Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Publishing Matric results....YAY or NAY

There has always been a mixed reaction to the tradition of publishing matric results. Those in favour of the tradition see it as a public pat on the back for work well done. Those against it see it as just more pressure on already over pressured youth that might have catastrophic consequences if your name does not appear in the paper.

The original aim of the publishing of matric results in the newspaper was to assist pupils who were on vacation and were unable to get to their respective schools to collect the results. This is no longer the case as matrics gather at their schools to open the newspaper to see the results.

In a time when we are so conscious of being politically correct, of respecting others' privacy and of erring on the safe side, should we not give some thought to the less than average student who might have tried very hard but just did not succees on the day? They have the right to keep their dignity and to try again without fear of being ridiculed.

On the other hand we should try to find a mechanism to praise those students who have worked hard and who have triumphed in the end. Perhaps a celebratory publication once all students have been notified of their results? Or is that just going back to the beginning again.....

In the end a compromise could be to use only ID or student numbers and keep it all as anonymous as possible. Numbers instead of names.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Award to recognise good governance

An annual national award that recognises schools that promote principles of good govrnance and discipline has been launched in Johannesburg and is believed to be a first in South africa.
Known as the CGF-Proudly South African School Governace Award, the initiative is the brainchild of CGF's chief executive officer, Terry Booysen, who has been a governance specialist for eight years and a prtner of Proudly South African.

Several of south Africa's municipalities as well as provincial education departments (notably the Eastern Cape) are facing serious financial and management problems, partly because of lack of management expertise and good governance.
The judges will focus on aspects such as:
  • Individual accountability
  • Collective responsibility
  • Group Perfomance
  • Principal's leadership capability
  • The quality of school policy
  • Supporting and promoting local products and services
 The call for entries sto the awards will be announce by the Proudly South African Campaign in due course. For morr information contact Dalene du Preez at: dalene@proudlysa.co.za.Tel 011 327 7778

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Following a field of dreams...

Last year Derek Smith of Reading Matters took on a private project that is proving to bring out the best in everyone involved. Derek along with kind partners have offered to build a library for inner city Johannesburg school Albert Street School.

They not only pledged to build the library, they are making it happen. The principal at Albert Street School along with his staff members are not sitting back and watching their dreams of one day having a library come to life, they are getting their hands dirty and being a part of the change.


Oh yes, at long last the show is on the road – After months of begging, using all my persuasive skills (like hitting people on the head with a plastic hammer), blackmail, extortion and guilt tripping the Field of Dreams Library at Albert Street School in downtown Jozi is becoming a reality.

Amecon, the construction company who is undertaking the majority of the refurbishment of the old minister’s manse started yesterday. On a Saturday.  AndrĂ© and his team who are so committed to make this happen that they have to work on weekends, free of charge, to fit it into their very busy programme. Amecon hopes to finish the build over four Saturdays.
Alpha Zhou, the school principal was waiting when we arrived. In an overall - to help with the hard craft. So were some of the older kids – carting away rubble, sprinkling water to keep down the dust. We do believe in child labour, not as exploitation but so that they can take ownership of Field of Dreams.
“We want to do things ourselves;” Alpha said, “We cannot expect others to do things for us.” Alpha’s Can Do attitude is one of the reasons why I am involved in the establishment of this library. He’s not waiting for the miracle to come, but making it happen. What else can one expect from a Zimbabwean refugee who once slept on the church pews of Paul Verryn’s Methodist Church when he first came to South Africa?
He dared to dream to start a school for the refugee children two years ago in a disused church building. It grew from a handful of children to more than 450 of which more than a 100 are refugee orphans. They get by on a wing and a prayer, heaps of commitment and passion to ensure a world class education for their children, Albert Street School gets NO government funding, no learning resources, no textbooks  - nothing at all
Alpha and his teachers get a small stipend from the Methodist church to survive. At the end of the 2010 Albert Street had twenty children ready to enter for the Cambridge International Examinations, but there was no funding to enroll the kids. The teachers donated the little income they receive to register the children. Of the 30 kids that entered 21 passed, 10 at A level which gives them university exemption.
This type of commitment and results has to be measured against the South African educational scenario, where teachers strike and schooling is disrupted at the drop of a hat. About 20% of the class of 2010 in government schools qualified for university exemption compared to 70% of those in Albert Street.
I know it’s not a fair comparison because the number of learners does not equate. I also know that dedication and commitment pays huge dividends when one believes the impossible is possible.
Field of Dreams will be greatly assisting these kids to make their dreams a reality.
Thank you to everyone who contributed so far.  

Let’s Rock & Roll
-contribution by Derek Smith

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Plan, implement and conquer: Gauteng getting it right

According to Barbara Creecy, Gauteng MEC for education, their seven percent point  improvement to a 78.6% pass rate is the result of a well planned intervention programme, pupil commitment and a range of productive partnerships between the department, teachers, community and business.

Creecy spoke to the Times about how they managed to accomplish what many thought was impossible in such a short space of time. The department identified six subjects that produced the highest failure rates. These were maths, maths literacy, physical science and English first additional language.In their research process, it fast became clear that the majority of pupils who failed did not come from Gauteng's least functional schools but rather functional schools that could succeed if they were given additional support.

In April 2010 a three year programme dubbed the Secondary School Improvement Plan was launched. The programme gave an improvement target to every participating school and set high expectations that stretched pupil ambition. 1200 of the best teachers were recruited as tutors and about 48 000 grade 12s, almost half of those registered to write matric were invited to participate.

Key elements of the programme included supplementary lessons in the identified subjects, study materials for learners and lesson plans for tutors. At the height of the strike 80 of these groups were meeting daily, this teaching the most valuable lesson: the importance of giving learners and parents greater responsibility for learner achievement. Following the strike  different role players got together and ran the "Save our matrics" campaign in which learning camps were established, extra lessons were offered, Cinema screenings of video lessons were given.

Almost 80 percent of the schools involved showed a vast improvement in their results.

Creecy gives most credit to the learners who took responsibility for their own learning . Other role players include district officials, teachers, private sector and community structures.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rules for success- continued

Previously we looked at setting goals for yourself and your students to ensure that you achieve desired results at the end of the year. We looked at the acronym SMARTER to help design powerful successful goals.

Now we look at the meaning of each letter and provide examples  to help you along.

Specific: Many intended goals fail because they're too ambiguous, woolly and vague. A goal needs to be specific and to the point.
Poor example: The school exam results will be improved on next year.
Good example: In 2011 matric exams, every candidate will pass every subject

Measurable: Dream big but be able to measure the dream. Goals should be measurable  An observer should be able to measure whether or not intended goals were achieved.
Poor example: The school will raise funds to build a library.
Good example: Fund raising events in 2011 will raise R75 000 towards the library

Achievable: Set goals that are challenging and just beyond one's grasp. They need to motivate one to excel but also be reachable.
Poor example: The school will be the best in the country.
Good goal: Excellent overall percentage results will be obtained in the grades three and six standardised annual national assessment.

Realistic:Goals need to be realistic and in relation to resources and man-power.
Poor example: Each learner will have a maths percentage of at least 70%
Good example: Each learner's maths mark will improve by 5% over a year.

Time-bound: Before carrying out a goal set deadlines. Decide what will be achieved by certain dates. Dates become milestones on the journey to achieving goals.
Bad example: the school will build two new classrooms
Good example: R180 000 will be raised by December 2012 on the new classrooms project; the classrooms will be built by June 2012.

Ethical: Goals should be in the best interest of the community.
Poor example: Secure car parking available only for senior management.
Good example: Secure car parking available on a first come, first serve basis for all staff and visitors.

Rewarding: A goal should be well worth doing . Upon completion all parties involved should feel it was all well worth it.
Poor example: Expensive recliner armchair for Principal's office.
Good example: Comfortable chairs for everyone in the staffroom.

Be inspired as you plan your personal, professional and school goals. Dream on but be mindful of Diana Hunt's word, "Goals are dreams with deadlines"

Source: theTeacher, November 2010 pg. 7

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rules for success

Last year we set goal fit for 2010 and have achieved what we could and learnt from mistakes made. 2011 we need to set new goals to ensure that we work smarter towards success.

Last year in an issue of "theTeacher" I came across an article about pre-planning and thought this is definitely something to share with each and everyone of you.
Smarter is an acronym used to help design powerful, successful goals. This acronym makes goal setting easy to formulate and serves as a checklist to determine if the goals are worthwhile. The meaning of each letter is:

S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Achievable
R: Realistic
T: Time-bound
E: Ethical
R: Rewarding

Tomorrow we'll look at the each letter of the acronym individually and provide examples of how this acronym can be implemented in your planning for the year ahead. In the meanwhile, think your goals for your learners and school this year.