“Whole School Evaluation (WSE) is not an end in itself, but the first step in the process of school improvement and quality enhancement. As a process, it is meant to be supportive and developmental,” said Dr Granville Whittle, Acting Deputy Director-General for Teacher and Professional Development, addressing delegates at the WSE Lekgotla. The Lekgotla took place at the DBE in Pretoria from 25 to 26 September 2018, under the theme: “Repositioning and Strengthening Whole School Evaluation Implementation in the Education Sector”.
Delegates were actively engaging in discussions to advocate an integrated approach to WSE and to map out a strategic focus for school evaluation and accountability to improve learning outcomes. WSE is achieved through conducting School Self-Evaluations (SSEs), which is a process of reflection on systemic practice to improve learner performance, teaching practice and school functionality. WSE also encompasses external on-site evaluations using standard evaluating criteria for schools to improve the educational achievements of all learners. School Improvement Plans (SIPs) are also part and parcel of the WSE process to provide a road map that sets out the interventions that are required to improve both learner achievement and school functionality.
Professor Anil Kanjee from the Tshwane University of Technology and Professor Anne Mc Lennan from the Wits School of Education, offered interesting insights on Whole School Evaluation. In his presentation, Professor Kanjee looked at the topic of repositioning WSE to address the challenge of equity and quality in schools to confront the tension between accountability and support. Prof Mc Lennan examined practices in support of WSE in schools.
A panel discussion involving a school principal, Circuit Manager and a WSE supervisor provided a perspective from the three different levels of operation. They shared their experiences and affirmed the utility of WSE for purposes of school improvement. The Lekgotla attendees also participated in three commissions to discuss the holistic integration of the nine WSE focus areas in providing support for the development of schools; external school evaluations; and the institutionalisation of SSE in the sector.
In conclusion, Ms Simone Geyer, Chief Director for Education Human Resources Management, reiterated the recommendation of the house that WSE should continue across all nine provinces and must lead to Whole School Improvement. The Policy on Whole School Evaluation (2001) must be realigned to current challenges and developments within the sector by embracing the 12 features that support school improvement. SSE and SIP should be institutionalised into the system as a whole, and quality evaluation tools must be developed and implemented evenly across provinces. Circuit Managers and District Officials must be capacitated to deliver on the WSE programme. In moving forward, a “Think Tank” consisting of officials, social partners, as well as external experts should be established to give further insight to the recommendations emanating from the WSE Lekgotla deliberations. Recommendations will be presented to HEDCOM for further discussion.