District offices are the government’s direct point of support to schools. The district's role and function is to support school teachers, principals, and parents to provide quality teaching and learning. As a result, New Leaders Foundation (NLF) has developed a District Service Support Programme (DSSP) to foster systemic change that will improve learner outcomes through improved district support to schools.
DSSP works to improve the quality of support that districts provide to schools by
- developing key district officials into coaches of curriculum delivery and managementand and
- capacitating districts to manage and leverage partnerships
Developing coaching capacity: Over a four year period, NLF has been testing and evolving the DSSP in partnership with six districts in Gauteng to support district officials in changing their approach to curriculum management and delivery support to schools. The DSSP provides training in basic management and problem solving skills to all district managers in the six districts and curriculum facilitators (subject specialists who support and develop teachers from Grades R to twelve).
The core component of the model is the immersion of full-time coaches (Immersed Consultants, ICs) into each district. ICs work with district managers to drive coaching as a core management skill through one-on-one mentoring and team sessions. Sessions include preparations, observations of district officials providing support to schools, and reflection. All officials in the program receive 12 days of coaching training over 1.5 years. The model has been refined to ensure future work includes all district curriculum facilitators (~40-60 per district).
Developing partnerships capacity: The DSSP also partners with private sector organisations and NGOs who are working in the schools within each district to align around a common goal and objective of improving learner outcomes.
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CEI approaches in action
The immersed consultants and the training have been provided to the districts free of charge, through externally-sourced funds. The resultant work improves the capacity of the district to provide support to all schools within their jurisdiction and all of these are public schools thereby benefiting learners from all income levels.
Number of districts: 6
Indirectly impacted: 500 district officials, 875 schools, 25,000 teachers, 80,000 students
The DSSP began in one district including three high schools and six primary feeder schools in Gauteng in 2010. NLF initially worked directly with schools, with the aim of providing services to improve learner performance. The focus of the work shifted to district level to improve the capacity of district officials to support the schools. In 2012, NLF entered a partnership to support five additional districts in the Ekudibeng region of Gauteng.
In 2014, NLF entered into a partnership with the national Department of Basic Education (DBE) with the aim for the DSSP to be implemented in all provinces. This partnership will test the potential scale of the model as it will be replicated in all education districts in South Africa. Through this partnership with the DBE, NLF will work to roll out the DSSP to all provinces through the use of external partners. NLF will also provide a supervisor for each of the provinces to provide oversight and quality control and be responsible for the training of all district officials across the 86 district offices in South Africa. In addition to this, the vision is for NLF to be responsible for the implementation (i.e., serve as the external partner) of the DSSP in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Monitoring & Evaluation
- Customer Satisfaction Survey to enable the district officials to rate the level of support provided to them by their Immersed Consultant (coach)
- School Principals Survey to enable the school principals to rate the level of service provided by the district offices
- Qualitative reports developed as a result of the ICs sitting with the district leadership on a regular basis to document and monitor outcomes and learnings
- Qualitative reflections from the officials and school leaders on a regular basis to give us feedback on what has changed so we can monitor the progress
- Statistics on numbers of coaches and coaching sessions held by the Immersed Consultant (coach)
- School performance indicators (e.g. syllabus coverage, teacher and learner attendance, school based assessments)