New Chief Evaluator for the School Evaluations Authority appointed | Western Cape Government


New Chief Evaluator for the School Evaluations Authority appointed

30 September 2019

Today, I am pleased to announce the appointment of the Chief Evaluator for the School Evaluations Authority (SEA) – Ms Karen Bydell.

A leader in education, she has a wealth of experience and has already made an exceptional contribution towards school improvement in the Western Cape. Ms Bydell has almost 45 years’ experience in education ranging from pre-primary, primary, secondary, special and teacher training and currently serves as the Director of Quality Assurance within the WCED.

Not only does she possess the appropriate knowledge of, or experience in education, but she also has substantial organisational leadership skills and a proven track record and experience in leading and managing change in a complex environment.

Her qualifications include BA and B.Ed. degrees from UNISA and diplomas in primary teaching and special education. She taught in Durban and Cape Town and trained teachers for 15 years before joining the WCED in 2001, where her portfolios have included early childhood development, monitoring and evaluation and quality assurance. She has played a key role in leading the Transforming School Accountability project, and in developing a new approach to school evaluation for the Western Cape.

The purpose of the SEA is to support school improvement in the Western Cape. Its focus is on identifying factors that impact on performance in the areas that matter most for quality education delivery at school level – particularly learning, safety, leadership, and governance.

The functions of the Chief Evaluator are to:

  • Ensure the delivery of evaluations of school performance, including judgments about quality, other findings and recommendations based on sound evidence.
  • Publish and disseminate clear and accessible school evaluation reports and information including quality judgments and other findings and recommendations.
  • Ensure the efficient administration of the SEA.
  • Implement, review, and improve the school evaluation policy, model and tools in line with provincial frameworks and international best practice.
  • Appoint the relevant staff, including lead evaluators, to conduct the operations of the SEA.

The appointment of the Chief Evaluator is, in terms of section 11A (3) of Western Cape Provincial Schools Education Act, as amended last year, for a non-renewable term of 4 years. The terms and conditions of appointment as Chief Evaluator are regulated by agreement between the Provincial Minister and the Chief Evaluator.

“I am delighted that I will have the opportunity to lead the new SEA as its inaugural Chief Evaluator. The SEA represents a tremendous opportunity to improve our schools and to raise the standard of education for our learners. I believe my experience, skills and qualities will ensure that it is established successfully, and my focus will be to build up its capacity and capability, and help it link effectively with the rest of the education system here in the Western Cape. My career demonstrates a life-long commitment to our children and to the values of the Western Cape Education Department. Now, as the Chief Evaluator, I will lead change and strengthen accountability, leadership and governance in our school system”, said newly appointed Chief Evaluator, Ms Karen Bydell.

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.

Applications for the position of Chief Evaluator closed on Thursday 13th June 2019 and we received a number of excellent applications for the position. I however believe that Ms Bydell is the right person for the position and that she will have a positive impact on education outcomes in the Province.

I wish her all the best for her 4-year term as our very first Chief Evaluator of the School Evaluations Authority.

Media Enquiries: 

Jessica Shelver
Tel: 021 483 6570
Cell: 076 175 0663