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Past projects

  • Grasslow Park

    This three-year project worked with Grade 7, 8 and 9 teachers at 26 working-class primary and high schools in Grassy Park, Lotus River and Wynberg in Cape Town. The Grasslow Development Desk, which was a collaborative structure set in place by schools in the region, initiated the relationship with UCT.

    All initiatives in the project were directly aimed at developing and supporting teachers in order to improve learner performance at senior phase level.  Increasingly, teachers who worked at Foundation, Intermediate and FET phase showed interest in the work being done with Senior Phase teachers and some peripheral activities were developed to include them.

    As improving teacher effectiveness was the key to raising learner performance, this intervention focused on:

    1. Professional development activities in the form of accredited certificated and short courses. These included an Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) in Senior Phase mathematics, as well as a set of short courses for mathematics and language.
    2. School-based support focused on improving teacher effectiveness.  This included working with teachers in the classroom and running afternoon workshops on specific areas of the mathematics and language curriculum.
    3. Professional learning communities.  These included professional network meetings for teachers and principals, which provided opportunity for exchange across schools.
    4. With a rapidly changing digital world, the potential for utilizing online learning to increase professional engagement among teachers was a major focus of the project. The project developed a website for teachers with online resources and linked to other teaching websites as well as online sites where Grasslow teachers could communicate with each other and share resources. 

    Project Leader: Ms Anthea Roberts anthea.roberts@uct.ac.za

    Team members: Dr Heather Brookes & Ms Nalini Parsotam (Language), Ms Susan Brundit, Mr Yusuf Johnson & Mr Roger Mackay (Mathematics); Selwyn Page

    Website: www.grasslowpark.uct.ac.za

  • iKwezi Project: Mbekweni 

    This school-based project ran for a three-year period (2003-2005) in five primary and secondary schools in the Boland township. Participating teachers of Mathematics, the Sciences, Literacy and Life Orientation. 

    The intervention took the form of cluster meetings, workshops and classroom-based support.

  • Management for Learning (MFL)

    One of the SDU's first school-based projects, the Management for Learning project (MFL) ran from 2000-2004. It offered an intensive mathematics, literacy and life skills programme in 12 primary schools in the Overberg District. HIV/AIDS and other Life Skills issues were addressed in schools using the Health Promoting Schools approach, which allows for community contributions in dealing with health-related challenges. Funding was provided by ABSA Bank and the EDTP Seta.

  • Rural Education Project (REP)

    This project was a primary school Numeracy and Literacy improvement initiative which ran from 2005 until 2009. Support came from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), the Claude Leon Foundation and the Foschini Group.

    Support was provided to teachers in 38 rural primary schools in the Eden and Central Karoo, Breede River, Overberg, Cape Winelands and West Coast Education Districts. Alongside District officials, the project worked with teachers to improve teaching practice and learner performance in the Foundation (Grades R to 3) and Intermediate Phases (Grades 4 - 6). The close collaboration with circuit managers and curriculum advisors ensured alignment of national and provincial policy and school-level co-ordination of literacy and numeracy interventions.

    In 2008, the WCED made bursaries available to participating teachers to study for an ACE qualification at UCT. At the end of 2009, 17 Foundation Phase and 16 Intermediate Phase teachers from 34 project schools, and one Foundation Phase curriculum advisor from the Eden and Central Karoo District, graduated from this programme.

    As an incentive for improved learner performance, the Foschini Group donated six jungle gyms to REP schools in each year of the project. 

    REP developed and demonstrated a range of sustainable strategies to assist individual and clusters of schools to identify contextual and professional factors related to poor performance. The programme also mediated the WCED Grade 3 and Grade 6 diagnostic test results in order to plan appropriate assessment strategies with teachers.  

    Rural Education Project (REP)

    This project was a primary school Numeracy and Literacy improvement initiative which ran from 2005 until 2009. Support came from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), the

    Claude Leon Foundation

    and the Foschini Group.

    Support was provided to teachers in 38 rural primary schools in the Eden and Central Karoo, Breede River, Overberg, Cape Winelands and West Coast Education Districts. Alongside District officials, the project worked with teachers to improve teaching practice and learner performance in the Foundation (Grades R to 3) and Intermediate Phases (Grades 4 - 6). The close collaboration with circuit managers and curriculum advisors ensured alignment of national and provincial policy and school-level co-ordination of literacy and numeracy interventions.

    In 2008, the WCED made bursaries available to participating teachers to study for an ACE qualification at UCT. At the end of 2009, 17 Foundation Phase and 16 Intermediate Phase teachers from 34 project schools, and one Foundation Phase curriculum advisor from the Eden and Central Karoo District, graduated from this programme.

    As an incentive for improved learner performance, the Foschini Group donated six jungle gyms to REP schools in each year of the project.

    REP developed and demonstrated a range of sustainable strategies to assist individual and clusters of schools to identify contextual and professional factors related to poor performance. The programme also mediated the WCED Grade 3 and Grade 6 diagnostic test results in order to plan appropriate assessment strategies with teachers.

  • iKwezi Lead Teacher Project: Metropole East Education District (MEED)

    Ikwezi was a three-year (2014-2016) teacher professional development project that ran in primary schools in Cape Town’s Metropole East Education District (MEED). The project was built around a Lead Teacher Programme (LTP) that supported the development of Foundation (Grades R-3) and Intermediate Phase (Grades 4-6) mathematics and language teachers drawn from the District’s 100-odd primary schools.

    Through this programme, iKwezi set out to increase the capacity of these teachers to implement the national curriculum and to provide appropriate teaching and learning environments for all their learners. 

    In addition to the university-certified short courses offered as part of the Lead Teacher Programme, site-based support was offered to eight primary schools. Four of these schools, in the African township of Khayelitsha, were the designated Partner primary schools of the University’s Schools Improvement Initiative (SII). The four others were in Blue Downs, a working class community on the eastern edge of the Cape Town Metropole.

    The objectives of the iKwezi Lead Teacher Project were as follows:

    • Strengthen processes of collaboration with MEED at the level of Curriculum Management in support of the implementation of the District Improvement Plan
    • Increase the subject expertise of Foundation and Intermediate Phase Language and Mathematics Lead Teachers and Curriculum Advisors
    • Improve curriculum delivery in a selected number of schools by focusing on Foundation and Intermediate Phase Languages and Mathematics Lead Teachers

    To achieve these objectives, the project offered the following programmes:

    • Grade R & 1 teacher education, training and mentoring programme in Basic Concepts in Language and Mathematics
    • University-approved short courses in English First Additional Language (EFAL); Mathematics; Cognition and Assessment and Teacher Mentoring. These courses aim to build content and pedagogic skills, with a specific focus on supporting the implementation of the new CAPS curriculum in the classroom.
    • Classroom mentoring; enrichment for understanding 'concept teaching' and utilisation of learning and teaching resources in socially and culturally diverse contexts; professional forums and teacher-led conferences.
    • Site-based support for curriculum leadership and professional development activities.

    It is important to emphasize that this project was fully supported by the Western Cape Education Department and was held at a senior level in MEED’s Curriculum Management division. Ikwezi project staff and District Curriculum Advisors worked as one team. In addition, MEED contributed to the cost of the project by funding the short courses.

    Project Leader: Ms Cally Kuhne

    Team members: Mr Gary Powell & Mr Kaashief Hassan (Mathematics); Ms Diane Hendricks & Ms Xoliswa Sibayi (Language); Ms Tami Mhlati (Grade R and 1 general support).

    Funders: DG Murray Trust; HCI Foundation: AusAid; UCT UK Trust

  • IKwezi Pilot Project

    The aim of this ECD and primary school improvement project which ran for three years between 2010-2012, was to improve teaching and learning in language and mathematics from Grades R through 7.

    The project operated in nine primary schools and six of their feeder pre-schools in the Mfuleni and Lwandle townships, located in the Cape Town Metropole and Helderberg basin respectively.

    Professional development was provided through Advanced Certificates in Education (ACE) and the Basic Concepts Programme (BCP). The HCI Foundation provided bursaries to Ikwezi teachers to study for either the ACE in Literacy, Numeracy and Curriculum Leadership in the Foundation Phase, or the equivalent Intermediate Phase qualification. In addition to the formal academic lecture programme, participating teachers were given additional support through tutorials and classroom observation and feedback sessions. Ten teachers graduated from UCT with ACE qualifications at the end of 2012.

    In the Basic Concepts Programme (BCP), teachers were provided with a structured and systematic teaching approach and tools to reflect on their own teaching. Teachers from both the primary and pre-schools attended the programme, thus ensuring that all Grade 1's starting at the project primary schools had similar school preparedness.

    24 Grade R and eight Grade 1 teachers from eight schools and six pre-schools received certificates for the BCP Porgramme; a further eight teachers received certificates for Grade R Literacy, Numeracy and Life Skills courses run on the project's behalf by the Early Learning Resource Unit (ELRU). An additional 18 teachers received certificates for the Literacy module and eight teachers for the Numeracy module also run by ELRU.  

  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

    This two-year project ran between 2009-2010. Based on collaborative work between the International Christian University in Tokyo and the SDU, an ESD module was developed and tested in schools in Cape Town and Toyko. The project was funded by Japan's Ministry of Education, Sport Science and Technology. The collaboration brought together teachers and learners in participating schools in order to build a vision of sustainable development that makes sense across different social, economic and cultural backgrounds. 

    South African teachers had the opportunity to visit Japanese schools, conduct classroom observations and participate in collaborative curriculum development. They also participated in co-teaching and lesson study, a modelfor peer teacher learning developed in Japan. 

  • Zenex-Dinaledi English Language Teaching (ELT) Further Education and Training (FET) Programme

    This two-year (2008-2009) Zenex-funded programme was developed by Rhodes University's Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) for piloting with Grade 10 and 11 English First Additional Language (FAL) teachers in selected Dinaledi schools across four provinces.

    The SDU was responsible for implementation in 15 schools in the Western Cape. The key delivery elements of the programme were: sixty hours of teacher professional development focusing on subject and pedagogic knowledge; cluster workshops addressing teachers' specific needs arising out of their implementation of the programme and classroom support visits.

    Participating teachers were provided with a range of teaching and learning materials and a starter classroom library to encourage independent reading by learners. 

    The project highlighted the challenges teachers' face, particularly those in township schools, as they seek to develop the English communicative competencies of their learners. It also revealed the extent to which English is only nominally the language of teaching and learning (LOLT) in most township classrooms.

  • Out of the Box (OOTB)

    Out of the Box was an initiative of the Old Mutual Foundation. The kit of instructional material, pitched at the primary school level, encouraged teachers to use South Africa's rich environmental and cultural diversity to teach science, mathematics, biology and geography.

    Out of the Box was compiled with the input and partnership of the WWF, WESSA, Maths Centre, Eco-schools, Primary Science Project (PSP), and the Schools Development Unit.

    The SDU was involved in supporting the roll out of the project in 2007-2008 in a selected group of 21 schools in the Overberg and (then) West Coast Winelands Education Districts in the Western Cape. Over 240 teachers and 10 000 learners were involved in project activities over this period.

  • Mathematics & Science Education Project (MSEP)

    The Mathematics and Sciences Education Project (MSEP), funded by the Dutch Royal Embassy, was a joint collaboration between the Schools Development Unit at UCT and the Western Cape Education Department. The team worked in five high schools in the Western Cape between 2009-2012. A major aim of the project was to improve the teaching of mathematics and the sciences in these schools so as to increase the number of their students eligible to entry institutions of higher learning. In order to achieve this, the project team focused on improving teachers’ content and pedagogic skills through various strategies, including providing scholarships for further study, offering professional development through UCT certified short courses and on-site, classroom-based support.

    OUTCOMES

    • 238 learners from the five schools gained entry into the five institutions of higher learning between 2010-2013
    • 731 classroom observations were conducted in the five schools between 2010-2012
    • 1414 school-based engagements were conducted between 2009- 2012
    • Over 25 academic papers and conference presentations were written and delivered
    • 11 teachers improved their formal qualifications between 2010-2012

    While MSEP focused on mathematics and sciences, it also included interventions in the areas of English (First Additional Language -FAL), ICT integration, Life Skills and school management.

    Project Leaders:  Associate Professor Rudiger Laugksch and Dr Jonathan Clark

    Team members: Dr Jacqui Dornbrack (Senior Research Officer); Mr Roger MacKay (Mathematics); Ms Gillian Kay (Physical & Natural Sciences); Mr Andrew Petersen (Life & Natural Sciences); Ms Nalini Parsotam & Ms Marlene Esau (English First Additional Language); Mr Kevin Sherman (ICT); Ms Ferial Parker (Life Skills); Ms Janis Wylie (School Management).

    Funder: Dutch Royal Embassy

 

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