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South African Journal of Childhood Education

On-line version ISSN 2223-7682
Print version ISSN 2223-7674

SAJCE vol.4 n.3 Cape Town  2014

 

ARTICLES

 

Towards a governance and management model for teaching schools in South Africa

 

 

Coert Loock*; Sarah Gravett

University of Johannesburg

 

 


ABSTRACT

This article reports on a project that was aimed at establishing a model for the governance of teaching schools in South Africa within the framework of the current legal dispensation for the public and the independent schooling sector. The paper mainly addresses the powers and functions of public schools and school governing bodies as defined within the broader framework of The South African Schools Act 84 of 1996, The National Education Policy Act (Act 27 of 1996), and the Employment of Educators Act (Act 76 of 1998). The analysis of these statutes informed the proposal of four possible models for governance of teaching schools. The article recommends two models that fit the mandate of teaching schools as envisioned in the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa, 2011-2025: 1) a model that provides for teaching schools as a school type at national (not provincial) level, and 2) the independent school model.

Keywords: Teaching schools, teacher training schools, teacher education, school practicum, school governance, public school, private school, lab schools, charter schools


 

 

Background

This article emanates from the 'Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa: 2011-2025'1 (RSA DBE & DHET 2011). In this Framework, the development of teaching schools in South Africa is envisaged to strengthen "the teaching practice/school experience component of teacher education programmes through the development of Teaching Schools and Professional Practice Schools" (ibid:17). The Framework describes teaching schools as "teaching laboratories", where student teachers engage in learning from practice by, for example, observing best practice and participating in microteaching activities. Teaching schools can also serve as centres for research of teacher education. Furthermore, the Framework proposes that teachers at teaching schools will be developed as mentors for student teachers and will be able to teach subject methodology (pedagogy for specific learning areas) courses at the teacher education institution.

Prior to the promulgation of the Framework, the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), through a memorandum of agreement with the Gauteng Department of Education, founded a public primary school on its Soweto campus in 2010. The main objective for establishing the school was to develop an integrated practice site for the pre-service education of teachers, similar to what the Framework proposes with regards to teaching schools. Based on the work UJ had already done at its school, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) (supported by European Union funding) commissioned researchers from this university to conduct research on teaching schools for South African teacher education. This article reports on one component of this research, namely an appropriate management/governance model for teaching schools.

We briefly discuss a selection of the literature about the participation of schools in teacher education. We refer, specifically, to the teacher training school system in Finland, because this system is similar to the schools envisaged in the Framework. Thereafter we propose various models for the organisation, governance and funding of teaching schools in South Africa, some of which could be accommodated within the current legislative framework and others that will require legislative change.

The method we used to arrive at the different models was to conduct an in-depth survey and analysis of the laws and regulations as well as related materials that govern schools in South Africa, such as the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996; Juta's Education Law and Policy Handbook (Boshoff & Morkel 2003), compiled for the Education Labour Relations Council and published by a local publisher of law books; regulations promulgated by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education and Culture (KZN DEC 1999); the Constitution of South Africa (1996); the National Educational Policy Act, 27 of 1996; and the Employment of Educators Act (76 of 1998). We also drew extensively on our experience in founding the school in Soweto, as well as more recently, the gradual conversion of an existing public primary school in Siyabuswa to eventually serve as a teaching school.2 While we were compiling the commissioned research report, we had several conversations with education department officials (provincial education departments, Department of Basic Education (BDE) and DHET), to soundboard the emerging models.

 

Schools as sites of teacher education

The collaboration of schools and teacher education institutions in the pre-service education of teachers is customary worldwide. However, the nature of the collaboration differs from country to country and also within countries. Butink and Wouda (2001, cited in Maandag, Deinum, Hofman & Buitink 2007) describe five models of collaboration between schools and teacher education institutions with regard to the education of student teachers. These are: the work placement model (school as workplace); the co-ordinator model (school with a central supervisor); the partner model (trainer in the school as a trainer of professional teachers); the network model (trainer in the school as a leader of a training team in the school); and the training school model (training by the school). Depending on how teaching schools will be integrated into the curriculum design of teacher education programmes in South Africa, the teaching school collaboration model will fall within the category of a partner or network model, or a hybrid of the two.

Based on the description in Maandag et al (2007), the Finnish model of university training schools, also referred to as university practice schools or teacher training schools (Henning, Petker & Petersen (in press); Kansanen 2014; Sahlberg 2012), falls within the broad classification of a partner or network model. The schools are governed by universities (Kansanen 2014) and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Education (Niemi & Jakku-Sihvonen 2011). They follow the same curriculum and practice as normal municipal schools, but have higher professional requirements for teachers. Proven competency in teaching skills, supervision and mentoring, and assessment strategies are required (Kansanen 2014; Sahlberg 2012). Once appointed, mentor teachers are expected to complete courses in university pedagogics and to undergo continuous supervisor training (Jussila & Saari 2000). Teachers thus have to learn how to be teacher educators.

Teaching practice is integrated into all levels of the Finnish teacher education programme (Niemi & Jakku-Sihvonen 2011) and research-based thinking integrates theoretical and practice-based aspects into the programme (Kansanen 2014). This is achieved by aligning teaching practice periods with theoretical studies that correlate with the focus of that practice period. Teacher educators also visit the training schools and collaboratively supervise students with the school mentors (ibid). Thus, there is a close partnership between teacher educators at universities and training school teachers, based on mutual recognition of the expertise and experience of the other party (Raiker 2011). Training schools are generally situated close to universities. This further promotes a close working relationship between these schools and universities (ibid). In some universities, the initial practice periods take place at training schools where student teachers encounter best practice, and later they are also placed at other schools (municipal field schools) for practice teaching (Sahlberg 2012).

In addition to mentoring and guiding student teachers, training school teachers are also expected to engage in research in collaboration with the university so as to contribute to the development of teacher education (Henning, Petker & Petersen (in press); Sahlberg 2012).

The first South African teaching school was designed with some of the characteristics of Finnish schools in mind. Also, similar to Finnish teacher training schools, South African teaching schools will be located close to universities. And similar to the Finnish model, it is proposed that the school teachers will function as mentors to student teachers as well as teach subject pedagogy courses, and that the schools will be used as sites for research to improve practice.

 

The legal framework for school governance in South Africa

In this section, we discuss the South African Schools Act,3 which sets out the legal framework for both public and independent schools in South Africa. However, our focus will be on public schools, assuming for the sake of the argument that teaching schools will be public schools.

The South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996)

Two important principles laid down in the Schools Act, and which are pertinent for the establishing of teaching schools, are: different entities are assigned responsibilities for governance and professional management of schools; and the fundamental interest of parents in the education of their children is acknowledged by affording them majority representation in public school governing bodies.

The Schools Act makes provision for three different types of public schools, namely ordinary public schools, public schools for learners with special education needs, and public schools that provide education with a specialised focus on talent, including sport, performing arts or creative arts.

Governance of public schools

In terms of section 16(1) of the Schools Act, the governance of each public school vests in its school governing body. Although the concept of 'governance' may be interpreted as policy-making, the Schools Act makes it clear that the governing body is no mere policy-making body. The school governing body also deals with management functions such as administration and control of property, opening and maintaining a bank account, purchasing equipment and learning materials, and so forth. In essence, the governing body of a public school has original functions related to the overall oversight, governance and management of the school as a juristic person.

The status of public schools as a juristic person

'Juristic person' is a concept recognised by law as the subject of rights and duties in order to give to bodies/societal ties the same, or similar, legal powers or competencies as those ascribed to natural/adult persons. The legal powers include powers such as owning assets or incurring liabilities, concluding contracts, and suing or being sued.

Public schools are juristic persons created by legislation, in other words creatures of 'statute'. In the case of public schools, the school governing body is the organ acting on behalf of the juristic person. This means that this particular juristic person's capacity to act as a legal entity is limited to those rights, functions and obligations set out in the statute creating it (Schools Act). Sections 15 and 16(1) limit the powers of schools and their organs (governing bodies) to those functions authorised by the Schools Act itself.

It should be noted that a juristic person cannot function or exist within another juristic person such as a higher education institution (HEI). This aspect needs to be considered if public schools are linked to teacher education institutions4 for the purpose of teacher education.

A teaching school, as public school, should function within the current policy framework, as contemplated in section 12(3) of the Schools Act. This implies that the school governing body will be responsible for the governance of the school in accordance with the functions, obligations and rights as prescribed by the Act. Section 20 stipulates that the governing body develops its own constitution and code of conduct for learners, as well as the admission, language, religious observance and all other policies of the school. It should be noted that Section 20 schools are mainly 'no-fee' schools. In addition, a school governing body may apply for additional functions, such as the right to maintain and improve the school buildings and property; the right to determine the extra-curricular activities and curriculum policy; the right to purchase text books, educational materials and equipment; the right to pay for the services of the school; and the right to levy school fees and exercise any other functions consistent with the Schools Act and any applicable provincial law.

School funding and financial management

The 'National Norms and Standards for School Funding for Ordinary Public Schools, states that a school may carry out its own procurement and may deal directly with suppliers and contractors for the relevant budgeted items in accordance with standard procurement procedures, the financial directions issued in terms of section 37 of the Schools Act, and paragraph 116 of the Norms and Standards document. This does not mean that the school governing body may not take advice from other stakeholders such as the principal, educators or sponsoring body, which could be teacher education institutions in the case of teaching schools. Good governance principles and the provisions of sections 16(2) and 20(1)(a) of the Schools Act would indeed require of the school governing body to take such advice.

In the case of a public school for learners with special education needs or a public school for learners with "focused talent", procurement will take place in accordance with section 37 of the Schools Act and standard procurement procedures, as no norms and standards have been promulgated for these schools.

The function of determining the curriculum policy of the school and extramural activities is also allocated solely to the school governing body and cannot be executed as a joint function with another role player such as an HEI. The head of department of the provincial department of education can however impose a condition to the allocation of section 21 functions to the effect that the school governing body should consult certain stakeholders in the execution of this or any other section 21 function.

In the legal or policy context sketched thus far, a teaching school can function as an ordinary public school, a public school for learners with special education needs, or a school with a specialised focus. The governance and management of the school are determined by the normal legal framework provided for in the Schools Act.

Having probed the existing legal framework and the stipulations of the South African Schools Act related to public schools, the next sections will describe possible governance and management models for teaching schools in South Africa.

 

Four governance and management models for South African teaching schools

The term 'teaching school' is currently not used to describe a school type in the legislative framework. It is therefore necessary to investigate various options or 'models' that can be introduced to make provision for teaching schools. Some of these can be accommodated within the current framework of the South African Schools Act - if not fully, then with amendments - while one of them requires the promulgation of new legislation by an Act of parliament.

Model 1: A public school with a teaching school project

In this model a teaching school becomes a 'project school'. This means that a teaching school will be a public school with a 'teaching school project for teacher education' and named accordingly, for example: 'School X Teaching School Project'. The school governing body will have to negotiate and conclude a formal agreement with an HEI, to which the provincial department may either be a party or must be informed of the project.

All the provisions set out in the agreement must be consistent with the constitution of the school as well as the Schools Act. The Schools Act does not make provision for any deviation from the provisions of section 23, which pertains to the composition of the school governing body of an ordinary public school. There is therefore no leeway for representatives of the HEI to be elected or appointed to the school governing body as members with voting rights. Such representatives may be co-opted onto the school governing body, but without voting rights. This is different in the case of public schools for learners with special needs, where representative members of the "sponsoring body" (Section 24(e) of the South African Schools Act ) may be allowed as members with voting rights, subject to notice by the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) and by notice in the Provincial Gazette. The MEC will determine the number of representatives (section 24(2)).

The following aspects are important when considering this option:

Governance

If this option is followed, the school governing body has to establish a 'teaching school project committee' as a sub-committee of the school governing body. It is possible for the HEI to have representation on such a committee by virtue of Section 30(1) (b) of the Schools Act, which states that persons who are not elected members of the school governing body may be appointed to serve on a project committee of the school governing body on the grounds of their expertise. As a matter of law and good practice, decisions of the committee are subject to proper oversight by the school governing body.

Appointment of teachers

Section 6(3)(a) of the Employment of Educators Act (EEA), determines that any appointment, promotion or transfer to any post on the educator establishment of a public school must be made on the recommendation of the governing body of the public school. With regard to teaching schools, the teachers who participate in the 'project' linked to the HEI do so on behalf of the school and not on behalf of the HEI.

The HEI could pay a stipend for such teachers into the school fund to remunerate them for their work as mentors, and the school governing body must then pay the teachers. A teacher who actively participates in the teacher education programme at the teaching school on behalf of the HEI and receives remuneration for such participation needs to obtain permission from the provincial head of department if he/she is employed by the provincial department of education. The school governing body may also obtain permission from the head of department to remunerate teachers for additional work performed, in which case the provincial department will be responsible for payment. The application for such permission must be done in terms of section 38A of the Schools Act.

Professional management of the school

The principal is responsible for the professional management of the school. The school governing body may appoint a 'project manager' to oversee the teaching school project.

Infrastructure management

All the movable assets of the school belong to the school. If the HEI leases classrooms for the purpose of teacher education, the approval of the MEC, as contemplated in section 36(4)(a)(i), must be obtained. If the HEI provides items such as projectors and screens, acquired for teacher education purposes, the school governing body, through means of the committee referred to above, and the HEI must decide on the ownership of such movable assets. The question that arises is whether the above assets may be seen as donations, or whether ownership of these assets would revert to the HEI once the project comes to an end. If the items remain the property of the HEI, the institution must appoint a person to be in control of the property, preferably the project manager or an educator involved in the project.

Financial management

Section 37(1) of the Schools Act ("Norms and standards for school funding" (ss116)) requires that a school should only have one bank account. If a school should receive money from an HEI for the teaching school project, the amount received will have to be reflected as such. A separate ledger account may be kept for such payments received from the HEI, and for expenditure incurred for that particular purpose. The school governing body and the HEI must have a clear agreement regarding the funding of the project. The teaching school project must not place an additional burden, financial or other, on the parents of the school.

We are of the view that this model may be considered as an option, but it poses major challenges for the establishment of effective teaching schools. Some of these challenges relate to existing school governance structures, appropriate funding, appropriate infrastructure, appointment of suitable teachers, and the ability to create an enabling environment that is conducive to teacher education. In this model the HEI has little power to influence teaching and teaching school-related activities at the school, and a true partnership between the school and the HEI is not possible. This presents a major obstacle to a teaching school fulfilling its mandate as contemplated in the Framework.

Model 2: Declaring a separate category (type) of school (an amendment to the South African Schools Act)

The second option is that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) amends the Schools Act to make provision for teaching schools as a separate public school type, as per section 12(3) of the Schools Act. This would mean that the Minister of Basic Education would have to create a unique governance structure for teaching schools, with separate norms and standards for school funding.

Because the Framework proposes that teaching school teachers will serve as mentors for student teachers, there will be implications for the conditions of service of teachers. They will be expected to adequately fulfil their role as mentors to student teachers in the teaching schools, which will require that they work with student teachers both during and after school hours and that they collaborate closely with teacher education institutions. They will also be required to participate in development programmes conducted by the HEI in order to develop their capacity to function efficiently as mentors of student teachers. These requirements have implications for the post establishment ratio and remuneration of teachers at teaching schools.

In South Africa, all teachers are employed subject to the provisions of the Employment of Educators Act 76 of 1998. In accordance with the Act, the Minister of Basic Education shall determine the salaries and other conditions of service of educators. Different salaries and conditions of service may be determined in respect of different ranks and grades of teachers, teachers appointed at or outside educational institutions, or teachers appointed in different sectors of education. The implication is that if section 12(3) of the schools Act should be amended to provide for a different category of school, additional remuneration could be considered by the Minister of Basic Education. If section 12(3) is not amended, section 38A(2) of the Schools Act does make provision for the governing body to apply to the provincial department of education as employer for approval to pay a state employee any payment contemplated in terms of the Employment of Educators Act (Act 76 of 1998 or the Public Service Act, 1994 (Proclamation 103 of 1994)).

It should be noted that declaring a different category of school cannot serve as a waiver to any of the stipulations contemplated by the Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996) in terms of the 'original functions' of school governing bodies of public schools. These include: 1) the recommendation of educators and non-educators to the head of the department for appointment; and 2) the establishment of posts and the employment of educators and non-educators additional to the establishment determined by the MEC. The Employment of Educators Act 76 of 1998 (ss. 6A-7) deals with the appointment of educators and the filling of posts. Subject to sections (4) and (5), no transfer to any post on the teacher post establishment of a school shall be made unless the recommendation of the school governing body has been obtained and the democratic principles of equality and equity have been complied with (s7(1)).

Governance implications of model 2

a) Though this model requires the amendment of the Schools Act to make provision for a teaching school as a separate category of school, the school will continue to function as part of the provincial dispensation.

b) Because a different category of school is declared, the school is managed as a school with a special status.

c) Although the composition of the school governing body makes provision for representation by members of the sponsoring body (the HEI), the school governing body still exercises its 'original functions'.

d) Due to the nature of the school, the need for the governing body to establish a separate project committee (Model 1) falls away.

e) Because the school is a juristic person, any form of agreement or memorandum of agreement must be contracted between the HEI and the school governing body, as is the case in Model 1.

School funding and financial management implications

In the case of a public school for learners with special education needs or a public school with a specialised focus on talent, the procurement will take place in accordance with section 37 of the Schools Act and standard procurement procedures, as no norms and standards have been promulgated for these schools. As indicated in Model 1, section 37(1) of the Schools Act states that a governing body of a school must open and maintain one bank account. The same rules and regulations are applicable to Model 2.

We are of the view that this model is a viable option. An amendment to section 12(3) of the Schools Act creates an opportunity to declare a different category of school, with the possibility to apply for an appropriate post establishment, funding and staff remuneration structure. The disadvantage of this model is that the HEI will still have limited legal capacity to ensure that the school fulfils the mandate as stated in the Framework. As in the case of Model 1, an equal partnership between the school and the HEI is not possible.

Model 3: An independent (private) school

Hofmeyer and Lee (1999:1) define private schools to include

[...] all formal schools that are not public and may be founded, owned, managed and financed by actors other than the state, even in cases where the state provides most of the funding and considerable control over these schools.

Closer investigation reveals that there exists a myriad of state-aided schools owned by, for example, religious bodies, farmers, and mining and forestry concerns. Because they are state-aided, these schools are governed by Section 14 of the South African Schools Act.

Chapter 5 (s45) of the Schools Act stipulates that, "[s]ubject to the Act and any applicable provincial law, any person may, at his/her own cost, establish and maintain an independent school". The registration of such schools can currently only be executed by the head of department (at provincial level).

Funding and payment of subsidies to independent schools

According to Section 48 of the Act, the Minister of Basic Education may, by notice in the Government Gazette, determine norms and standards for the granting of subsidies to independent schools, after consultation with the Council of Education Ministers and the Financial and Fiscal Commission, and with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance, and may, from the funds appropriated by the provincial legislature for that purpose, grant a subsidy to an independent school.

Only non-profit independent schools receive subsidies from the state, which are never more than 60% of the equivalent cost of government schooling, even when the school is located in a disadvantaged and impoverished area. However, Section 50 (5 s50 ss(2)) allows the Minister to determine different requirements in respect of different independent schools, as stipulated under 5 (S 50 ss1a-b). It is therefore possible for the Minister to determine different requirements for teaching schools, linked to a specific set of norms and standards for such schools. Of specific interest is subsection 1(c) relating to eligibility criteria and the conditions and manner of payment of any subsidy to an independent school. The funding needs of teaching schools may not be sufficiently covered by these criteria and conditions. The Ministry of Basic Education, in terms of the norms and standards for school funding, bases its subsidy policy for the independent school sector on fiscal arguments and social grounds. Section 62 of Notice 2362, defines the fiscal argument in the Act as follows: "[...]the right of reputable, registered independent schools to exist is protected by the Constitution, and the payment of subsidies to them is not precluded."

The subsidy levels of independent schools are related to the current provincial fee levels on a five-point progressive scale. Eligible schools charging the lowest fees qualify for the highest level of subsidy, while schools charging the highest fees (in excess of 2.5 times the provincial average cost per learner in an ordinary public school) are considered to serve a highly affluent clientele, and no subsidy is paid from public funds. The Ministry of Basic Education, may, after due consultation, amend or revise these norms.

Before funding is approved, each independent school (as a juristic person) will have to meet the conditions of eligibility as stipulated by the provincial department. It must include indicators of sound management, proper admissions, attendance registers and an ability to manage public funds effectively.

Establishing teaching schools for the purpose of teacher education linked to universities and declaring them as independent, state-aided schools as determined by Section 14 of the South African Schools Act seems to be a viable option, with some constraints and challenges that can be overcome, and without major changes to existing legislation.

Implications of this model for the establishment of teaching schools

a) The independent model implies that teaching schools become 'contract schools', meaning that the HEI will not only register the teaching school as an independent school under its 'ownership', but also enter into an agreement with the provincial department of education.

b) We contend that, although 'independent', these schools should be required to follow the public school curriculum (with the leeway to experiment with curriculum). The majority of student teachers will be employed by public schools and should therefore be familiar with the public school curriculum.

c) Freed from bureaucratic requirements and processes, the model allows teaching schools to become teaching laboratories, characterised by exemplary schooling practices needed for good teacher education.

d) An appropriate school governance model/structure will have to be established, personifying the juristic personality of the school.

e) The appointment of suitable teachers at the school becomes the responsibility of the 'owner'. This enables the school governance structure to appoint relevantly qualified expert teachers and to include both the teaching and mentoring roles in the conditions of service of teaching schools teachers.

f) The national norms for subsidising independent schools in accordance with the criteria linked to eligibility, conditions and any other matter (5 s50 (1)(c-d) which must or may be prescribed in terms of the Act open up an avenue for the Department of Basic Education to allocate a higher subsidy to teaching schools to enable them to fulfil their teacher education mandate in addition to their schooling mandate.

g) The issue of transferring the buildings and infrastructure of existing public schools to the 'owners' (HEIs) can easily be resolved (the transfer of property and staff to the school boards of ex-Model C schools is an example of such a process).

h) The transfer of staff from a public school to a private or independent school, with its own conditions of service and remuneration package, will be the most difficult aspect of this model (that is, if an existing public school is transformed to a teaching school).

Teaching schools will be more expensive than ordinary independent schools. In addition to the normal education-related needs of schools, teaching schools will require appropriate infrastructure and a favourable learner-teacher ratio to enable teachers to fulfil their mentoring roles along with their teaching roles. Furthermore, a special salary dispensation will have to be implemented for this model. Teachers in these schools must not only be exemplary and expert teachers, but they take up the additional role of student teacher mentors; they thus have a dual role. We are also of the view that teaching schools should be low-fee schools, so as to be accessible to children from the surrounding community and/or children from disadvantaged communities. Teaching schools should not become elitist schools that can be afforded by affluent parents only.

The discussion of this model so far signals that teaching schools will have to be subsidised at a level substantially higher than low-fee independent schools. Alternatively, teaching schools could be subsidised similarly to low-fee independent schools, supplemented by a ring-fenced grant to HEIs similar to the funding provided to HEIs involved in health care training linked to teaching hospitals and health care clinics (clinical grant).

We are of the view that the independent school model could be implemented without much difficulty, after a process of consultation within the ranks of the Council of Education Ministers and the Financial and Fiscal Commission, in concurrence with the Minister of Finance and teacher education institutions.

Model 4: Teaching schools as institutions of the Department of Basic Education

Teacher education is a national and not a provincial responsibility. Teaching schools will be associated with HEIs offering teacher education. Consequently, a model to provide for teaching schools as a school type that functions at the national level of governance and administration under the jurisdiction of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) could be considered. This implies that teaching schools will then become a separated school dispensation regulated and centrally administered by this department.

Such an arrangement should be in accordance with the National Education Policy Act 27 of 1996 (NEPA), subject to the provisions of Act 100 of 97 (ss 11(a) and Act 48 of 1997 (s4)). The NEPA stipulates that subject to the provisions of subsections (1) to (3), the responsible Minister (DBE) shall determine national policy for the planning, provision, financing, co-ordination, management, governance, programmes, monitoring, evaluation and well-being of the education system in accordance with subsection (g): "the organisation, management, governance, funding, establishment and registration of education institutions" (ss (4), amended by s 11(b) of Act 100 of 1997).

The Council of Education Ministers (CEM)

It is noted that any contemplated policy changes in respect of education in schools shall be determined by the relevant Minister after consultation with the Council of Education Ministers, as well as all parties in the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), established in terms of Section 40 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act 68 of 1995). Such a matter shall then be introduced in Parliament, or in the case of regulations, published in the Government Gazette. The interpretation, scope and administration of such a policy should be clearly defined. The Minister must, in consultation with the Council of Education Ministers and other consultative bodies represented in the ELRC, establish a special education policy dispensation for teaching schools linked to teacher education institutions in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and with due consideration to, and compliance with, ss. 1-3 of the NEPA.

Funding and financial administration

The funding model for teaching schools has to be in line with the Public Finance Management Act (Act 1 of 1999) to ensure transparency, accountability and sound management of revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities. An HEI is listed as a constitutional institution in Schedule 1 of the Act and the legal framework delineated in the Act relating to public entities. Strategic prioritisation (such as teaching schools linked to teacher education institutions) and reprioritisation of medium-term baseline allocations over the strategic period of three years will have to be encapsulated into the budget process.

The same type of funding could be provided to teaching schools as the ring-fenced funding provided to the HEIs linked to teaching hospitals or health care training clinics for training of health care practitioners (clinical grants). This would imply that the DBE provides basic funding for the schools, similar to the funding applicable to public schools, but in addition, a suitable ring-fenced amount is made available to the HEI to fund the teaching school component - for example, for additional remuneration of teachers and the cost of teacher development. This type of funding will be managed in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act mentioned above. The budget will have to be presented to the DBE (in collaboration with the DHET) in either line-item format or programme-output presentation. The latter will be more useful to the teacher education institutions and the DBE, as it will indicate the extent to which the allocation of resources actually reflects teacher education priorities in relation to planning and execution.

We are of the view that this is a viable model for teaching schools. However, the promulgation of a new legal dispensation for the establishment of teaching schools, together with the related development of a new regulatory framework and provisioning at a national basis, overseen by the DBE, may be a long and tedious process.

 

Conclusion: the viability of the proposed models

The conclusion we draw from the analysis and the conceptualisation of the four models is that, pragmatically speaking, one model is currently more feasible than the others. Although Models 1 and 2 can accommodate the establishment of teaching schools, we argue that neither of these two models is appropriate for the optimum organisation, governance and funding of teaching schools in South Africa, as contemplated in the Framework.

Gravett, Petersen and Petker (2014) report on some of the major stumbling blocks related to an ordinary public school functioning as a teaching school. The challenge of the school not having special status is raised as follows by a UJ staff member who was instrumental in drawing up the memorandum of agreement with the provincial department of education:

[I]t has been the source of many tensions since the school's establishment and has required extensive negotiation and co-operation from university management, teaching school staff and the local education department structures to enable the school to remain focused on its educative obligations while developing its capacity to fulfil its role as a teaching school (S114).

Another challenge they mention is the lack of sufficient leeway to appoint teachers who fit the profile needed for their teaching school responsibilities and the inability of the university to intervene if teachers do not fulfil their roles as mentors adequately (Gravett et al 2014). The authors also highlight the fact that teaching school staff, as employees of the provincial department of education, feel obliged to first and foremost adhere to the rules, regulations and reporting requirements of the department, regardless of what the obligations of the school as a teacher education site may require. Despite a memorandum of agreement providing for latitude regarding experimentation with the curriculum and some operational matters, teaching school staff often feel "caught between the University of Johannesburg on the one hand and the Gauteng Department of Education on the other" (ibid:S114). A teacher observed:

We serve two masters: University of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Department of Education and we sometimes do not know who to respond to, but because the Gauteng Department of Education is our employer we always have to listen to them (Gravett et al 2014:S114).

Typical public school timetabling, which does not allow for time slots during the school day for teachers to interact with student teachers, also proved to be an obstacle. Teaching school staff express frustration at the "constraints in timetabling which prevents us from meeting with the students to talk about their observations and teaching" (Gravett et al 2014:S114). The authors argue that mentoring requires "time 'in the moment' after a lesson or teaching and learning episode to engage with students about what they have observed or address questions students may have" ibid).

Gravett et al (2014) are positive that teaching schools do have the potential to add considerable value to teacher education. However, integrating a teaching school into a teacher education programme is complex and multidimensional, and they maintain that affording special status to teaching schools would be a precondition for the success of these schools. The authors conclude that the special status of teaching schools should be such as to enable close collaboration between the teacher education institution and the school with regard to school governance and teaching and mentoring practices in the school.

Though the school in Soweto is a public school, it was a new school, founded as a teaching school on the university campus. It began with two Grade R classes only, which allowed for gradual development of the school. Thus, despite the challenges highlighted by Gravett et al (2014), the UJ Faculty of Education's sphere of influence in developing the school has been substantial. On the other hand, our experience in converting an existing school in Siyabuswa into a teaching school has been a completely different experience. There have been many complications in working with an established public school within the current legal and policy framework. It is also very difficult to work in an environment that is strongly unionised. Despite a memorandum of agreement with and goodwill from the provincial department of education and the school management team, our sphere of influence as teacher education institution has been limited, which has hampered progress. We have no bona fide power to influence the management and teaching practices in the school. We can support and advise, but we cannot direct. Though teachers in the school may not be modelling best practice to student teachers, we cannot oblige them to participate in development programmes and to change their practice. Nor can we oblige them to take up the additional responsibilities required of teaching school teachers or intervene if they do not execute tasks associated with the teaching school teacher role.

Our experience has also taught us that a teaching school system will not be viable in the long run without a sound financial model supporting it. For example, the UJ Faculty of Education had to raise substantial donor funding to support the stipends that are paid to the teaching school teachers and to fund the development of the teachers in the schools in Soweto and Siyabuswa. This is not sustainable. We maintain that universities will not support the integration of these schools into teacher education without the assurance that the schools will be adequately funded.

We regard both the independent school model and the model providing for teaching schools as a school type at the national level of educational governance as viable. However, the latter model may be too technical in nature due to the major legislative changes required, including the promulgation of an act of parliament to provide for a special education dispensation not provided for by the South African Schools Act.

We would argue that the independent (private) school model is appropriate for establishing teaching schools within the current legislative framework and that it is, furthermore, viable within a short time frame. This model has the advantage of minimal legislative adjustments and fits the current legislative framework best. The current legislative framework for independent schools allows enough flexibility for the establishment and governance of teaching schools. The challenges are mainly technical and are related to a feasible and appropriate funding model to ensure long-term viability of teaching schools.

This article presented different options that could be considered for a governance, management and financial model for teaching schools in South Africa. We argued that an appropriate model would enable close collaboration between the HEI and the school as equal partners with regard to school governance and teaching and mentoring practices in the school. The model should also allow for the appointment of suitably qualified teachers and should be financially viable. We recommend two models as meeting these requirements best: a model that provides for teaching schools as a school type at national level and the independent school model. The latter model has the advantage of minimal legislative adjustments and it could be implemented within a short time frame.

 

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* Email: coertl@uj.ac.za
1. Hereafter we will refer to it as the 'Framework'.
2. The University of Johannesburg Faculty of Education offers a foundation phase teacher education programme in Siyabuswa, which will be taken over by the University of Mpumalanga in 2017.
3. Hereinafter referred to as the 'Schools Act'.
4. In South Africa, teacher education takes place at universities and some universities of technology. The term 'teacher education institution' is used to refer to these higher education institutions.

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