Local teachers honoured by WCED

Extract of Minister Debbie Schafer’s speech delivered on Friday 4th November 2016 at the 17th Annual Western Cape Top Teachers Awards.

‘I cannot believe that another year has flown by and we are once again meeting at this wonderful ceremony to acknowledge our excellent teachers at this, the 17th Annual Provincial Teaching Awards Ceremony.

This year’s theme, ‘Our teachers, our Olympians’ is a fitting tribute to our excellent teachers who are indeed our country’s champions.  And I think it is equally fitting that we celebrate this every year, and not every four years.

The difference is that our Olympians don’t get four years to train for the main race!  You are running the race every day, often against extreme odds.

And on that note I would like to draw attention to a quote by an international education speaker Barbara Colorose – “If kids come to us from strong, healthy, functioning homes it makes our job easier.  If they do not come from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.”

I think our good teachers should be regarded as our marathon champions, because in this business you sure need staying power.  Perhaps mixed with the steeplechase, because while you are running you have to overcome numerous obstacles along the way.

But I know that those who are being honoured here tonight do all of this because they know that every child in our beautiful country deserves a champion.

–          A champion who will never give up on them.

–          A champion who sees their potential, who believes in them and encourages them never to give up.

–          A champion who encourages them to be the very best that they can be.

You are those champions.

Tonight we celebrate excellence in teaching and we honour some of the outstanding educators who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that they are the champions we need in our schools. They are those who inspire and motivate our children every day.

There is a saying that says that a person who is appreciated will always do more than is expected. Tonight we are here to appreciate you, because you have done more than expected.

There are many champions and great leaders amongst us tonight, not only because you have done great things but because you have ensured that the learners in your care have gone on to do great things.

The role of a teacher in a child’s life cannot be overemphasised. Each child is a blank canvas and the teachers who have learners in their care for hours every day make a mark on that canvas that can never be erased.

Now this is a responsibility that most would shy away from, but not those who are here tonight.

When I read through the nominee profiles for the awards, it was encouraging that there are so many teachers in our province who go above and beyond the call of duty every day.  This is also consistent with what I have seen when I have conducted visits to various parts of the province.  We have many truly dedicated, excellent teachers, so those who are here tonight must be truly outstanding.

Teachers who work evenings and weekends, not only to better the lives of the learners in their care but for the learners’ families and the broader school community too.

Teachers who believe in a holistic approach to education, who work with parents and outside stakeholders to ensure that the learners in their care have access to the best resources possible. This whole of society approach is what is required to take us forward and make a real difference in our province and society.

There are teachers who have used their own initiative and have taken it upon themselves to develop programmes and  projects, some who support and mentor other teachers and others that support and develop learning in various subjects.  In an ever changing and diverse education system, it is important that you are able to think for yourselves and find different ways of working and thinking more creatively. It is also important, of course, to ensure that our learners are taught these skills.

In each candidate’s motivation, there were many examples of outstanding leadership and contributions from educators across the province.

It excites me to see how many of you have run new and innovative programmes in your schools.

One of the most remarkable qualities of a good leader is that they develop new leaders.  Many of you have done this by ensuring your staff and colleagues attend courses and further training on management and leadership development.

And so it is important to acknowledge quality, excellence and professionalism in the education sector. That is why we attach such great importance to these awards.

This year, we have also introduced a new award for the Provincial category only – the “After School Leadership Excellence Award”.

Tonight, this prestigious award will be presented to an individual who demonstrates passion and innovation in motivating their school team to provide creative, dynamic and interesting After School Programming to their learners.

In the Western Cape, one of our priorities is to expand access to quality after-school programmes across the province.

The After School Game Changer is a critical intervention – not only to keep our children safe and occupied in constructive activities after school, but also to engage with them in extra-mural mathematics and language programmes, tutoring, sporting activities and cultural and behavioural programmes.

Recent research from CHEC suggests that involvement in extramural activities is one of the biggest influences on a learner’s employment prospects when they leave school because of the different kinds of “soft skills” they learn by participating in these activities.

The Western Cape Government has set itself the goal of more than doubling the participation of learners from disadvantaged schools in after school activities, and ensuring regular attendance. We aim to achieve this by significantly improving the attractiveness and quality of such programmes for learners by 2019.

This Game Changer will however, not be possible without strong leaders that motivate and encourage not only their school staff, but also other government departments, NGOs and religious organisations to contribute to their school’s after-school activities.

Strong committed leadership lies at the heart of this Game Changer’s success.  I look forward to the announcement of tonight’s winner and I sincerely hope that this will encourage more principals to replicate this excellence.

As I have said, we are very fortunate in the Western Cape to have many educators who continue to go selflessly beyond the call of duty to ensure that their learners receive the best quality education.  We will unfortunately not be able to recognise all of them tonight, but I want them to know that their efforts are sincerely appreciated.

Each of the 41 educators who are here tonight has demonstrated commitment and dedication to the teaching profession.  I congratulate each of you on being finalists in this competition.

It would not be fair also to acknowledge the role of all our officials in the Department, who also work tirelessly day and night to try to make the lives of teachers easier.  We have a great team, and I want to pay tribute to all of you, and especially our acting HOD Brian Schreuder, who has shown nothing but commitment to the education department over many years, and who has so willingly and so professionally stepped into the role of Acting HOD.

Tonight’s celebration is of course not the end of this process. I should sincerely like to wish all our winners the best of luck in the National round of the teaching awards.  It would be fantastic to see some Western Cape winners!  Regardless, you are all winners in our eyes already.

I would like to thank you all once again, for your contribution towards excellence in our schools. Education is fundamental in any society, and whether our learners receive a good education or a bad education can determine the rest of their lives.  And it is very largely in your hands as to whether that happens or not.

Your resilience, unreserved passion and undeniable commitment to education will leave an indelible mark on the lives of our learners and together we can make a huge impact on our province and our country.

So, to our teachers, our steeplechase marathon champions, Thank you and Good Luck.’

Category 3: Excellence in Grade R Teaching

1-sharone%c2%a6u-oppermanMs Sharoné Opperman

Dellville Park Primary School,

After a career in hairdressing, Ms Opperman decided to further her studies in Foundation Phase teaching. Initially she had only embarked on her studies to better stimulate the academic growth of her own three children. However, she soon realised that teaching was her calling. After qualifying as a Grade R teacher in 2012, Ms Opperman started teaching at Delville Park Primary School. She is a passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic teacher, with many unique and unconventional teaching methods which bring out the absolute best in her Grade R learners.

Ms Opperman believes that learners should have fun while learning, and therefore her lessons are highly creative and interesting. She effectively uses puppets and roleplay to enhance learners’ listening and speaking skills.

She uses every opportunity not only to teach, but also to instil values in her learners. From the morning bell, from language studies to Mathematics, she always highlights the more important values that children should learn. This is very important, especially considering the socio-economic circumstances that most of her learners come from. It is clear from her approach to teaching that Ms Opperman reaches each individual child at his/her own level and takes him/her to the next development milestone with ease. Her teaching methods further show that she has an individual rather than a collective teaching approach. She does this effortlessly, as she believes that each learner has the potential to

Ms Opperman’s teaching transcends the classroom and after school she has one-on-one sessions with learners who experience difficulties in certain aspects of the curriculum.

One unique and brilliant incentive among many that Ms Opperman uses to instil discipline and improve academic performance stands out – instead of rewarding points for good work and/or behaviour, she starts the week with learners already having points. Each learner starts the week with ten tickets. Any misdemeanour will result in points being taken away. The learners are encouraged when they start the new week with rewards and then work hard to keep them. Tickets left by the end of the week are converted into cash that learners can spend at the tuck shop.

She willingly attends all planning and curriculum workshops. Furthermore, she effectively delivers the CAPS curriculum and shows an above-average understanding of its deliverables. She has a good understanding with parents and performs house visits regularly.

She is a born educator who teaches with dedication and unreserved passion.

Excellence in ICT Enhanced Teaching

1-cecelia-campbellMs Cecelia Campbell

Erika Primary School,
Extension 13, Mossel Bay

This vibrant and very dynamic primary school teacher embraced the use of technology in her classroom and has become a role model for technology-enhanced teaching and learning in the classroom, not only in her school, but also to other schools in her district and beyond.

Although limited in terms of the availability of resources, she has succeeded in innovatively applying her whiteboard, data projector and laptop to teach learners the alphabet song, the diagram song and Maths games. Through a process of interactive teaching she succeeds in giving groups of learners the opportunity of engaging with technology while learning, and making use of visual learning to enhance the learning process.

Wireless connectivity at the school has allowed her to access eBooks from Oxford Owl. This gives her learners the opportunity to hear stories (listening activities) and read them. In this way she attempts to overcome the language barrier in her class and consciously address the different learning styles of learners. It is clear that she does in-depth research on the type of activities she uses to teach. Her learners are focused, she uses different types of activities for different groups of learners and does not limit learners who want to do extra activities. She also downloads activities from YouTube as a source of learning. Through the use of technology, she was able to put the Department of Basic Education (DBE) workbooks on the screen and infuse them in her lessons as part the learning process.

Once a week she and her class access the computer lab of the school. She uses this opportunity for reading and Mathematics drills and practice. She applies technology to do diagnostic analyses of her learners’ performance and uses ClassDoJo programmes both for classroom management and as a reward system.

Ms Campbell is an e-learning master trainer for the WCED and has trained teachers in Moodle, Web Quest and Hot Potato. She is also an IT facilitator and has recently been accredited as a SchoolNet trainer. She was a presenter at the first Metro Central eLearning Conference in 2015, demonstrating the effective integration of interactive devices into the curriculum. She works closely with the elearning advisers in her district and provides computer application support to schools in her area, St Blaize Primary School being a case in point.

She uses a broadcast group for the parents of learners in her class regarding a variety of issues, including learner behaviour. The group helps her because parents respond immediately. She also has a WhatsApp group to communicate with parents.

She clearly has done much to encourage her colleagues at school to buy into a technology-enhanced approach to teaching and learning. More and more teachers are using technology in class as part of the teaching and learning process and this is primarily due to her unrelenting efforts to ensure that technology-enhanced teaching and learning are fully integrated into the work of the school. She helps her colleagues with the compilation of Mathematics lessons, timetabling, registers and term schedules. She even helps some with SARS eFiling.

She is part of the Erika We Care group, which helps children in need in her community, and is a member of the Beat It Relay team, which raises funds to support a home for cancer patients in George.

Ms Campbell is aware of the latest developments in IT applications for educational use, and she is a positive, energetic and hardworking teacher who is continuously creating an environment of excellence in education. She is technologically informed and a skilful problem solver. She is an inspiration to her learners, the teachers and the school community and has transformed her classroom and school from a traditional talk-and-chalk institution into a school where technology is being integrated as part of the teaching and learning process.


The awards acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of teachers who excel, often under difficult circumstances. They provide a crucial service to our children, many of whom live in poor communities.

The awards are presented annually at both provincial and national level. The rigorous adjudication process culminates in a prestigious Awards Ceremony, where the provincial winners are announced by the provincial Minister of Education.

The 2016 provincial awards Ceremony will be held at the West Campus Building, Mutual Park, in Pinelands on the 04 November 2016.

The awards recognize excellence in the following categories:

 Excellence in Primary School Teaching
 Excellence in Secondary School Teaching
 Excellence in Grade R Teaching
 Excellence in Special Needs and Inclusive Teaching
 Excellence in teaching Mathematics (FET)
 Excellence in teaching Physical Science (FET)
 Excellence in Technology – Enhanced Teaching and Learning Award
 Excellence in Primary School Leadership
 Excellence in Secondary School Leadership
 Lifetime Achievement Award

The process started with the WCED calling on the school communities to nominate excellent teachers that excel in their area of expertise as per the categories above.

The nominations were received by the Districts that are clustered together in 6 clusters, i.e.

 Metrople North & Metrople East Education Districts;
 Metropole South & Metropole Central Education Districts;
 Eden & central Karoo Education District
 Cape Winelands Education District;
 Overberg Education District;
 West Coast Education District.

The District clusters adjudicate on the nominations received and identify the local winners. Die panel is made up of retired school principals and teachers district officials. Teacher Unions are also represented on the adjudication panels.

The district clusters announced the winners at centralized cluster functions. The names of the cluster winners are forwarded to a provincial panel that identifies the provincial winners. The provincial is also made up of retired school principals and teachers district officials. Teacher Unions are also represented on the adjudication panels.

The WCED awarded certificates of excellence to cluster winners, along with an ICT voucher to be redeemed at a reputable ICT provider. In addition to the prizes awarded, the schools of the finalists will also receive R 5 000 that must be used towards professional development of the whole teaching staff.

The provincial winners will also receive certificates of excellence, along with ICT vouchers to be redeemed at a reputable ICT provider, the value of the vouchers at provincial level:

Winners – R 12 000
Runners-up – R 7 000

In addition winning schools will each receive R 7 500 that must be used for professional development for the whole teaching staff.

Nominations – 161 nominations received from schools

Cluster Finalists – 51
Provincial Finalists (winners) – 10
Provincial Runners-up – 41 (of which two are groups of three and one group of four)

National Adjudication will take place during the 15 – 22 Jan 2017 in Pretoria.

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