Principal Leadership Programme with Professor Fleisch

The Leading for Reading Imbizo marked the launch of the Jbay Wind Farm Principals Leadership Programme, which forms part of the region’s Reading Coach Programme. This event saw school principals, heads of the Foundation Phase in schools, and the Management of the Uitenhage Education District coming together to tackle the learner literacy concerns in the region to ensure that all learners can read fluently by the end of Grade 3.

“The aim of the Principals Leadership Programme is to encourage school leadership to strengthen the partnership between government and the private sector in devising and sustaining strategies in local schools that will promote reading in the Foundation Phase in the short term and improve education outcomes for learners in the long term,,” explained Marion Green-Thompson, Economic Development Director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

Guest speaker Brahm Fleisch, Professor of Education Policy and Head of the Division of Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the Wits School of Education, set the scene and shared information about the state of reading in South Africa. He proposed ways in which schools and district leaders can improve the teaching and learning of reading.

This topic is of extreme importance as indicated by research which consistently shows that South African children do not read at the expected levels by the time they complete Grade 3. Children who cannot read for meaning find it very difficult to keep up in the later grades, and are silently excluded from further learning. This leads to grade repetition and school dropout, and of course has profound socio-economic effects on our society.

“In collaboration with the Department of Education, Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) is being introduced into the schools with which we work” added Green-Thompson.

The Imbizo was attended by twelve foundation Phase heads from the twelve schools that are supported by JBay Wind Farm, as well as an additional six schools in the same Circuits. In addition to this twelve education officials from the Uitenhage District joined the Imbizo.

The Principals Leadership Programme extends beyond the event, with Principals receiving ongoing support visits and attending future various meetings and workshops for the duration of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm Reading Coach Programme.

Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm has funded a Reading Coach project in 12 primary schools in Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, Hankey, and Patensie for two years. The project started in August 2014, and provides schools with a Reading Coach and reading resources for children in the Foundation Phase. Principals have always been involved in the project, particularly in the recruitment and selection of Reading Coaches for their school. Reading Coaches, who were previously unemployed matriculants, report to a Mentor (a senior Foundation Phase teacher, often head of the FP Department), who guides their work.

“We hope that participants in the Imbizo will have a renewed understanding of the seriousness of the situation in South Africa, the importance of reading as a foundation of all further learning, some good practical ideas to implement in their schools, and renewed enthusiasm and excitement about teaching reading. We hope that district officials will feel excited about supporting school leadership as they strengthen reading in their schools” concluded Green-Thompson.

ABOUT PROFESSOR FLEISCH: Guest speaker, Prof Fleisch, is a well-known and reputable academic and author. He combines two key competences: an understanding of education leadership and policy (important when working with principals and district leaders), and an understanding of the curriculum, particularly around reading and mathematics in the early grades. Prof Fleisch’s book (Why South African schoolchildren underachieve in reading and mathematics) explores the complex causes of children’s underachievement, from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Children in the JBWF local schools face a range of socio-economic and school issues that impact on their ability to learn to read and write at the expected level. Prof Fleisch has made a careful study of the evidence that he explains in his book. Please see here for a detailed review of the book in the Mail and Guardian.

Please see here for a detailed review of the book in the Mail and Guardian.