Posts

Showing posts from September, 2015

School newsletters are a powerful, strategic resource to engage school communities.

Image
School newsletters are a powerful, strategic resource to engage school communities. There are many schools that send monthly or fortnightly newsletters, yet there are schools that issue weekly newsletters in the areas where I work.

Delta Primary School is one of the schools that sends weekly newsletters to parents. The new principal, Hilton Palanyandi, explained the purpose of their weekly newsletters.

"I have learned from other schools. I have looked at the various models used by other schools and felt that the weekly newsletter serves our needs. There is so much happening at the school and the newsletter helps to bridge the communication gap between the school and the parents.

Parents and learners receive the news briefs about important school business and learner achievements in and outside the classroom. We are also using the newsletter to tackle the problem of late coming at our school and we have had success.

Addressing latecoming
Late coming was a huge problem at our scho…

Make your School Improvement Plan a living document for everybody at the school.

Image
The online School Improvement Plan (SIP)

Before the end of the third term, the Western Cape Schools should have completed their online  DRAFT School improvement plan (SIP) for 2016. The online SIP includes a school-self evaluation component and an Action plan.


The online SIP  was introduced about three years ago as a systems-planning tool for schools, education districts and the provincial education department. Schools are required to complete certain components of their SIP 2016, one of which is the ACTION plan by the end of the third term. The online SIP will then be signed off and accepted in January 2016, after input from the IMG Manager.


Schools are alienated from their own SIPS
Most schools usually rush to complete their online Draft SIP as a last minute exercise.  In their haste to comply, many schools do very little or no consulting with their other stakeholders like their teachers, support staff and parents. This oversight is especially evident when we discuss the academic …

The parents establish their SGB Forum in the Retreat-Steenberg-Lavender Hill area.

Image
Today the School Governing Bodies in the Retreat-Steenberg-Lavender Hill belt established their historic SGB Forum. The SGB forum was a seed that was planted about three years ago by Noel Isaacs, the principal of Floreat Primary School. At the time four of our school principals headed the School Governing Training and Development Programme that was offered to the SGBs in our circuit.


Then, this year, after our circuit had taken our newly-elected SGBs on an overnight training camp, one of the parent governors at Lourier Primary School, Basil Williams, approached Noel to set the ball in motion.  The rest as they say, is history. Today the parent governors with their school principals, agreed unanimously that an SGB Forum will be a powerful support structure for their schools.


Most of the representatives of the schools' SGBs showed up at the meeting that was held at Delta Primary School.



The governors agreed on the following broad objectives of the SGB Forum:


The SGB Forum should be a…

The Centre for Conservation celebrates Heritage Day with a focus on the 28 Heath Region schools.

Image
This year the Centre for Conservation designed their Heritage celebrations around the twenty eight "Heath" schools. The Heath region covers schools in the Diep River, Plumstead, Southfield, Heathfield and Retreat area. The youngest school is the Cafda School of Skills in Retreat while the oldest school is St. Anne's Primary School in Plumstead.


The term "Heath Schools" was chosen as a tribute to the erica verticillata, commonly known as heath. That is where Heathfield got its name. The erica verticillata, a beautiful plant that belongs to the Fynbos family is now extinct in the wild. The Heathfield and Retreat schools are situated in areas that were once covered with vleis and wetlands where these ericas with their tubular flowers grew prolifically.



Sigi Howes, the Head of the Education museum, told a beautiful, poignant story of the eco-political heritage of the schools. The schools on this part of the Cape Flats are linked to the "shame" part of ou…

School principals and their SMTs can make or break their schools.

Image
While I was waiting to convene a grievance meeting at a school, I had an interesting conversation with two school management team leaders - a deputy principal and a head of department. The main topic of our conversation was the difficulty to get their own children into schools of their choice.

The head of department was disappointed because her daughter, a high achiever (95% average), was not accepted at the school that was their first choice. She spoke about the competition to get into good schools and bemoaned the powers that these schools wield.


Is the school principal responsible for the school's success?
Inevitably, the conversation turned to the difference between poor schools and wealthy schools and the role the principal plays in managing and leading the school to success. Here is where the conversation became interesting. There was definitely a sense that the two senior management members believe that  only the school principal is accountable for the success of the schoo…

Protect teaching time at all costs.

Image
Schools that do not protect teaching time have the most problems. This is a fact.  There are many contextual issues that play a role, but class teaching time is the teacher's domain.  Before we look at the external issues, we need to ensure that the classroom environment is structured in favour of good, solid teaching and learning.



There are certain fundamentals that must be in place when we talk about protecting teaching time.

 Firstly, teachers must be in their classes on time.
 If teachers are habitually late or absent from their classes, children will take over the space. This is not rocket science. There will be a breakdown in discipline because the children have been allowed to  run wild.  If this situation happens, then the teacher must take responsibility for the chaos and the waste of teaching and learning time.

Secondly, there must be a deliberate intention to devote the lesson time to  disciplined teaching and learning. 
Every lesson should be a mission to be accompl…