Parents on board new teaching model

Debbie Schafer

Oranjekloof Primary School parents are now “overwhelmingly” in support of the Western Cape Education’s Department’s (WCED) collaboration project, piloted at the school a year ago.

That is according to Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, who said there had been a lot of suspicion and misconceptions spread by parties when the project was initially launched.

“Now the parents are so satisfied that they wish to continue with it for another year.

“I have constantly emphasised the need for greater involvement by parents in their children’s schooling careers and I am pleased to witness
the extent of parental involvement at Oranjekloof Primary School.

“Parents have exercised their voice increasingly with a record number of parents attending meetings and standing for governing body positions.”

The WCED started the pilot programme – planned to run for the next five years – to test a new model of schooling that ropes in managerial and training resources from the private sector to support schools in need.

It runs on a non-profit basis with the full agreement of the participating SGB.

“The processes we have undergone at this school have set important precedents, enabled parents to assert greater control over the schools, understand what quality education looks like and empowered them to expect more from their schools,” Ms Schäfer said.

The Collaboration Schools Pilot began at five schools in January last year.

“We now have seven public schools currently operating as collaboration schools – four primary and three high schools – across four of the Western Cape’s districts.

“Since the inception of this new model, the funders have committed over R75 million to the pilot. Of this amount, R31.8 million has flowed to the schools directly and an additional R37.8 million has been provided to the non-profit partners who have brought additional capacity to the schools in the form of governance, training, support and social capital.

“The operating partners have been working with schools to develop specific school improvement plans and implemented these plans.”

Ms Schäfer said the department was currently in talks with another three schools that could come on board in 2017. This would bring the total number of collaboration schools to 10.

“We aim to double this number to include 20 schools in the collaboration schools pilot by 2018. I believe that this model can make a real impact in addressing the ongoing inequalities in education between rich and poor communities.”