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Professional Learning Communities as a scalable professional development solution to address learning barriers

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) present teachers and principals with an opportunity to improve their level of competence by sharing inclusive practices. In a PLC, classroom teachers, school managers and subject advisors come together to collectively determine their professional development needs according to the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development 2011-2025. PLCs are needs-driven and stimulate collaborative learning, the characteristics of effective Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD).

In collaboration with the DBE and PEDs, the Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB) initiated 12 inter-school pilot PLCs amongst foundation and intermediate phase teachers from public ordinary, full-service and special schools in the Free State, North West and the Northern Cape provinces during 2017 and 2018. Findings of the pilot were established through data collection and analysis in a collaboration between the Central University of Technology, Sol Plaatje University, KU Leuven (Belgium) and VVOB South Africa.

Teachers who participated in the pilot perceived the PLCs to be effective when they are needs-driven; supported by school management; skilfully facilitated; based on mutual trust and respect; regularly guided by input from external experts; and when participating teachers share a sense of collective responsibility for student learning. Findings also reveal that participation in the PLC pilot improved the knowledge and skills of teachers, and supported them to adapt their teaching strategies to reach all learners. The PLC pilot was implemented through funding from the European Union and the Belgian Government.

These findings were recently shared with the DBE and the South African Council for Educators (SACE), and the DBE is planning to take these findings forward through revitalising school-based PLCs. PLCs create effective learning opportunities and offer an opportunity for departmental officials to establish needs, and base further content support to educators upon those needs.

Click on the below links for additional information:

Professional Learning Communities – A guideline for South African Schools

Professional Learning Communities of School Principals

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