Nkotobona High School has a total of 235 learners and 13 educators and is in the Greenvalley Circuit in the Bohlabela Education District of Mpumalanga. This rural school has been on a journey of improvement from October 2014 as part of the NECT District Improvement programme.
Over the past 3 years there has been a steady improvement in the NSC Results of the school as depicted in the graph below, with the milestone of a 100% pass rate being achieved in 2017. The 37% improvement in pass rate between 2016 and 2017 is very encouraging.
There are many factors which contribute to this, however, over the past 3 years the SMT of the school has been given focused support by a Management & Leadership Change Agent to assist them in the implementation of key management practices and systems. A solid foundation has now been laid. The Principal and other SMT members have responded positively to the support provided and have implemented the systems and tools shared with them.
The following are some of the key improvements that have been made:
• Proactive curriculum management by SMT’s using a tool known as the “HOD’s Curriculum Tracker”
• Curriculum management issues are discussed, reported and acted on at the monthly SMT meetings of the school
• Curriculum management issues are now being discussed and raised with staff by the HOD’s through the regular subject meetings they are now holding, or where relevant, on a 1-1 basis with individual teachers
• The tracking and proactive management of learner and educator absence by the SMT, which is now a standing item for SMT meetings
The Principal of the school, B.Nake, had the following to say: “We want to express how helpful the NECT programme has been to our school. The regular visits kept us on our toes in terms of curriculum tracking and management. We were given beneficial and impactful assistance and guidance in terms of filing and document management, on monitoring and evaluation of teachers, learner support, alignment of our time-table to the notional time allocations, the building of positive relations between the SMT and SGB and finally in terms of building good relations among staff members through teamwork.”
In 2017 the school also implemented the following for its Grade 12 pupils which would have contributed to the 100% pass rate:
• Extra classes for progressed learners with a focus on difficult topics
• An increase in informal assessment through the writing of monthly tests
• Saturday Camps , almost every weekend , for the Grade 12 Learners
• Parental support to ensure that learners were in class
It was positive to see that the support provided to the Grade 8 & 9 Mathematics Teacher also paid dividends. There was a marked improvement in the quality of the passes in Term 4 2017 Mathematics for Grades 8 and 9 compared to Term 4 2016, with 80% and 60% more learners respectively achieving a Level 4-7 pass in Mathematics in 2017 compared to 2016!
It’s important to note that in 2017 there was a 100% and 98% pass rate for Mathematics in Grade 8 and Grade 9 respectively. The same teacher taught these grades in 2016 and 2017 and is now following the required routines and methodologies with good content knowledge.
He had this to say: “The constant visits from the Mathematics Change Agent assisted with ATP tracking and adherence as well as in terms of content coverage. I was provided guidance in the use of the DBE workbooks as well as on lesson planning and presentation. In addition, the content aligned workshops I attended boosted my confidence and were beneficial. It was also positive that the visits of the mathematics Change Agent was not focused on fault-finding but rather on giving me the assistance and support I needed.”
Finally, the school has been assisted to work through and resolve many challenges which included strained relationships within the SMT, between staff members, poor learner and teacher discipline and uncontrolled absence.
An additional positive has also been the improvement in parental involvement through a programme which works with parent volunteers in the school and the SGB. One initiative the parents undertook was to ensure that the pupils are in class at all times and to assist in maintaining discipline during breaks. The parent volunteers have a roster to patrol the school grounds during the school day.