CityPress - - Voices - CO­LETTE BRAUDO co­lette.braudo@city­press.co.za

he re­sults tell us to raise our ex­pec­ta­tions,” said Wandile Makhubu, prin­ci­pal of Unity Sec­ondary School in Davey­ton, Ekurhu­leni, one of the top-per­form­ing town­ship schools.

“We, as a town­ship school, want to com­pete with for­mer Model C schools, so we make it our busi­ness to learn from schools that are per­form­ing by part­ner­ing with them.”

Pi­eter Steyn, head of LEAP nofee schools, which pro­vide math­sand sci­ence-fo­cused education to dis­ad­van­taged learn­ers, said: “Qual­ity education is so much more than academics. I won­der how open we are to learn­ers in en­sur­ing that they do not get lost in the sys­tem. How­ever, you can­not progress a re­peat learner who hasn’t been in class most of the year or isn’t aca­dem­i­cally in­clined.

“We need to look at longer-term strate­gies such as new teach­ing method­olo­gies, and at im­ple­ment­ing them as early as grade 8, when teach­ers are more re­cep­tive to learn­ing new ways of do­ing things.”

Th­ese were among the in­sights of­fered by the pan­el­lists in­vited to speak at the Prin­ci­pals Up­front di­a­logue ear­lier this month. Ed­u­ca­tors at­tended the se­cond in a se­ries of pub­lic di­a­logues to strengthen school lead­er­ship.

The topic, “The re­sults that mat­ter – lead­ing for qual­ity education in South Africa”, led to a dis­cus­sion about is­sues such as bring­ing back vo­ca­tional schools, the need to re­solve the prob­lem of English as the lan­guage of in­struc­tion, and bring­ing in re­tired teach­ers as men­tors.

The key­note speaker was Pro­fes­sor Mary Met­calfe, Gaut­eng’s for­mer MEC for education. Now a vis­it­ing ad­junct pro­fes­sor at Wits Busi­ness School, she is in­volved in the Pro­gramme to Im­prove Learner Out­comes, which is about de­sign­ing a pro­gramme to sup­port govern­ment’s in­ter­ven­tion strate­gies.

Met­calfe said: “In the pub­lic de­bate, we tend to look at three things: the over­all grade 12 pass rate; the per­cent­age of bach­e­lor passes; and how pro­vin­cial per­for­mances com­pare. On this ba­sis, su­per­fi­cial judg­ments are made about the per­for­mance of the school­ing sys­tem as a whole. “But when we dig more deeply into the data, trends emerge that can help us iden­tify pri­or­ity ar­eas for im­prove­ment as well as is­sues spe­cific to each prov­ince. Take the KwaZulu-Na­tal fig­ures. The num­ber of learn­ers who failed there ex­ceeds the num­ber of learn­ers who passed in five other provinces, be­cause of the prov­ince’s size.” The key, said Met­calfe, was to ask the right ques­tions. “For ex­am­ple, what do the re­sults in any given year tell us about the through­put and dropout rate be­fore grade 12? Do all schools in all provinces treat re­peat learn­ers the same way, and what is the im­pact th­ese learn­ers have on the pass rate? Is a high num­ber of maths passes com­mend­able, even if the qual­ity of th­ese passes is ques­tion­able? You can­not just in­crease the maths par­tic­i­pa­tion rate and not im­prove the qual­ity of learn­ing.”

The pur­pose of th­ese and other ques­tions, she said, was to pro­voke thought among prin­ci­pals and get them to look at data dif­fer­ently.

This ar­ti­cle is sup­ported by BRIDGE, Sa­sol In­zalo Foun­da­tion, the Catholic In­sti­tute of Education, Wits School of Gov­er­nance and the Matthew Goniwe

School of Lead­er­ship and Gov­er­nance. The next di­a­logue takes place on May 18 at the

Wits School of Gov­er­nance

TALK TO US Are ma­tric re­sults the be-all and end-all of suc­cess?

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