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Blue Ladder Schools: Teaching the Teachers

7 March 2019

Working with respected non-profit organisations that are skilled in this area, Sanlam’s Blue Ladder School Project aims to raise the standard of maths education in under-resourced schools. A key aspect of this project is teacher training and development.

Sanlam is committed to operating in a way that has a positive impact on society. Driven by a belief that education has the power to create greater equality in South Africa, the Sanlam Foundation aims to build teaching capacity in maths through the professional development of teachers at Blue Ladder Schools in the Western Cape.

When teachers have the skills and content knowledge required to implement the curriculum effectively, they are better positioned to offer a high-quality maths education to their learners. In turn, with improved maths skills, these young people can make choices, solve problems and analyse information with confidence. They are also more employable when they’re ready to enter the workplace.

How do we aim to achieve these goals?

Sanlam’s Blue Ladder School Project has partnered with the Primary Science Programme (PSP) to implement support programmes for teachers at our beneficiary schools. PSP is a non-profit organisation that focuses on the professional development of primary school teachers, in order to contribute to excellent primary schooling for all South African children.

A key focus area for this initiative is to raise the standard of maths education by helping to improve the way that this subject is taught – through needs-based, practical teacher training and development programmes.

This initiative was launched at Bellville South Primary, the first beneficiary school, in 2017. During 2018, four more schools were included – Groenheuwel Primary, Ludwe Ngamlana Primary, Mokone Primary and Imbasa Primary. The project runs for a period of three years at each school, after which an impact assessment is conducted by Sanlam to determine the way forward.

It all begins with a needs analysis at the relevant beneficiary school, to understand how that particular school operates and to identify the resource gaps. This also includes a review of teaching methodologies and textbooks, as well as an assessment of learners’ books to gain more insight into teaching approaches, activities conducted and curriculum coverage.

Using this intelligence, PSP devises a bespoke project implementation plan for each school that focuses on teacher training and development. Training workshops are held for all foundation phase teachers (Grades 1-3), which aim to develop content knowledge and teaching skills. These sessions also provide practical ideas on the types of activities that could be carried out in class, using affordable everyday objects that are familiar to the children.

After the workshops have been conducted, PSP facilitators continue to visit the teachers in the classroom environment to provide ongoing development opportunities. This is achieved through practical in-classroom mentorship, coaching and support.

How do we choose our beneficiary schools?

Together with local departments of education, we select schools that would benefit most from this project. To date, our initiative has touched the lives of more than 70 000 learners at 75 beneficiary schools across the country – and counting.

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