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A call to action! Part one

| March 23, 2020 | 0 Comments


I left the independent school sector at the end of 2011 after nearly 30 years as a teacher, deputy principal and finally principal of St Mary’s Junior School, Waverley and then St Andrew’s Junior School for Girls in Johannesburg.

Since then, I have worked with non-profit organisations (NPOs) (particularly the British Council1 and the Thandulwazi Trust2) as well as in several independent schools, training teachers all over South Africa. I have also put several of my leadership and management and 21st century teaching and learning workshops online through Educate 243 and through my own website, I am often asked why independent schools do not do more for state schools when they have so much to offer. It’s a difficult question to answer, as I know that many of the ISASA schools run their own community affairs programmes and are involved in work in schools in less well-resourced areas. But I often wonder if Helen Keller was right when she said, ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’4 Most schools run community affairs projects independently of one another. Sometimes projects are run in the same areas, such as Alexandra township,5 but in different fields –for example, improving learners’ results in their Grade 12 examinations or developing school leadership and management skills.

What if:

• independent schools worked together to improve the quality of teaching and learning in one area?

• ISASA ’s corporate partners teamed up with likeminded independent schools and helped them with training, coaching and resources?

There are three initiatives, in which I am involved, that I would like to share with you. The first is the British Council Connecting Classrooms IV programme,6 the second is a new initiative called Sponsor a Teacher, and the third is HRSS’s workreadiness programme for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) students and graduates. Although based in Johannesburg, all three of these initiatives can be run anywhere in South Africa or further afield, if there is sufficient interest shown.

1. Connecting Classrooms IV

In September 2018, the British Council, in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID), launched a new phase of Connecting Classrooms.7 The programme will run for the next three years in more than 30 countries worldwide, including the UK. During this time, the British Council will work with 60 000 teachers and school leaders, and support 4 750 schools to work in partnership. Connecting Classrooms IV is about enhancing school systems to provide all young people with a quality education, enabling them to develop the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their goals. Connecting Classrooms IV supports the improvement of teaching and learning in both the UK and South Africa in the following key areas:

1. professional development for teachers and school leaders

2. international school partnerships

3. access to quality online classroom resources for teachers

4. professional dialogue opportunities for policy-makers to support national and regional educational priorities

5. providing young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to make a positive contribution now and in the future. Young people will be better equipped to live and work in a global economy, and to support/take action to tackle global poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The professional development programmes under Connecting Classrooms IV that are offered in South Africa are all endorsed by the South African Council of Educators (SACE)8 and have been contextualised for the South African system. They are as follows:

• Level 1 for teachers and leaders: Introduction to Core Skills for Teachers and Leaders

• Level 2 for teachers: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving for Teachers

• Level 2 for teachers and school leaders: Inclusive Pedagogies

• Level 1: school leaders only: An Introduction to Core Skills and Leadership Development

• Level 2: school leaders only: Instructional Leadership.

What if:

• independent schools in South Africa introduced this programme to one of the smaller low-fee-paying independent schools or state schools with which they work?

• independent schools provided a venue free of charge to enable the British Council to run a workshop for these schools?

• independent schools sponsored the cost of the facilitation of these workshops for these schools?

If you are interested in finding out more about the programme, or how you could help the British Council reach more schools in South Africa, please contact the project manager, Thabisa Ndlazi at the British Council in Cape Town, at e-mail: visit the British Council South African website at: download a soft copy of the Connecting Classrooms overview and South African offer. Find part two of this article in the winter edition of Independent Education 2020. Cathy Fry is managing director at Ukhanyiso Ebantwini (Pty) Ltd. Visit: learn more.


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7. See: concise_report.pdf

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Category: Autumn 2020

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