The WCED recently released to schools a planning calendar for the 2012 school year in order to prepare teachers, principals and parents well in advance about education activities planned for 2012.
The calendar includes a schedule of dates for training programmes, meetings, tests and examinations, as well as other important administrative deadlines.
Next year our main focus areas will be on meeting our improvement targets, the protection of teaching and learning time and educator development and training.
In 2011, schools were encouraged to ensure that every minute of every school day was used optimally for teaching and learning. We believe that there has been a positive shift in attitude by our educators and principals in prescribing to this principle and we will continue to emphasize the ‘protection of teaching and learning time’ next year.
For example, in 2012 we expect all our learners to be in school the full 197 days of the school year, which begins on the 11th of January. Our educators are also expected to be in school for the full year for educators which is 201 days.
In 2012, the instructional time for Grades 1 and 2 has also been extended in terms of the CAPS requirements from a minimum of 21 hours per week to 23 hours per week.
Schools wanting to take educational excursions can do so only after receiving written permission from the District Director. Schools have to apply for permission six weeks in advance and motivate how the excursion will enhance the curriculum.
We are also encouraging schools to extend contact time with learners on a voluntary basis, to ensure high levels of academic achievement. This year, we saw an overwhelming number of schools extend teaching and learning time after school hours, on weekends and during the school holidays. I would like to thank each of these educators for giving up their own spare time to do so. Their commitment to improving education outcomes in this province does not go unnoticed.
In 2012, we would like to see more educators taking their lead.
Another area where educators can take the lead is in their own personal development and training.
Included in the planning calendar are a number of dates for training programmes and workshops that will be compulsory for educators. For example, dates for literacy and numeracy training for the Foundation and Intermediate Phases, as well as CAPS training and meetings. However, there are a number of other training programmes and meetings on offer that are optional courses to meet specific needs, such as ICT proficiency, special needs education, training for aspiring school principals, literacy and numeracy workshops and subject-specific training for various grades.
I am extremely proud of what we will have on offer next year at our Cape Teaching and Learning Institute and encourage all our educators to diarise the dates of these workshops and sessions now.
Significant administrative dates have also been included in the planning calender so that educators and principals can plan for the year ahead.
The calendar provides the final dates for a variety of important tests and examinations next year, such as the WCED Grade 3,6 and 9 systemic tests, which will take place between the 10th and the 23rd of October, the NSC examinations (22 October- 30 November 2012) and the previous Senior Certificate examinations (2 May-21 June).
Other important administrative dates include the 2012 School Snap Survey, applications for growth and curriculum posts, dates for submissions for various learning and teaching support materials and equipment and the publication of vacancy lists.
Enrolment for the 2013 school year will take place in two phases between the 1st of March to 22 June, and 16 July to 7 September. We have brought this process forward to ensure that we are able to accommodate all learners well before the end of the school year, so that we can even better improve our planning for the 2014 school year.
Another important date to remember is the School Governing Body elections which will take place during the month of March 2012.
I am very proud that the department has completed the plans for 2012 so far in advance. Since this Government came into power our forward planning for education has improved year on year.
This has allowed schools enough time to pro-actively plan ahead and prepare for the upcoming year.
I would like to thank all our officials for all their hard work in making this possible. It is now up to our educators and principals to ensure that they diarise these dates so that we can have a smooth 2012 school year.