Creative use of spaces in schools can boost pupils’ performance
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Transformative leadership and the creative use of spaces in schools can help improve pupils’ performance and keep them at school until they complete matric.
This is according to a new book by Professor Aslam Fataar, from the Department of Education Policy Studies at Stellenbosch University and Dr Johann Burger, district manager for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
The book, Skoolleierskap en die skep van produktiewe leerruimtes in skole (School leadership and the creation of productive learning spaces in schools) shows how two principals of diverse schools – one in an urban working-class area and the other in a rural middle-class area – apply unique leadership and the use of specific spaces in schools to create excellent learning environments that inspire and motivate their learners and teachers to excel in what they do.
According to the authors, the principals created physical, emotional and social spaces by incorporating, among others, artworks, light, colour, sound, maps and diagrams in the learning environment.
“One school transformed a certain social space that consists of several seats under shady trees into emotional zones. There are between six and 10 seats where the learners, away from the hustle and bustle of the playground, can sit in a fairly quiet space and chat and socialise with each other.
“One of the social projects that was launched was the establishment of a ‘restaurant’ for learners that could help prepare them emotionally and socially for the future.”
According to the authors, the book shows how limited resources and spaces in schools can be utilised to create learning environments that foster relationships between teachers and learners based on respect, compassion and educational dignity.
"This book focuses on the problem of poor performance in the majority of South Africa's schools. It addresses the worrying question of how to improve education in poorly performing schools.
“We suggest school leadership is one of the key dimensions to improve schools and that such leadership is crucial to creating learning environments to improve school performance.”
The authors believe that newly created and productive learning spaces will have a positive influence on learners and say that this will inspire and excite them about going to school.
“Their performance will improve and they will be retained in the school system for longer periods. Learners’ emotional and social needs will receive more attention, and their discipline and behaviour will improve.
“They will also be more motivated to make productive contributions to their own lives, their communities and our country in the future.”