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Plan to get tough on slack principals

Published Feb 27, 2012


Principals at about 20 consistently underperforming schools in the Western Cape could be demoted, given desk jobs or face disciplinary action.

The Western Cape Education Department said the process was expected to be completed at the end of this school term.

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Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said they were looking at the position of principals at about 20 schools that achieved pass rates of less than 60 percent in the matric exams, “on a case by case basis”.

“Principals will remain in place if the school is in this category for the first time. The department will look at options for principals of schools that are in this category for several years. These include placing these principals elsewhere, for example, in teaching posts or in administration.”

He said in some cases the department could consider disciplinary action.

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The number of underperforming schools has dropped from 85 in 2009 to 78 in 2010 and to 30 last year.

Jonavon Rustin, provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), warned that the department would have to act within the ambit of the Employment of Educators Act.

He said each school’s circumstances should be considered and the department should ensure principals were given training and support.

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Attwell said training for principals was offered at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute, while circuit teams also provided mentoring and advice to principals.

In her State of the Province address two weeks ago, premier Helen Zille reiterated her administration’s plan for education in the Western Cape.

Part of this included outcomes targets for every school.

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“Unbelievably, until we came into government in the Western Cape, there was no focus on measurable outcomes in educational management.

“Now every principal knows what his or her target is for the year, and they are able to work towards it from day one.”

She said the plan was to hold principals, circuit and district managers accountable for the outcomes in their schools.

“The Western Cape Provincial School Education Act, passed last year, makes provision for performance agreements for principals and deputy principals,” said Zille.

The department recently published its first vacancy list for 2012. Attwell said 519 posts were being advertised. These were principal, deputy principal, heads of department and teacher. Last year, 923 posts were advertised in the first vacancies of the year.

He said vacancies existed because of normal turnover resulting from retirement, resignation and promotion.

“Schools are advertising additional posts they acquired in last year’s post allocations. The department employs about 32 000 teachers,” he said.

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