Thousands of learners take part in the 2013 “Winter School” programme

Donald Grant MPP

Minister of Education Western Cape

There are only 123 days to go before the start of the 2013 National Senior Certificate (NSC).

This year, a total of 48 954 full-time candidates have registered for the 2013 NSC. There are therefore 3 393 more full-time candidates than last year.

The Western Cape Government would like to ensure that as many of these candidates write and pass their NSC, and have therefore arranged for additional tutoring and lessons at some of our schools in order to help improve individual school and learner results.

One such school is Esangweni Secondary in Khayelitsha. This morning I visited the school to meet the learners and their tutors taking part in the 2013 “Winter School” programme.

This year 216 high schools will be participating in Grade 12 “winter school” programmes over the June/July holiday period.

Many of the programmes on offer will be taught by tutors selected by the WCED.

In some schools, curriculum advisors will be supporting and assisting individual school programmes.

The WCED has also arranged for additional resource materials to be developed to complement the lessons being presented.

The “Winter School” programme of the WCED will complement existing programmes at high schools in order to improve performance, particularly at our underperforming schools.

An underperforming school is a school with a pass rate of under 60% in the National Senior Certificate examinations.

The Western Cape Government has in a period of four years managed to reduce the number of underperforming schools progressively from 85 schools in 2009 to 26 in 2012. In 2013, we hope to reduce this number even further.

To this end, and in the interests of the learners at these schools, we will continue to implement our plan, which includes a targeted and sustained strategy to support underperforming and struggling schools.

In 2010 a number of strategies were introduced including the following:

  • Ensuring that all Grade 12 learners have textbooks in at least 6 core subjects.
  • Providing Grade 12 learners with the study guideline “Tips for Success” that provides advice on how and what to study for each subject, the structure of exam papers and how to manage study time.
  • Providing learners with previous examination papers.
  • Regular school visits by officials for curriculum support and monitoring.
  • Meetings with learners and parents.
  • Motivational talks by our district directors and staff.
  • Follow up sessions with learners with irregular school attendance.
  • Tutoring of learners over week-ends and holidays by experienced teachers with a record of high learner achievement.
  • Subject specific support to educators to improve curriculum delivery.
  • A Telematics project which broadcasts lessons via satellite in selected subjects to 144 schools after school and over weekends.
  • Personal mentoring by teachers of learners at risk.
  • Providing learners with safe homework and study spaces.

This year’s plan is more focused in that each district has developed an improvement plan to meet individual school needs, as well as, to incorporate some of the successful initiatives above.

Each education district has conducted an analysis of the 2012 NSC results which has been discussed with each of the 26 schools. This also included an analysis of the new Class of 2013 – examining the Grade 11 results of every learner and subject.

Schools have been required to submit their performance targets and their individual improvement plans for the year on the electronic “School Improvement Plan” (SIP). These targets and plans are being monitored quarterly and, where required, the Department is providing appropriate, differentiated support to teachers and school management teams.

Each district has submitted “focus areas” in which they have identified and are specific to each school.

Some of these “focus areas” are;

  • Monitoring the use of textbooks
  • Capacitating School Governing Bodies
  • Weekly progress reports
  • Lesson observation in specific subjects
  • Monitoring of curriculum compliance and pace.
  • Training of Subject Heads of Department to improve their curriculum management skills.
  • Developing the examination setting skills of educators.
  • Improving marking and assessment skills of educators
  • “Lead teachers” to meet with teachers in their subject fields to discuss best practice in planning, methodology and assessment.
  • Learners ‘at risk’ to receive individual support such as counseling, target setting and study plans.

The ‘Winter School’ programme is just one of many interventions by the WCED to help support and assist our Grade 12 learners this year.

This morning learners at Esangweni Secondary in Khayelitsha were being provided additional lessons in Mathematics. I was encouraged by their enthusiasm and am hopeful that the interventions that have been implemented at this school this year, together with the efforts of the teaching staff and learners, they will produce improved results in the 2013 NSC examinations.

The turnout of learners from Esangweni Secondary for the “Winter School” programme is an encouraging step in the right direction and I wish each candidate success in the examinations.

123 days is not a long time, but each of these days is valuable.

Learners must use this time wisely and maximize the time available on their study timetables till their exams at the end of October.

Through the combined efforts of all learners, teachers and parents, as well as support from the Department, I am confident that we can improve learner performance in the NSC examinations.

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