School Turnaround Programme (STP)
The project principle (there are five) that is most central is that we need to restructure the current education model that is based on a ‘middle-class community’ construction that leads to a ‘dysfunctionality-by-design’ construction for poor families and learners.
1) What is working?
- The focus of the school turnaround strategy (STS) was constructed from a ‘poor community’ perspective, and therefore most principals from such backgrounds, and who are managing schools within these areas can related to the conceptual basis of the strategy;
- The STS is designed to be school-driven-specific, meaning wherever the school is on the performance continuum, and to gives the school the pathways of how to get to the next level of performance, including becoming a school of excellence;
- The STS is practical and related to the day-to-day engagements and responsibilities of school leadership and management team members;
- The STS is based on recognised academic and theoretical theories, models and approaches, but is contextualised to the local conditions of South Africa and similar developing countries;
- The STS is holistic, extensive and an all-embracing 50 Operational by 50 Quality systems design, intended to interconnect the various working systems in schools.
2) When is it not working?
- When implemented in an organisational context where people don’t see the need to change, the implementation has little chance to succeed;
- Where adults in education focus on ‘compliance’, meaning adhering to the minimum requirements of bureaucracies, real change can’t take place;
- Where schools attempt to change while following the old culture, the different cultures tend to clash at some point.
3) What have we learnt?
- The current transformation in education has only been limited to curriculum, and has left most of the structural design of the old education system in tact;
- Adhering to the limited requirements (compliance) of policies is a necessary requirements, but not sufficient to get school to high functioning or excellence;
- School turnaround projects will need at least a 3-5 years period in order to cement and stabilise schools that have been dysfunctional for a long time;
- The bureaucracy has to create space for turnaround agents to work outside the current policies which allowed these schools to become dysfunctional;
4) What ideas can be spread?
- The ‘theory of change’ of STS is applicable to all developing countries where the majority of learners come from poor communities;
- The STS is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, but rather a design that encompasses all the necessary systems that will act as building blocks towards excellence;
- The STS is not a linear design process, but has habits, patterns and routines that will ensure that all the 50 operational and 50 quality systems will come into play within school turnaround, on the road to school excellence;
- There is no justification for learner achievement and success to be linked to the socio-economic status of learners or their communities.
5) What are the milestones and deliverables of STS?
|Phase 1: Ownership among all stakeholders
OD System 1: Establishing a leadership systems
Phase 2: School readiness enhancement
OD System 2: Strategic planning systems
Phase 3: Monitoring and evaluation of curriculum management process
OD System 3: Human resource systems – 8 x 2 days workshops ;
|OD Systems 4: Learning and teaching management systems
OD Systems 5: Monitoring and evaluation management systems
Phase 4: Climate, culture and relationships
Phase 5: Sustainability strategy
Total project strategy Timeframe on average:
Phase 1: STAS  + OD  = 24 days;
Phase 2: STAS  + OD  = 60 days;
Phase 3: STAS  + OD [16 + 20] = 76 days;
Phase 4: STAS  = 20 days;
Phase 5: STAS  = 16 days
Total: 196 days = 84 weeks = 42 months = 3-5 years
6) What is the cost involved (budget)?
Importantly, this school turnaround programme is designed to be a 3-5 year initiative, and therefore, a budget commitment of at least three years would be needed in order to make the project impactful, as well as realising the mentioned indicators and deliverables.
Cost per school: R15,000 – R20,000 per month, depending on the amount of school per project sponsor / funder.