Creative Learners

Creative Learners
Learning Brief


New Leaders Foundation

Supporting district officials to improve education delivery

Category: Creative Learners | Education system improvement | 20 August, 2012 - 15:41

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District Service Delivery Improvement Programme

The challenge the NLF programme seeks to address is the consistently poor performance of learners in South African schools across all grades.  This is at the heart of the educational crisis.
 
At a local regional and national level NLF is focusing its efforts at the District office.  NLF has identified the following core challenges facing districts in effectively supporting schools to deliver quality curriculum to learners:
  • A consistent lack of effective support given to school managers and teachers by district officials (most district official will visit a school no more than once a term)
  • Ineffective district management practices – district official abilities to deliver through others is weak.  They mostly manage through crisis driven by the provincial head office.
  • Poor planning and coordination of Provincial Head Office, district  and schools calendars.
  • Lack of coordination and communication across district units in efficiently dealing with school challenges and requests
  • Consistent crisis management in districts – driven by schools and head office demands
In terms of the potential impact if these challenges are addressed
 
In Gauteng there are fifteen district offices each supporting an average of 150-200 schools. At a local level NLF currently works with five districts in the Gauteng Ekudibeng Cluster. An improvement in the effectiveness of the five Ekudibeng district offices would thus impact the quality of curriculum delivery in:
  • +/- 1,000 schools
  • +/- 25,000 educators
  • +/- 500,000 learners
There are eighty five districts in South Africa.  Therefore at a national level addressing the challenges at district level would have a profound impact on the quality of curriculum delivery across the nation.
 
Our strategy
The intended purpose of the District Service Support Programme is to support and up skill district officials in their ability to give schools managers and teachers effective development and support in curriculum delivery.  Improve district officials to improve their ability to effectively support schools.
 
Specific priorities for us are:
  • A two year partnership between NLF and government
  • That the programme is owned at a senior level of leadership within government (Chief Director)
  • To provide Service Support Skills Development Training in first twelve months (6 modules over 9 days)
  • To provide on-site support from full-time immersed NLF consultant for twenty-four months
  • Rigorous monitoring and evaluation
Some of the outcomes that we hope to achieve:
  • Signed partnership agreement
  • Programme integrated into Chief Directors operating framework
  • Improvement in district manager’s capability in managing and developing their team members and team.
  • Improvement in district official’s capability to effectively support and develop school mangers and teachers in delivering quality curriculum.
  • Improvement in district manager’s capability in managing and developing their team members and team.
  • Improvement in district official’s capability to effectively support and develop school mangers and teachers in delivering quality curriculum.
  • Useful termly feedback reports
Lessons learned so far:
 
At this early stage of the programme our key learnings have been the following:
  • Getting buy-in and ownership of the programme from senior government officials at provincial head office was critical.  The programme received significant momentum the moment the Chief Director bought into the programme and took ownership of it.  By placing the programme within the clusters operating framework gave the programme significant status and momentum from within.  The Chief Director sold the programme to the District Directors and they in turn sold it into their districts.  In the districts officials are however suspicious of the programmes value and at face value are giving it time because they have to, because it is owned by the Chief Director.  This at the minimum gives us the opportunity to move and get started, without the usual resistance of getting people into the room to start the work.  
  • The focus of our programme is supporting district officials in how they drive the curriculum delivery model at the school level.  The challenges facing a district are abundant, varied and complex.  It is easy and seductive for our immersed consultants to get pulled into supporting district officials in a myriad of challenges which are not curriculum delivery focused.  The following learnings have supported our immersed consultants in staying focused on supporting district officials to drive curriculum delivery in schools:
  • Assessment process:  the immersed consultants spend a significant amount of time with key district official who influence curriculum delivery support in schools namely the:
  1. Director
  2. Head of institutional development and support (IDS) and all the institutional development and support officers (IDSO’s)
  3. Head of curriculum development and support (CDS) and the CDS coordinators for the four phases.
  • From the assessment process they gave these officials clear and real feedback on  the curriculum delivery impact of what they had assessed and observed.  This has mostly been received very positively.
  • Work with key managers on how they are able to deliver strong curriculum support to schools through their teams.  There has been a very strong expectation and drive from these managers for our immersed consultants to take over their roles and to start to directly manage their teams and people.  This has required our immersed consultants to continuously re-contract with these managers on our role and support.  This has slowed down the process and caused conflict and tough conversations between the immersed coach and the district officials.  However it has and continues to be our most challenging learning in building sustainable capacity in the district. 
 
 

New Leaders Foundation


23 Jan Smuts Ave, Park Town, Johannesburg


 011 - 482 3580


 www.newleadersfoundation.co.za


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