In the second term of 2016, Mrs Shumikazi Sibhozo took up her appointment as principal of Vuba Primary School, which is situated in KwaNobuhle, near Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape. This was after teaching for twenty years, seven of which were as principal of her previous school. Shumikasi’s appointment coincided with Edupeg’s initial involvement in the school.
On arrival, she found the school to be largely dysfunctional. There was little teaching going on mainly because of the shortage of appointed teachers. A small number of unpaid volunteers tried to stabilise the situation by filling the gaps and providing some sort of tuition.
Faced with this challenging situation, Shumikazi tentatively welcomed the support that Edupeg offered to the school through its weekly mentoring visits to her teachers. Once she became more familiar with what the programme entailed, she became more at ease with the mentors’ presence. Over a period of time, she began to value the visits as opportunities to discuss concerns about the school. These issues ranged from considering practical solutions and routines to addressing everyday concerns such as general discipline, managing the feeding scheme and implementing basic behavioural and academic techniques identified in Teach Like a Champion. Techniques such as the Threshold and Entry and Exit Routines and Double Planning have proved to be so helpful that they are now adopted as general policy for all staff.
Mrs Sibhozo (middle) with her school's two Edupeg mentors, Bill Holderness and Avryl Smith
One advantage of this is that the learners begin to experience continuity as they move between teachers, and from year to year. She reports that a calmer, and more orderly atmosphere prevails - which is more conducive to teaching and learning.
Shumikazi’s willingness to share her own planning with her staff has opened the way for class visits. She prepares the teachers for this by supporting them before the visit and by making her expectations clear. Thereafter she maintains a programme of regular monitoring in which she "moves around and checks". This has led to teamwork and cooperation amongst the staff.
After interacting with Edupeg Leadership Workshop materials, Shumikhazi and her staff developed an Action Plan to incorporate certain routines and Double Planning. The latter is seen as supporting the CAPS curriculum planning requirements.
She has engaged with the local community of parents who express their support and appreciation for what Edupeg brings to the school and their children. She reports that the learners even speak about Edupeg at home.
She has engaged with local councilors to encourage more of the local community to send their children to the school, thereby increasing the enrolment number, which has already risen this year.
She emphasises that the mentor feedback time is important to her and very helpful. She appreciates the sympathetic understanding displayed by the mentors in supporting the slow but steady progress of the school.
Her vision for the school is that it will grow. She hopes that the grounds and general appearance
of the school will be made more attractive until eventually it becomes the local school of choice.
Since she arrived at the school, her wish has been for the school to have a library. After having seen the new Ntlemeza Literacy Centre and how it is used, she has become even more inspired to have one at her school.
Shumikazi’s closing words were: "When I see my mentors, these words come to mind: ‘Here comes help, they bring light".
This schools exemplifies the principle of "small changes making a big difference".