The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) released a statement announcing its decisive #BackOnTrack intervention for the third and fourth terms to address severe learning losses in the Foundation Phase (Grades one to three) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will include an increased time allocation of an additional hour of Mathematics and two hours of group-guided Reading per week to ensure that our youngest students are not disadvantaged in later grades – amounting to an increase of at least 60 learning hours per student in the subjects over the remainder of the year.
These increases will not increase the length of the school day by adjusting the amount of time allocated to Life Skills.
“We recognise the importance of Life Skills teaching in the development of our students. It is therefore important that the remaining time for the subject be used effectively within the new timetables,” says Minister of Western Cape Education, David Maynier.
Making up for lost time:
According to the statement, the pandemic derailed our steady progress, so we must take immediate action to get #BackOnTrack in these subjects. The greatest learning loss can be seen in the Foundation Phase.
Maynier states “we have always maintained that the loss of contact (face-to-face) teaching time would affect our youngest students the most as they do not have the same self-discipline, maturity or structure that our older students would have to cope with rotating timetables and learning at home.”
“Comparing the 2021 and 2019 systematic test results, the Grade three pass rate in Mathematics dropped by 13.8 percentage points, and in Language by 8.0 percentage points. These learning losses will have serious knock effects as these students progress through their school careers.”
“Education experts recommend the allocation of additional time for the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Reading, more teacher support and improved teaching practices, and encouraging parental support and involvement to catch up the time and learning lost,” as written in the statement.
“A minute will be sent to schools outlining what is required and providing suggested timetables when implementing the intervention. All Foundation Phase teachers will participate in a webinar on Monday 25 July 2022, to take them through the intervention before it is implemented.
The intervention will be monitored over the remaining weeks of the school year, and a review report will be produced to inform the steps we will take in 2023. Schools that have already made their adjustments to address learning losses in this phase will have the opportunity to request exemption from the change if they can demonstrate that they are effectively addressing the losses.”