Improving the language and maths skills of our educators in order to improve learner results

Minister Donald Grant

Ministry for Education, Western Cape Government

This holiday, over 12 000 educators will be attending various educator training and development programmes in the Western Cape.

Today, I visited an educator programme at the College of Cape Town – Crawford Campus – which is aimed at improving teaching skills in language and mathematics in the Foundation and Intermediate Phases.

In 2009, this Government made the commitment to improving the language and mathematics levels of our learners.

If we achieve this objective, we will improve the quality of the whole system, enhancing learner performance and improving retention in all grades and ultimately producing better outcomes in the National Senior Certificate.

While this Government has made some progress in improving the language and mathematics skills of our learners, we still have some tough challenges ahead.

Learner performance in Language in Grades 3 and 6 still remains below 50%. Mathematics is particularly concerning, especially in Grade 6, with learners achieving 26.4% in the 2012 Language and Mathematics systemic tests.

Given these results, it is evident that there is still considerable work that needs to be done to ensure that improvements continue.

This year, the WCED has strengthened its language and mathematics strategy to help support schools and educators in improving their language and mathematics results.

All of our schools have been visited by district staff for a joint analysis of their results with the senior managers of these schools. Schools were then required to submit set targets for improvement per grade for the year and, in the case of underperforming schools, specific activity plans on how they will achieve their targets.

The monitoring of ‘academic performance’ and ‘classroom practice” has also increased and the Department has expanded its support to schools.

Training remains an important component of this strategy and throughout the year the WCED is offering workshops and seminars’ that will focus on developing teachers’ knowledge and skills in the areas of language and mathematics.

One such programme is the June/July Language and Mathematics workshop for primary school educators.

This year, the programme focuses on content and teaching strategies.

In Languages, the training includes workshops on “Effective Literacy and Language Development”, “Questioning techniques and Comprehension”, “Independent and Group reading” and “Shared and Independent Writing”.

In Mathematics, educators will have the opportunity to attend workshops on “Numbers, Operations and Relationships”, “Space and Shape”, Measurement”, “Data Handling” and “How to make your school a numeracy hub.”

Approximately 1800 Foundation and Intermediate educators have registered for language training and over 1 900 for mathematics training during this period.

We are very pleased to see so much support for this workshop and we thank our educators for giving up their well-deserved holiday time to improve their teaching skills.

As a result of the strategies that are in place, as well as the continued support of parents, educators, schools and the WCED, I am confident that we will ensure over time improved results in language and mathematics in this province.