systemic tests in Language and Mathematics are conducted each year in Grade 3, 6 and 9. They are an important resource for the Western Cape Education Department as they determine the levels of our learners’ language and mathematics abilities so that we can target and assist schools in improving their outcomes. They are also useful tools for schools and educators as it provides specific information on various learning areas.
The Western Cape believes that we can further improve the management of education and learner performance, both at district and school level, by providing this diagnostic assessment and is the only Province in the country to do so. The tests are also set and administered by independent service providers to provide a reliable benchmark for learner performance.
In October 2014, over 229 000 learners in Grade 3, 6 and 9, wrote the 2014 Systemic tests for Language and Mathematics in the Province.
Tonight we will be celebrating the top achieving and most improved schools in these tests at an award ceremony at Turfhall Primary School in Athlone.
66 schools will be receiving awards for achievement and improvement this evening – one of which will be Wallacedene Primary School in Kraaifontein. (An embargoed statement of the award winners will be released later this afternoon, which will include all the names of the schools and the categories in which they have been awarded)
Today, I visited Wallacedene Primary School to congratulate the principal Ms Mbude on her school’s improvement and to find out first-hand how her school achieved these improved results.
While the school achieved a considerable improvement in Language in Grade 3 – an 11.5 increase from 21.2% in 2013 to 32.7% in 2014 – it is their Grade 6 results which have seen a remarkable increase. (Please note that the pass mark is 50%)
In Grade 6, the school improved its mathematics results from 9.4% in 2013 to 46.4% in 2014. This is a substantial improvement of 46.4%!
In 2013, the school achieved 4.4% in language results and improved on this by 57.5% in 2014 achieving an incredible 61.9%!
Ms Mbude explained how she improved her schools results as follows:
- The Grade 6 learners attend extra English classes weekdays from 7am-8am assisted by a teacher and an NGO Teach, Love, Care Network (TLC)
- Currently these extra classes are taught to Grade 6 learners and will be expanded to Grade 5’s in 2016.
- The teachers have encouraged the parents to take an active role in the school and the parents assist in insuring that their children attend the extra lessons
- The teachers make learning English fun and help to remove the fear that comes with learning another language
- The teachers encourage reading and writing and this is evident in the beautiful letters that 2014 Grade 6’s have written thanking the Ms Mbude and Lorna from TLC for the extra classes
I am delighted that tonight Ms Mbude and her school will be acknowledged for their achievements.
I also look forward to congratulating all our schools that have seen improvements.
An analysis of the overall 2014 results indicates that the levels of language and mathematics are improving in the Western Cape, with only a minor decrease in Grade 3 Mathematics and a parallel result for Grade 9 language compared to last year.
The biggest improvements were in Grade 3 and 6 Language results. Grade 3 Language increased by 5.4% and Grade 6 Language increased by 8.4%. This is in line with our strategy, since 2010, to improve the reading and writing skills of learners in the foundation phase, with increased investment in both physical and human resources to this phase, such as additional teachers, readers, textbooks and training.
Mathematics still remains a major concern for us, especially in Grade 9, where learners are not grasping the fundamental content areas.
While the 2014 tests have resulted in some pleasing improvements, there is still considerable work to be done to ensure that we improve further to ensure acceptable outcomes for all our learners. I am particularly concerned about the results in Grade 9. We are currently reviewing our mathematics and language strategies so as to improve further on these results and are planning for specific interventions in Grades R-3, and Grades 8 and 9.
Nevertheless it is important to celebrate our achievements and I look forward to awarding the top achievers in these tests in the Province, such as Wallacedene Primary.