The Pearson Marang Education Trust has reported significant progress in providing support to teachers and school management teams at 111 under-resourced schools.
Deep rural primary and high schools across the country have been assisted to accelerate teaching and learning in the classroom. This help has come through direct provisioning of professional development, support and bursaries for public benefit.
The Pearson Marang Education Trust (PMET) partners with the Department of Basic Education, by working closely with education district offices in selected provinces. Schools are supported and interventions and learnings are shared to allow district officials to engage critically and “roll-out” similar support to schools that are not included in the programme.
PMET Research and Development Manager Dr Nadeen Moolla points out that the Trust made significant progress between 2015 and 2018, working with 111 schools, across six provinces.
“The focus of our work is teacher support and the support of school management teams,” says Moolla, adding that the key factor is the combined focus on professional and personal development of individuals and teams.
Quantitative data was collected annually through assessments conducted with approximately 2000 learners in Maths and Reading to Learn. “The assessment tasks are designed by PMET, and moderated by district officials and lead teachers. Maths assessments are based on Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), while the Reading to Learn assessment tracks specific reading skills required at various levels of reading through schooling years.”
During the period 2015 to 2018, PMET’s research found that in terms of Teaching Learning and Assessment, CAPS is now understood and is being implemented in all schools. Teaching methods are more focused on the learner, and reading-centred methods are infused more effectively in 95% of the schools.
“Lesson planning and preparation has improved in 98% of the schools, while assessment practices in 95% of schools has improved. Classroom management has also improved in 80% of schools,” says Moolla.
As regards Leadership and Management, she notes that policies are now available in all schools and are being implemented in 95% of schools.
School Management Teams (SMTs) are monitoring and supporting staff in 92% of schools, and are planning collaboratively for the year in 90% of schools. Curriculum management is a core task embraced by 87% of SMTs.
Moolla says research into Attitudes and Relationships found that the culture of teaching and learning has improved in 93% of schools, reflecting in positive teaching and learning environments, committed staff, and respect for teaching time.
“Interpersonal relationships amongst staff improved and collaboration between SMT and teachers is more effective (at 98% of schools). Home-school co-operation is more evident, at 72% of schools, with parents more engaged in the education of their children,” she says.
Several community factors were also identified during the study, including that collaboration is needed between the SAPS, social workers, the Department of Social Development, the Department of Health and transport providers to address issues in many schools.
Community factors are not easily addressed, Moolla says, adding that they require community and government intervention.
“Safety and security issues have been addressed with the assistance from School Governing Bodies in some schools in Gauteng and North West,” says Moolla.
Analysing and interpreting research revealed that learner results improved at all grade levels, says Moolla, but points out that the reading challenge is most extreme in Grade 3 and the Mathematics challenge is most extreme in Grade 10.
“Performance in reading increases as learner’s progress through schooling, while performance in Mathematics tends to decline as learners progress from one grade to another,” she says.
“Supported teachers are effective teachers and effective teachers empower learners to learn. The need for quality and consistent support of teachers by district officials and non-profit organisations (NPOs) cannot therefore be overstated.
Learner diversity presents as a serious challenge to teachers, which implies that efforts to support teachers with curriculum implementation must take into account the fact that many learners experience barriers to learning, and many teachers are ill-equipped to address these on a day-to-day basis. This often places a heavy responsibility and burden on principals and SMTs who are tasked with monitoring and supporting teachers as they attempt to deliver a complex and loaded curriculum in a meaningful way.