The final report from South Africa

As the project comes to a close we hear what has been acheived.

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Well Guys, the VT Team have made their retreat to the UK dragging their heels as I know we all share the same view - the project was just not long enough!

This update is with regards the last 10 days of the Vocational Training project for Livangeli Primary school teaching team and the Education Advisors of the Kwa Zulu Natal region. You may recall in the first two updates:

Week 1 - Quality review of current teaching practices in the school with lesson observations of all teachers

Week 2 & 3

  • Individual feedback and action plans given to all teachers
  • Training for 16 Education Advisors, to roll out similar practices across 510 schools over time
  • Attendance of 20 out of 22 teachers to a full days training during a public holiday
  • Model lessons taught and observed by teachers; team teaching and further development and coaching of teachers 
  • Lesson planning and differentiation training
  • English and Maths team training/ team work
  • IT training for managers
  • Case study reading project with individual readers on a 1:1 basis
  • Leadership and management development of the 5 managers
  • Coaching and leadership development for the Principal
  • Visits to two other comparable primary schools by VTT
  • Visit by Advisor team manager who was extremely impressed and requested the team to stay...  

Week 4

The fourth week began on the Saturday with a Children's Activity Day which invited local children in to take part in a range of simple activities which involved three zones - Art & Craft (making masks out of paper plates), singing (a range of action music including Superman which was a big hit) and sport relays. The final zone involved all children (65) joining in together with party games. Oh yes, this was so much fun and the 6 teachers who also attended voluntarily looked like they had as much fun as the children, if not more.

The rest of the week was more formal with further reviews of all teachers with noticeable improvements such as:

  • Evidence of improved lesson planning with some differentiation, particularly with Foundation area; 
  • Greater development of teaching and learning covering open questions
  • Use of physical and kinaesthetic activities
  • Use of other spaces such as outdoor area and activity rooms
  • Rewards charts displayed in all classrooms and reward system introduced across the school
  • Use of music by some teachers to enhance learning experience
  • Use of praise in the teaching and learning environment

After this final week of observations and monitoring of progress Individual feedback and action plans were given to all teachers again for further development which must be monitored by school managers.

Management training involved reviewing performance of some teachers measuring their skill and their motivation. Where there was some specific concern, meetings with individual teachers were carried out with coaching guidance for the managers and actions set for individual teachers.

The school experienced visits by 4 advisors from the Department of Education. One of which was the SEN advisor who took specific interest in individual learner cases that had been identified by the team (especially on the Case study reading project). The Round Table Club also visited with interest in the project and have some additional funding available and they wanted to know what they could support with the project we had delivered (such as further resources for the library).

Review meeting with Mr Majola - Director of Education in the region of KZN with a presentation of the success and the need for sustainable development to continue to ensure the teaching and learning of the young people in the area is beneficial.

The final week was a difficult one as we could have done with more time to finalise and just embed things a little bit further. The team critiqued themselves and felt more needed to be done but realistically this was not possible. 

The last day for the team at the school was wonderful as we sang "if your happy and you know it" in the play ground at break time with about 200 children swarming us, followed by an attempt to do the Hokey Cokey. 

The school staff on the other hand were so grateful for the support that had been given that they did a farewell party for us which was just incredible and very moving. It began with the teaching team in their native costumes chanting as they came across the field to collect us. As they approached it was with real warrior style and so moving, it made us all goosy!

They sang and danced for us; they presented us with a gift and dressed us with their national flag being made into a robe for each of us. In return we presented them with certificates of attendance on the professional development programme and the best performing area of Grade R was presented with a special award. We had also introduced a teacher's reward chart and this was presented with a small trophy.

The managers were all presented with the new laptops and laptop rucksacks.

The VT Team left on a high and then had a further send off from Dundee Rotary Club as we left for Durban to attend the Rotary District 9270 Annual conference at which we presented. This got a fabulous response and we were approached all weekend by many who wanted to know more. 

The team certainly rose to the challenge and have set the standard remarkably high for any future VTT programmes to match. Every group of people that have met the VT Team have been overwhelmed by the energy of the team - the VT Team is infectious!