MEC Answers Questions on School Safety and Teacher Development
This was part of comprehensive replies tabled in the Provincial Legislature yesterday in response to questions from Members to Education MEC Cameron Dugmore. Another one dealt with teacher development and evaluation.
(1) Whether he or his department has taken or intends taking any steps with regard to the vandalising of laboratories at schools in the Western Cape and to the theft from schools of computers that were donated by the Shuttleworth Foundation; if not, why not; if so, (a) what are the relevant details and (b) how does he intend preventing future occurrences of vandalism and theft;
(2)(a) What, as at the latest specified date for which figures are available, were the estimated costs relating to the replacement of equipment stolen and vandalised during the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 financial years and (b) who will be bearing these costs?
18.(1)(a) Equipment was donated to schools by the Shuttleworth Foundation via an arrangement between the school and the Shuttleworth Foundation that did not involve the Department. The security, replacement, etc. of the equipment must, therefore, be done in terms of the normal processes outlined in the schools' agreements with the Foundation or in terms of normal loss control. The WCED makes no provision for the replacement of such equipment.
(b) The Western Cape Education Department is taking this issue very seriously. Repairing and securing buildings are costly.
The first prong of our three-pronged strategy has been strengthened since September 2005, with the deployment of Bambanani volunteers in partnership with our sister department, the Department of Community Safety.
The role of the Bambanani volunteers is to provide the following:
- Law enforcement on school premises (school premises security)
- Access control
- Searches and seizures
- Patrol perimeter of school as well as school corridors and identify problematic areas on school premises.
- Participation on the Safety Committee of the school
- Improve police and youth relationships
- Community Involvement / Networking
- Decrease crime on school premises
- Early identification of illegal activities by youth at risk, on school premises
- Intelligence gathering
- School site surveys
- Disaster / Emergency preparedness
As a first step, we have placed an alarm system at schools, which is linked to an armed response service. It has been proven that an alarm system, if properly installed, maintained and backed with effective armed response, is the most inexpensive deterrent to vandalism, violence, theft, arson, gangsters and intruders. The armed response companies often serve as the first call of response. Schools are also requesting their armed response companies to schedule additional patrols in the affected areas to ensure greater visibility and vigilance.
Schools are also encouraged to foster and strengthen partnerships with the local sector policing units, as well as the community policing forums and neighbourhood watches.
Safe Schools believes that the community should be included where possible, to foster greater community buy-in and support. In this way, a sense of community ownership of the school is strengthened and community members are more likely to report any untoward activity that they have observed at the school. They are also less likely to commit burglary and vandalism at the school.
In addition, schools are advised and supported in taking the following safety and security measures:
- It is important that schools use a community-orientated problem-solving approach and ensure that other sections of the school-community are involved.
- Schools are obliged to report all burglaries and vandalism incidents to the Safe Schools Call Centre at 0800 45 46 47.
- Safe Schools will meet with the affected schools (that have been repeatedly burgled) to discuss best practice strategies on preventative measures.
- Schools to take a proactive approach and explore best practice strategies used at other schools to counter burglaries and vandalism.
- Schools should constantly check that their security systems are functional.
- Principals are to ensure that their schools' Safety Committees are fully functional.
- The Safety Committees at schools are to do regular security checks as well as alarm testing.
- Defective alarm systems to be upgraded.
It is also important to remember that infrastructural measures can certainly assist with crime control, but that they are not the ultimate solutions, as we need to develop sustained crime prevention structures and strategies as well as improve the socio-economic conditions in the high risk school communities.
(2)(a) Due to time limitation, the WCED was not in a position to collate the requested information from schools in the Western Cape. My department will do this and provide the member with the necessary information when it becomes available.
Whether all the measures to evaluate teacher effectiveness are in place; if not, why not; if so, (a) what are the relevant details and (b) (i) what is the impact of such measures and (ii) how regularly are they (aa) conducted and (bb) monitored?
(a) The system to measure teacher performance is in place. Teacher Performance Measurement (PM) is one part of the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS). The other two parts are Development Appraisal (DA - determining educator training and development needs) AND Whole School Evaluation (WSE) which is the evaluation of the entire school.
The DA and PM legs were implemented for the first time in 2005. The first cycle was from 1 January - 31 December 2005. It was applicable to every teacher paid by the WCED, whether they are permanent or temporary. Every teacher underwent a baseline evaluation in the first 4-5 months of the year, and a summative evaluation in the last term of the year.
Educators who were on various types of leave, suspended, etc. would not have been evaluated, but would have been expected to slot into the next evaluation. The Collective Agreement states that normal leave should not interfere with the IQMS process.
There were some educators who refused to participate in the system. They did not receive the 1%. Follow-up work has been done with them, because if they refuse to comply progressive discipline will become applicable. They have been informed that this will happen.
(b)(i) 2005 was the first year of implementation. Because the system requires a peer and a supervisor to evaluate the teacher together, our general finding (which is confirmed by findings in other provinces) is that evaluation panelists were generally very lenient in their evaluations. This meant that the educators received high scores even though the learners at a particular school did not perform well. Some principals of schools where learners are struggling or failing received scores that did not correlate with their learner achievement or school functionality. Minister Pandor has expressed concern about this phenomenon.
Within the Western Cape we supplied each school with copies of a guide which unpacks the standards of evaluation. This document now makes it possible for the evaluating panel to know what evidence to look for before making a decision on a score. We believe (and principals are telling us that the document goes a long way to helping with more realistic evaluations) that the evaluations of 2006 will present a different picture to those of 2005. The DoE has also been developing a Moderation Guideline, which will be used in 2006.
An important fact to keep in mind is that if a teacher gets an "acceptable" score, he or she qualifies for pay progression of 1%. This is NOT the normal inflationary increase. The linking of the pay progression to the evaluation of teachers has, we believe, had a negative impact on the reliability of the scores. At a recent meeting at the ELRC, it has been suggested that the pay progression should perhaps be delinked from the evaluations. If not, teachers will continue to get high scores even though there is no improvement in the effectiveness of their teaching; and they will not identify their developmental needs.
Within the WCED we have made it clear that the evaluation has to be based on what the teacher does throughout the year, and there should be a correlation with the learners' achievement levels.
(ii) In the first year of implementation teachers were evaluated twice (baseline and summative). Subsequently, the teacher has to be formally evaluated once a year. We have advised schools, however, that the overall evaluation cannot be based on one classroom visit. In order for principals to effectively moderate the evaluation scores, they are advised to make regular visits to gain an overall comparative picture of teacher performance.
(aa) Formally evaluated once a year.
(bb) The fact that the teacher scores must be submitted once a year in itself means that the process has to be undertaken. Our experience is that teachers watch very carefully that everybody on the staff is evaluated. Where there are "irregularities" teachers report these through their unions.
Circuit managers, as part of the evaluation of the principal, are required to determine how the PM is implemented.
IQMS officials located in the EMDCs do ongoing monitoring of the process, and they report once a month to the PTT (a sub-committee of the PELRC).
Within the WCED, we contracted a service provider to conduct a monitoring exercise at sampled schools in February - March 2006. A copy of the report has been sent to all WCED schools.
Recently a self-evaluation audit tool was sent to all schools - so that they can assess their structures and processes.
The way forward: The Directorate: Quality Assurance also monitors whether the development of teachers (based on their DA) is indeed taking place. The WSE process requires that the evaluators do verification of the evaluation scores of educators.
Conclusion: It is our view that implementing a system such as this, and getting positive results or impact takes about three years. We seek ways of refining its implementation and ensuring that it brings about improved quality in the delivery of education.
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689
Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za