Saide has been evaluating the Gauteng Education Development Trust Communities of Practice (CoP) Programme provided by BRIDGE for school principals in the Gauteng Ekurhuleni Region. The focus is on building trusting relationships amongst school Principals in order to shape school improvement, and in particular, curricular matters. Najma Agherdien reports.
BRIDGE selected this approach for the school leadership programme as they believe that Communities of Practice (CoP) offer morale-building, fellowship and together build a shared vision for building innovative solutions to problems.
Notwithstanding many positive changes in the past few years, South African schools remain contested spaces. In the context of poverty-stricken school communities, health-related issues and social ills, leadership becomes very challenging (Smit, 2017). Principals (as visionary leaders) are increasingly being drawn on to make the necessary shifts to allow schools to cultivate successful student learning experiences. As part of the continuous professional development (CPD) of school principals, the Gauteng Education Development Trust (GEDT) funded the establishment of communities of practice (CoPs), with BRIDGE as the service provider.
Saide was involved in the evaluation using a developmental approach from the outset of the CoP programme. The aim of the evaluation was to provide robust and rigorous evidence of the value of the expanded programme in terms of financial investment, accomplishment of the programme objectives and overall contractual compliance. Methodology used was conducting interviews with participants and facilitators, gathering data through an online survey and attending scheduled CoP meetings as a means of observation.
The question that guided the evaluation was:
How and why does the programme translate into action (or non-action) and how can the programme be improved going forward?
A needs analysis was conducted asking principals why they had joined the CoP and what leadership issues they needed assistance with. They were also asked what value they expected to receive from the CoP engagements.
Further questions around the Principal’s role (within the school/community and district), what worked and what did not were explored and suggested recommendations for the improvement of the CoP were discussed.
The evaluation will be concluded by the end of 2017.