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The National School Performance Review – working with government education structures - Steve Blunden
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The National School Performance Review – working with government education structures - Steve Blunden


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This presentation highlights the role of government in monitoring an evaluation of public education and outlines the experience of Link Community Development working with state schools in Ghana, …

This presentation highlights the role of government in monitoring an evaluation of public education and outlines the experience of Link Community Development working with state schools in Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa and Kenya.

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  • Thank you. Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues – to borrow a phrase from our South African colleagues 'all protocol observed'. I am here to share we have called 'Achievable Education for All'. What we mean by that is, given the reality of resources – budget, people, levels of education, infrastructure – what is the reality facing the majority of countries in Sub Saharan Africa with regard to their goal of achieving education for all? What is the best they can achieve?
  • Much of what I am presenting is drawn from a seminar which LCD co-facilitated, with the support of CCFE and with financial support from CF, OSF, DFID Ethiopia and EU. The Seminar brought together key MoE officials and district education managers from five countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda. Each one of these countries reflecting internally on their own LCD facilitated district improvement projects. They presented their case studies and areas of common challenge and common learning were discussed.
  • Andthese are the participants:
  • First, who do I work for? Link Community Development is an international family of local NGOs registered in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda, supported by organisations in England/Wales, Ireland, Scotland and USA. And what do we do? We work in partnership with MoE, supporting their EFA agenda. We focus specifically on selected districts, normally two, and support the district education office in its attempt to improve education quality in all schools within the district.
  • The districts where we operate include: Wolaita Zone in Southern Region in Ethiopia Bolgatanga and Talensi Nabdam in Upper East in Ghana Dedza and Mulanje in Malawi Eastern Cape and Limpopo in South Africa Buiisa, Kamwenge, Katakwi and Masindi in Uganda.
  • Link has been operating since 1989. Our initial focus was in South Africa, focusing on rural primary schools that were starved of investment and support by the Apartheid government With the political change in South Africa, Link registered as a local NGO there and began to engage directly with the new Department of Education, now responsible for the entire country's schools. We initially focused on a 'whole school development' model with input from Hopkins, Heargreaves and others and adapted this into a 'whole district development' model which takes much more account of the policy environment and the MoE role in ensuring school functionality. We expanded to Ghana, Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia an applied 'whole district' learning.
  • Each of the countries where we are working has some common factors: They are all attempting to achieve universal primary education The are all involved in some form of restructuring and decentralisation including specific focus on the role of the district education office. And with Link, they have developed approaches to measuring school performance and utilising that information to inform planning at school and district level.
  • School Performance Review, is an attempt to enable MoE to improve school performance by measuring performance of all schools against a benchmark created from assessing the indicators of success in the best performing schools in the district. In other words, within the current budget and policy environment, some schools are performing better than others. Achieveable Education for All focuses on how we use performance measurement to drive change in all schools in an attempt to achieve the benchmark. So SPR identified the highest standard. Sets that as the benchmark. Develops indicators and collection instruments to enable collection of data. And a whole cycle of engagement which I will describe to engage with the reports at school, community and district level.
  • This is a generic SPR cycle. It isn't applied in this form in any one of the countries but this cycle is drawn from each of the countries, each of whom have some or all of the above elements. Key is that this is a total district management cycle – SPR is not a one off bolt on. That is the main difference between SPR and many donor driven school report card processes which, unintentionally perhaps, become separate silos, often managed outside of MoE, with separate accountability processes to those managed by MoE and districts. I will take you through each step now.
  • One of the first aspects of SPR design is to separate school performance appraisal and planning from delivery and to have a clear planning process with a clear start and end period, which can involve all district staff, even if they are normally fulfilling a specialist role.
  • Before we have the school visit, we will of course have the process for developing the collection instruments and training of district officials to prepare for SPR visits to schools. One part of the SPR collection process is data management. We've designed an open source database that allows district officials to input their own data, in some cases in schools on the day of the review, and to produce a range of simple reports to inform discussion with the school and to later inform both the district report and school performance report. The actual SPR visit normally involves a team of 2 or 3 staff for one day. So it is a snapshot, delivered in every school to give an overall summary view of performance.
  • This is typical of an SPR report for a school in Limpopo. You will see that it is in graph form, with bars indicating the school performance, district average and best school in the district to give some comparison. The indicators are prime indicators with a range of sub indicators informing the prime indicators. Schools receive the SPR framework with indicators and collection criteria in advance so they are aware of the process and each collection process.
  • Following data collection, the data needs to be collated and analysed. When this is done properly, the data analysis includes data from all sources including EMIS and any other source of school performance data. To be frank, without SPR applied, districts we've worked with were rarely reviewing data in advance of planning.
  • And this is what a circuit summary of SPR data looked like in a Limpopo circuit. Of course the data could be presented looking at all schools performance against one indicator and other derivations.
  • Obviously the data analysis informs district planning. An essential process here is to undertake an audit of district capacity – what resources are available for them to utilise. In environments where plans tend not to materialise, it is key that district plans are deliverable, delivered and reflected upon. All basic planning requirements! Demonstrating that monitoring takes place and results in change is key for longer term confidence in the process and the MoE.
  • Once we've reflected and planned – now we have to share our reports and plans. This is normally achieved in a district or circuit education conference involving all head teachers and representatives of school governing bodies.
  • A brief look into a circuit conference which took place earlier this year in Vhumbedzi Circuit in Limpopo to give you an idea of the participants.
  • A key part of the conference is sign off on district plans – and in particular where those plans engage schools either with centre based training or school based support. At their best, district planned activities are included in the school improvement plans.
  • The school performance appraisal meeting – helps parents understand What schools should be offering their children What their responsibilities are to support their children's education The quality of education their school is providing School Improvement Plan District or MoE planned interventions Note that in many cases, parents didn't go to school – their children are the first generation to attend school in their family.
  • An example of a SPAM in Wolaita Zone in Ethiopia
  • We started this investment in SPR because schools we've come across appeared largely dysfunctional and without a target to improve or any direction or monitoring. It is no great surprise then if we are identifying dysfunctionality. Here are some of the findings...
  • Most of the countries participating are excited about SPR application. However, in practice, things tend to stop with the SPR report. Interpretation of the report and plans to change are often weak. A key ambition of course is for SPR to be taken to scale and for the diagnostics to be applied at MoE level. In Kampala, MoE teams did start to reflect on what the data, and their own knowledge of context, was saying about school performance and the reality for pupils.
  • Following a simulation training exercise, using a simulation game Link has developed to engage school management teams and school governing bodies with school management, the following questions were posed to six groups, 2 from Ethiopia and one each from Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and South Africa. Some of the questions brought different responses from the two Ethiopian groups. For example, when the question was raised 'what percentage of your children arrive at school having had a full breakfast', apart from discussion about what constitutes a full breakfast, it was only after SA initially said that before their school feeding scheme that their levels of pupil nourishment were so low, that Ethiopia felt able to suggest that nutrition was an issue for them.
  • One of the dangers of the SPR process is that the process becomes the focus and the report becomes the end product. Key in Kampala was a discussion about whether children are getting any educational benefit from attending school. Here are a summary of some of the key points raised.
  • Despite perhaps some of the pitfalls of the SPR process, most interest was in taking one aspect of the SPR process to a higher level – the school report card. Participants expressed an interest in different forms of school report card which could be shared widely and which could also be available on the web and inform MoE planning. Clearly the quality of data that informs the school report card is critical if the SRC is to inform wider decisions. Currently most SRC processes are utilising school self assessment of performance rather than district verified data as has been tested by SPR.
  • And here is Charles Aheto-Tsega DDG of GES in Ghana, presenting the school report card model as applied by GES in Ghana.
  • So what next? Well as I've said, as you'd expect, most of the focus has been on the process of SPR itself rather than interpretation of results and policy impleications. What Kampala provided was chance to reflect on the reality and barriers to delivering 'quality'. We hope that the 'Regional SPAM'' which we facilitated in Kampala will inform national SPAMs in the participating countries, to reflect on their realities. We are pleased to see that South Africa has already developed a new plan in Limpopo to take the SPR learning to scale.
  • And to end, there is no question that bringing together teams from different countries creates different dynamics. For example, the willingness of South Africa to be open about its challenges, even with its fiscal advantage, encouraged more openness in other teams than perhaps would be seen publicly. People worked hard and as you can see, were 'together' by the time the workshop ended.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Link Community Development: Achievable Education for AllLong term district level programme working in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda
    • 2. Kampala Conference Kampala AEFA conference 18-22 June 2012 in partnership with CCFE Supported by the Commonwealth Foundation, DFID Ethiopia, EU and the Open Society Foundation MoE and district representatives from Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda
    • 3. Kampala 18-22 June 2012
    • 4. Link Community Development in Sub Saharan Africa Education NGO working in Ethiopia Ghana Malawi South Africa and Uganda In partnership with MoE Focus on District education office impact on learner outcomes Programme design is a two district model, engaging every school within two+ districts in each country
    • 5. Districts Wolaita Zone in SNPPR in Ethiopia Bolgatanga, Talensi Nabdaam (UER) and BAK (Ashanti) in Ghana Dedza and Mulanje in Malawi E Cape and Limpopo in South Africa Buiisa, Kamwenge, Katakwi and Masindi in Uganda
    • 6. LCD Interventions 1993-1996 Whole school development (South Africa) 1997 – 2003 Whole district development (S Africa, Ghana, Uganda) 2003 – 2012 School performance review (Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa and Uganda)
    • 7. Common Factors Each country is trying to deliver universal primary education Each country has introduced a version of decentralisation which requires district education offices or their equivalent to take responsibility for school performance Each country is engaged with district level school monitoring and support activities Each country has developed their version of school performance review
    • 8. School Performance Review SPR identifies an achievable standard of school performance SPR measures school performance in all schools against that standard SPR provides diagnostics for school and district planning to improve school performance SPR reports are shared with parents who discuss school performance at the School Performance Appraisal Meeting
    • 9. SPR cycle Data Delivery , School based analysis Circuit support, Monitoring, & School reflection... Circuit Conference Planning SPR School Visits TERM 1 TERM 2May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June School Performance Appraisal Meetings
    • 10. TERM 3 TERM 4 TERM 1 TERM 2 10 weeks The planning Phase The delivery phase2007 June July Aug Sep Oct - Dec 2008 Jan Feb Mar Apr May June SCHOOL SCHOOL SUPPORT & PERFORMANCE MONITORING REVIEW & INTEGRATED PLANNING
    • 11. SPR school visit 3 officials visit the school School for one day to collect data Performance Review school visits TERM 1 TERM 2 10 – 15 days2007 June July Aug Sep Oct - Dec 2008 Jan Feb Mar Apr May JuneEvery school visited and Open source databaseperformancemeasured against SPRindicators
    • 12. 12108 Column 16 Column 2 Column 3420 Row 1 Row 2 Row 3 Row 4
    • 13. District analysis of data TERM 1 TERM 2May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June All data from any source can be analysed Data analysis – not just SPR. Include 5 days WSE, Systemic evaluation etc
    • 14. School Performance Review reports
    • 15. District Planning Includingunions, selected Provincial policy Provincial policy Principals District & interventions feed into the interventions feed into the Circuit District workshop e.g. District workshop e.g. Planning Literacy strategy Literacy strategy workshop TERM 1 TERM 2 5 days May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May JuneOutputs: 1. District & Circuit SPR Report 2. District & Circuit Intervention plans 3. Draft school intervention plans 4. Timeframe for implementation
    • 16. District Education Conference All National & Provincial policy changes and planned interventions are also presented to all TERM 1 TERM 2 schoolsMay June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June District / Circuit Schools SPR Reports & draft intervention Conference plans presented to all schools for discussion
    • 17. Example: Vhembedzi Circuit Conference
    • 18. Developing plans which are delivered At the end At the end of each of each term, we term, we SPR also informs the need for SPR also informs the need for meet to meet to Centre based training to be reflect on reflect on Centre based training to be delivery and delivery and delivered at the start of terms 1 & delivered at the start of terms 1 & revisit plans revisit plans 22 TERM 1 TERM 2May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May JuneInterventions are onlyPlanned in Terms 1 & 2
    • 19. School Performance Appraisal Meetings Ensuring that Schoolschools have really performance understood SPR appraisal and have agreed meetings TERM 1 TERM 2 plans May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May JuneAppraisal meeting has 2 parts:1.School engages with District/Circuit Officialre planned interventions and agree SIP2.School presents the SPR report and agreedSIP to SGB and community in the presence ofthe District/Circuit Official
    • 20. SPAM: Ethiopia
    • 21. Reality Pupils are arriving at schools hungry Attending classes with 100+ learners Teaching in a language that teachers themselves are not competent in Drop out results especially after P1, P2 and P3 Focus on managing examination results masks the true rate of failure in our schools Even in SA, MoE states that 80% of schools are dysfunctional
    • 22. But what about policy makersSPR was always going to have success with the reporting phase and the engagement between school and community.The key phase is the engagement with district planning and at the macro level with MoE planning and budgeting.So how did SPR information inform discussion between district and MoE teams in Kampala?
    • 23. Key issues – from Kampala participants during Simulation training: Eth A Eth Gh Mal Ug S Afr BWhat is your effective pupil teacher ratio? 70 60 58 108 100 40What % of teachers have sufficient language 20% 40% 45% 60% 80% 20%competence?How many children arrive at school having eaten 20% 80% 40% 40% 20% 100%breakfast?Impact of engagement with District/Woreda 100% 75% 40% 75% 25% 85%What % of school age children are in school at P4 99% 98% 75% 80% 60% 98%age?
    • 24. So we can collect data, we can share it, but what does the data tell us? In short, the majority of schools are failing to deliver anything more than day care If we cant place educated teachers in our classrooms in rural schools, the current model of schooling is unlikely to succeed. If we dont improve quality and transition to secondary education, we wont produce enough educated students who could become teachers. If we cant produce enough Maths educated students, countries wont have the educated workforce to enable economic growth. Any parents who can afford to, send their children to private schools
    • 25. So what have we achieved with SPR?So far weve:Designed a process which enables district level staff to collect and analyse data at school level and inform school and district planningDemonstrated that this can be delivered by existing staffingDemonstrated that this can be taken to scale
    • 26. Next steps – School Report Cards That school monitoring and support processes are now a key part of MoE and district delivery All MoE teams wanted to learn more about the effective use of school report cards and the potential of web access to school report cards. Ghana MoE has promised to invite MoE teams to a workshop in Accra to learn more about their approach to school report cards.
    • 27. So what next with SPR?Most of the focus to date has been on producing SPR reports.Current emphasis (School Report Cards) is on access to that information by MoEKey is: facing up to our reality regarding quality: What macro and micro decisions need to be made to enable quality to enable quality education to be achieved.Kampala regional SPAM was a demonstration of what a national SPAM could represent.
    • 28. Next Steps to develop SPR1) Invest in web based school report card demonstration2) Invest in improved database to enable more flexible application in each country3) Invest in district and circuit performance report cards4) Review of Parent Participation and ‘rights and responsibilities’ posters / training to enable ‘demand pressure’ on school performance.
    • 29. SPR and PERI• MoE is normally responsible for monitoring State and Private schools. This rarely happens .• Parents have very poor school performance data to inform their decisions about school choice.• Parents have a lack of information about their entitlements and responsibilities.
    • 30. National SPR to measure performance of all schools• So our proposal is that the MoE should invest in school performance review of every school, every year, State or Private.• That this information is used for national, district and school planning• That this information is available for every parent• That this information is discussed at a school ‘SPAM’ enabling parents to ask questions and hold the school accountable for performance.
    • 31. Some questions for MoE• What is the unit cost of delivering State education compared with Private Schools?• In many cases, the unit cost in Private schools is lower.• Is this a case for more private schools or is it a challenge to improve the efficiency of the State sector?
    • 32. Ghana – quick reflection• Growing Private School sector• MoE/GES supply not responding to population shifts and urban development• Actual/Transaction cost of attending private schools can be lower than actual/transaction cost of attending State schools• Few MoE/GES/District officials place their kids in State schools• But education may become an election issue…