Michelle Jones

Education Writer

GRADES 4, 5 and 6 pupils are in school for an extra hour each week, and not because they’re in trouble, but as part of changes to the education curriculum.

Changes to the timetable are due to the implementation of Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (Caps), the revised curriculum which was rolled out at schools last year. Caps was implemented in Grades 4, 5, 6 and 11 this year, and in Grades 1, 2, 3 and 10 last year.

Changes are to be made in Grades 7, 8, 9 and 12 next year.

Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said that the additional hour had been added to the timetables of Grade 4 to 6 pupils while the timetables of Grade 11 pupils had remained unchanged.

The new curriculum would mean that Grades R to 2 pupils had 23 hours of teaching time, Grade 3 pupils had 25 hours and Grades 4 to 12 pupils had 27.5 hours a week.

Casey said that schools arranged their own timetables and were not instructed when to add the additional time.

Christie Fourie, principal of De Kuilen Primary in Kuils River, said they had chosen to add 15 minutes to each day, at the end of the school day.

Pupils were now at school between 7.45am and 2.15pm each day. Fourie said there had been no complaints from parents about the changed timetable. “They have accepted it as is, because it is very necessary.”

Principal of Tamboerskloof Primary, Joy McGilton, said additional time had been added to the end of each Monday. The day would now end at 4.35pm.

She said some parents had complained about the change but it had been explained that it was necessary.

“This year a couple of parents are unhappy because it affects transport in the evening.”

Casey said that a specified number of hours had been allocated to individual subjects with the additional time needed for languages and maths.

“The time for languages has been increased to 11 hours per week. This is a 70 percent increase from the 6.5 hours allocated previously for languages.”

She said six of those hours were allocated to Home Language and five hours to First Additional Language.

“One reason for an increased attention to First Additional Language is that for many learners English is not their Home Language but it is their medium of instruction. Also, in Grades 4 to 6 for mathematics there is now 6 hours per week – an increase of 26 percent over the previous 4.75 hours.”

Casey said pupils should spend 5.5 hours in the classroom for instructional time each day with additional time added for breaks, assemblies, administration and extramural activities.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga introduced the changes to the curriculum in July 2010.

Every subject in each grade now has a single, comprehensive and concise curriculum and assessment policy statement that will provide details on what teachers should teach and assess.

The new curriculum clearly explains the specific aims of each subject, clearly delineates topics to be covered each term, how much time should be spent on each topic and the required number and type of assessments.

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