Proposed school closures: WCED prepares learner placement plans

Penny Vinjevold

Statement by Penny Vinjevold, Head of Education in the Western Cape. 

The Western Cape Education Department is preparing detailed learner placement plans for learners affected by proposed school closures in the province. 

The aim is to improve opportunities for the learners concerned. 

We would like to place these learners in schools that are better equipped to provide a quality education. 

These plans are proposals at this stage, but are essential as we determine whether to close a public school. 

The department looks at how best we can use our resources to improve access to quality education on an ongoing basis. 

We have to respond to changing needs. We do so by building new schools, expanding and replacing existing schools and by closing schools, where it is in the best interests of learners to do so. 

The department has recommended to the Provincial Minister of Education that he consider 27 schools for possible closure. Twenty of these schools are in rural districts and seven are in the greater Cape Town area. 

The preparation of the proposed learner placement plans does not indicate that the Minister has already made up his mind in respect of any of the proposed closures. Each learner placement plan forms an essential part of our planning for each possible closure. 

The role of the department in this process is to identify and recommend to the Provincial Minister of Education schools that should be considered for possible closure. The role of the Provincial Minister of Education is then to consider the proposed closures critically in consultation with all interested parties. This process is currently underway.

Most of the schools concerned are very small rural schools that have dwindling numbers and do not have the resources to deliver the full curriculum. They typically offer multigrade teaching, with more than one grade in a class. 

Should any of these schools be closed, we plan to place the learners in schools that offer single-grade classes, with one teacher per grade, and better access to quality facilities and activities. 

Reasons for the proposed closure of schools in urban districts include dwindling numbers, the poor physical condition of these schools, and poor academic performance in certain cases. 

Should any of these schools be closed, the department would like to place these learners in schools that are well maintained, have better facilities, are well managed, achieve better results, and offer a wider range of  sporting and cultural activities. 

Teachers will typically follow learners to their new schools. 

Benefits for the teachers at the rural schools concerned would include the support of more colleagues, teaching single-grade classes and easier access to ongoing professional development. 

The learner placement plans include transport for learners in rural areas. In many cases, the learners will find it easier to get to school because buses will pick them up closer to their homes. 

The learner placement plans are designed to improve opportunities for about 4 000 learners, starting in 2013. 

Success will depend ultimately on how learners respond to these opportunities. Education districts will work with schools to monitor and support their progress. 

The department has proposed closing schools in five of the eight education districts in the province. 

Eden Karoo 

The department has proposed closing 11 schools in the Eden Karoo district. Learner numbers have dropped at all of these these schools, where enrolment ranges from 11 to 101. 

The schools rely on multigrade teaching. 

We would like to place the learners in schools with single-grade classes with a teacher for each grade. 

The new schools in mind are well managed and typically have better facilities. They can offer better extra mural programmes, such as team sports and cultural activities. 

The department will organise transport where necessary, for distances ranging from 8.9 km to 23 km. 

Proposed learner placement plans 

The following is a summary of the proposed learner placement plans for each school. 

The proposed plans are work in progress. The department will finalise the plans in consultation with all concerned when the Western Cape Education Minister makes his final decision on the proposed closures in September. 

Eden Karoo Education District 

Bracken Hill EK Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        Multi-grade teaching at the school 

Number of learners: 59 

Learner Placement Plan 

Fraaisig Primêr; Hornlee Primêr; Sunridge Primêr 

·           Better extra mural facilities, sport and cultural activities

·           All single grade classes

·           Learning support teacher available 

Denneprag Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        Dependence on multigrade teaching 

Number of learners: 45 

Learner Placement Plan 

Ruiterbos Primêr 

·           Single-grade classes

·           Building in good condition

·           Sports and recreational facilities available

·           Better opportunities for single grade classes

·           Learners will participate in systemic testing (previously not done due to low numbers)

·           Social development together with age cohort

·           Good management, leadership, discipline and quality education 

Krombeksrivier NGK Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        Little chance of future learner growth

3.        Multigrade teaching compromises the delivery of quality education 

Number of learners: 18 

Learner Placement Plan: 

De Waalville Primêr 

·           Single grade classes; individual attention

·           School offers variety of sports and cultural activities

·           Access to a well-equipped computer lab

·           Grade R facility

·           Well-kept school building

·           Learner support teacher available to assist learners

·           Better literacy and numeracy results

·           Good leadership and management 

Langkloof Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        Little chance of growth in numbers 

Number of learners: 11 

Learner Placement Plan: 

Molenrivier Primêr 

·           Participation in sports and cultural activities e.g. athletics and Eisteddfod

·           Access to well-equipped computer lab

·           Grade R facilities

·           School building in good condition

·           Better literacy and numeracy development opportunities

·           Good leadership and management

·           Learners to be transported on existing route 

Redlands Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        Multi-grade teaching compromises quality education delivery

3.        Poor literacy and numeracy results

 Number of learners: 74 

Learner Placement Plan: 

Karatara Primêr 

·           All single grade classes

·           Exposure to sports and cultural activities

·           Better infrastructure

·           Teachers well equipped to improve literacy and numeracy performance. 

Rietfontein NGK Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        The learners can be accommodated at neighbouring schools

3.        Multigrade teaching compromises quality education delivery 

Number of learners: 27 

Learner Placement Plan: 

Kruisrivier Wes Primêr 

·           Fewer multigrade classes

·           Learners will be transported

·           Learner attendance more consistent

·           More opportunities for learners to participate in sport codes

·           Feeding scheme remains

·           “No fee school” status remains 

Rodewal UCC Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        Poor retention of learners 

Number of learners: 94 

Learner Placement Plan: 

De Jager VGK Primêr 

·           Single grade classes

·           Transport for learners: improve attendance

·           More recreational space ; sport facilities

·           Participation in extra murals (sports teams)

·           Feeding scheme remains

·           “No fee school” status remains 

Rondevlei EK Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        The quality of the education suffers as a result of the multi-grade teaching

2.        Learners are transported from George to the school

3.        The learner numbers have been dwindling 

Number of learners: 57 

Learner Placement Plan: 

George schools; Smutsville Primêr; Sedgefield Primêr 

·           Will have access to sports facilities and participation with other schools

·           Closer to home; some learners within walking distance from Smutsville

·           Single grade classes (no more multi-grade)

·           Safety of learners (no more private transport)

·           Consistency in teacher attendance and teaching 

Warmbad-Spa Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        Multi-grade teaching is compromising quality education 

Number of learners: 62 

Learner Placement Plan: 

Uitvlugt Primêr 

·           Merging will improve teaching conditions

·           Less multi-grade classes

·           Learners will be transported

·           More consistent learner attendance

·           More learners per age group enhances sporting team opportunities

·           Feeding scheme remains

·           “No fee school” status remains 

Welbedacht UCC Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        Dwindling learner numbers

2.        Unsuitable accommodation

3.        Multi-grade teaching that compromises quality education 

Number of learners: 101 

Learner Placement Plan: 

Rooiberg Primêr 

·           Reduction of multigrade classes

·           School building more conducive to teaching and learning

·           More opportunities for learners to participate in sport codes

·           Learners will be transported

·           Feeding scheme remains

·           “No fee school” status remains 

Wittedrif Primary 

Motivation: 

1.        The establishment of one viable primary school for the community

2.        The donation of a new school will enhance the learning opportunities for all primary school learners in Wittedrif

3.        Multigrade teaching will be terminated

4.        There is no land available for future expansion at Wittedrif Primary School 

Number of learners: 218 

Learner Placement Plan: 

The WCED is planning to build a new school in conjunction with a partner. 

·           Share sports facilities with high school

·           Single grade classes

·           More recreational space

·           Opportunities for development of building and facilities

·           Strong leadership: sharing of experience

·           Community building 

Issued by: 

Paddy Attwell
Director of Communication
Western Cape Education Department

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