Management programme of schools bears fruit

Sound and effective management of schools is critical to improving the quality of South Africa’s education system, particularly in the rural areas and marginalised communities.

The Performance Management Development Programme (PMDP) is a programme which develops and supports school principals and other management staff to improve the effectiveness of the schools that they manage. The PMDP recently reached an important milestone of a long-term initiative as part of a collaboration with the Mpumalanga Department of Education. The PMDP attributes the success of its results to the hard work, determination and commitment of all stakeholders to improving the quality of basic education in South Africa – with the overall aim of improving the quality of teaching and learning at classroom-level.

During the first part of the intervention in 2015, the performance in learner outcomes at Grade 12 level were, on average 6.5% higher than the previous year’s. The recent cohort which was completed during 2017 will be measured on their 2017 Grade 12 outcomes.

Reports from the Mpumalanga Department of Education are positive particularly around the manner in which the programme weaves curriculum management into the core business of schools at all levels. The PMDP is a six-month practical training programme for school principals of primary and secondary schools as well as circuit managers. The premise is that good management practices will result in improved learner performance at schools.

The PMDP, which has been introduced at over 3000 schools in three Provinces, is one of the few programmes which operates at scale and at cost per school which can be sustained by the Department. The programme provides focused and structured training around selected management practices, such as curriculum management, planning, attendance management, to mention a few, which have shown a positive effect on learner outcomes. Led by PwC and Performance Solutions Africa, the SACE accredited program is moderated by the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) as a short learning programme.

A key challenge encountered in the province of Mpumalanga has been the backlog of ‘progressed’ learners that have adversely impacted learner pass rates. The provincial results in all four regions have dropped below those of previous years, while the scale of progressed learners was over 20,000 pupils in some districts.

However, in the case of the PMDP schools, all districts improved on their results in the previous year – some by over 7%. The impact of progressed learners on matric results is demonstrated in the case of the Free State province which dealt with the backlog some years earlier than other provinces and accordingly posted the best set of results for the country in 2016.

At the PMDP Awards ceremony held in July 2017, Dr Mthethwa, Director for Teacher Development and Governance in Mpumalanga praised the PMDP for bringing benefits not only to the principals in the schools but also to the circuit managers who were part of the programme. In her speech, Dr Mthethwa commented: “The PMDP model of the programme is very, very strong … a great strength is working in partnerships – we have been given the opportunity to work side by side on this programme… we began to speak from one script. There has been a deep sense of being solution driven here. The programme has had a very strong research base, which to us is a plus... When reflecting, we are looking at systemic capacity building that has been imparted.”

The vote of thanks was deliberated by Dayalan Govender, PwC Director: Advisory – People & Organisation, who commented in his opening remarks to the graduates: “You have now been empowered with all the necessary management skills & competencies to go out there a make a difference in your respective schools. You have successfully completed the programme – but the journey of implementation, ploughing back and making a difference within your circle of influence, has just commenced.”

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