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News2nd December 2015

Supporting a new collaborative school model in South Africa

One of the biggest challenges in schools across the world is to ensure that students in lower income communities have access to the same quality of teaching and learning as those from more affluent backgrounds.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) in South Africa is piloting a new model of education to meet that challenge, known as ‘Collaborative Schools’, which Ark is proud to be a part of. The model draws on lessons from the UK academies programme, including Ark schools.

Led by the WCED, the pilot scheme is testing a model of schooling that will strengthen the quality of teaching and learning in public schools, which will remain no-fee and non-selective. In addition to Ark, the schools are being supported by The Millennium Trust, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and DG Murray Trust.

These partners will ensure intensive school-level support to teachers and principals through training, additional resources, monitoring and regular feedback. The WCED will continue to hold the schools and operating partners to account as part of the public education system, and existing teachers at Collaboration Schools will remain WCED employees.

Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education for the Western Cape, said:

“It is incumbent on us as the Western Cape government to try new ways of improving the education system, and particularly to address the inequalities that still persist as a legacy of apartheid. We believe that this model can make a positive difference in providing quality education in poor communities and improving performance in underperforming schools.”

The pilot scheme is being tested in both new and existing schools at both primary and secondary level to provide the most useful evidence base from which to draw conclusions. The pilot is being launched with five schools in 2016, for a period of five years and will look to increase this number as capacity and resources allow, subject to performance of the partners and the schools.

Susannah Hares, Director of International Programmes for Ark, added:

“We are delighted to be working alongside our partners to support the Western Cape government’s collaboration schools pilot. This innovate initiative has the potential to deliver real benefits to learners in the classrooms and to the system as a whole.”

The initial participating schools are:

The initial school operating partners are:

Picture credit: School children (Lukhanyo Primary School, Zwelihle Township (Hermanus, South Africa) source: Wikimedia