Launch of QEF’s first Gr 7 Maths Common Assessment Paper

We proudly announce the Queenstown Education Foundation’s first ever Grade 7 Mathematics Common Assessment Paper which has just been written by learners of seven primary schools affiliated to our Foundation, situated within the Eastern Cape town of Komani/Queenstown, and surrounds.

Gr 7 Learners at Stepping Stone write QEF’s Common Assessment Paper

Although Common Assessment Papers already exist (for example IEB’s Core Competencies exam and the Conquesta Exams), the QEF Gr 7 Common Assessment is unique in that it is the result of a development process that fostered inter-school dialogue and cross-learnings between Gr 7 and Gr 8 Maths teachers teaching at various schools within the same town.

The subject of their discussions was centered around the guiding question: How do we create exceptional confidence around matric Maths?

We started in June this year, included 20 Maths teachers in a Community of Practice and discussed what Maths textbooks, topics, skills, competencies and attitudes would empower learners to most confidently enter Gr 8 Maths and go on to succeed in their Matric Maths.

These topics will deepen next year with (we hope) more opportunity to meet face-to-face.

The QEF paper covers the total year’s syllabus and each Gr 7 teacher chose for themselves whether to use it only, or in conjunction with their own year-end paper. Each school remains autonomous in this. Much of the Gr 8 intake of QEF-affiliated high schools comes from local QEF-affiliated primary schools. The paper is however not intended as a tool to assess promotion to Gr 8.

The scripts are now in the process of being marked and moderated by Gr 7 teachers Mathews Koshy (Queen’s College Boys’ Primary School), Roche de Villiers (Laerskool Hangklip Primary), Karen Coetzer (Balmoral Girls’ Primary School), Cheroldine Morrison (Q GAP), Ryan Nel (Southbourne Primary), Sandra Prinsloo (Stepping Stone Primary) and Patrick Aadejei (Whit GAP).

Words of Thanks
Thanks go to all the participants in our Maths Common Assessment Task Team who contributed their perspective and time to lift this project off the ground in order to move a step closer in realising QEF’s vision of transforming Queenstown into a centre of universally-recognised educational excellence.

Thanks also especially go to Mathews Koshy for volunteering to set this year’s first paper (The team deliberated on his marking memo with him). Thanks also go to Roche De Villiers for translating it into Afrikaans and to Charwin Knoetze for her assistance in typesetting both papers.

Besides the Gr 7 teachers mentioned above, the Task Team also included these Maths boff teachers from our various affiliated school: Les Vincent (Queen’s College Boys’ High School), Colin Hartley (Queen’s College Boys’ Primary School), Grant Knoetze (Queen’s College Boys’ Primary School), Shelly Goldschmidt (QTN Girls’ High School), Angelique van Wyk (Hoerskool Hangklip), Chanelle Bredenkamp (QTN Girls’ High School), Nicholas Zata (Get Ahead College), Surprise Mdlala (Get Ahead College); Arno Swart (Southbourne Primary), John Duncan (Laerskool Hangklip), Megan Jackson (Hexagon High School) and Wandisile Maseko (Hexagon High School) 

New 4iR Classroom launched by one of our ODN subscribers

This morning we attended Get Ahead College‘s launch of its #4iR Classroom and felt the buzz of excitement as the ribbon was cut, making way for the reveal of its innovative hardware. GAP is a subscriber of QEF’s Overarching Digital Network (ODN) and we are thrilled to see how GAP is pushing the boundaries in high school education within our town, Komani.

According to the World Economic Forum, Technological Intelligence is one of the building blocks of the new “smart” leadership, spurred on by the chaos created by global Covid19 lockdowns. Read more here: World Economic Forum Releases Framework to Help Investors Address Six Global Risks

QEF promotes that we count on our educational leaders to embrace technology, to generate solutions and drive the kind of transformation that offers magnificent opportunities to school learners studying in Komani.

Congratulations to Executive Director Vicki Du Preez and Principal Pieter Steyn on your new space, and to all those who collaborated to make it happen: Get Ahead Board member, pilot and Founder of Sakhikamva Foundation Fatima Jakoet and sponsor SoftwareAG.

Happy Teachers Day

We join the worldwide community in celebrating and thanking all the educators in our affiliated schools here in the Eastern Cape, who teach, inspire and care for the youth of our town. Our country’s future leaders are nurtured and shaped by you!

QEF honoured to join the SA Extraordinary Schools Coalition

Today QEF was honoured to take its first online seat at the long-standing SA Extraordinary Schools Coalition of Bridge.We joined fellow education innovation organisations like TCF Pakistan, Teach The Nation (SA), Global Teachers Institute, The Centre of Science and Technoogy (COSAT) (Khayelitsha), Inanda Seminary and Leap Science and Maths Schools.

The focus of our discussion was to explore the programmatic innovations available in South Africa – and internationally – to ensure that learners thrive in the 4IR.

QEF supports a growing network of contrasting and collaborating schools in our rural South African town of Komani (formerly known as Queenstown), to build resilience and innovation together, through technological advancements, cost efficiencies and academic Communities of Practice.

It was good to be surrounded by like-minded organisations.
Thank you Bridge!

If you are interested in more detail, you are welcome to read Meeting Highlights published by Bridge.

Get Ahead Schools appoint new Executive Director

We congratulate Vicki Du Preez on her appointment as Executive Director to the Get Ahead Schools, one of QEF’s Overarching Digital Network (ODN) subscribers. We wish you every success in your new duties and look forward to your input on all collaboration decisions and opportunities!

For the past three years, Vicki has held the role of Head of Corporate and Community Relations and Fundraising where she was responsible for developing the brand of the Get Ahead Schools in the Komani community, along with fundraising and stakeholder engagement.

Her leadership in Komani’s school community also extends to being the Chair of the School Governing Body of Queenstown Girls’ High School and Vicki also serves as a member of QEF’s Digital Executive Committee.

Update on QEF’s Overarching Digital Network

The dramatic impact on schools of the Covid19 lockdown, as well as the teething issues of launching QEF’s Overarching Digital (OA) network and server design has prompted Johan Bester and Stephan Coetzer, our IT Managers, to reassess our initial plans.

Research and Development

Ongoing research and re-design will always be part and parcel of our ensuring we have a robust, future proof network. But during the 1st phase of our OA Network deployment, we found bandwidth limitations between our schools and off site backup location to be a deterring factor in proceeding with the current Network roll-out plan. It has been challenging and exciting to reassess and totally redesign our network to stabilise it and fulfil our obligations to our subscriber schools.

Network Design

We are designing a modular system to ensure that we eliminate copying each school’s data as far as possible; rather moving it directly across to The Hub in the most cost efficient way possible. This should eliminate the challenges of transferring vast amounts of data through both the internet and intranet channels. We await the feedback from School Governing Bodies on our proposed Network upgrade.

Server Design

Experience has shown that finance servers and the Department of Basic Education’s SAM servers are vulnerable to hackers. Building a new Fin Server is therefore necessary. We have also secured the Bursars’ laptops of Stanford Lake College and Balmoral Girls’ Primary School by ensuring that logins happen directly through the dedicated Virtual Private Network (VPN).  The SAMS Server has been secured already for all schools, with the FIN server to follow.

Security

Privacy and security in a school environment is paramount. Staff and students need only see what they must. Bear in mind that we need to secure over a 1000 devices between our subscriber schools. We are therefore constantly evolving and eliminating the opportunity for security breaches to our Network.

During the Covid19 lockdown one of our schools got severely hacked to the extent that even our backup Google Drive was left encrypted.  In conclusion we now know that Google Drive is not sufficient as our schools’ primary backup solution. We have therefore re-designed our backup solution to eliminate threats. Most of the relevant equipment has been delivered and this new build will start today, June 15, 2020.

Training

With the need for teachers to deliver blended learning, many of our schools have opted for the Google Classroom platform.  We have been able to provided Girls’ High School, Balmoral Girls’ Primary School and Get Ahead Project Queenstown (soon to be trained) with training on how to use the platform for the exchange of files between teachers and learners.

Queenstown Principals’ Forum and QEF encouraged by District Director

Top row: Marieta Kilian (Queenstown Get Ahead Project), Pieter Steyn (Get Ahead College), Janse van der Ryst (Queen’s College Boys’ High School), Henco Serfontein (Laerskool Hangklip) and Albre Wagenaar ( Hoerskool Hangklip High School).
Middle row: Theo Anaxagoras (Queenstown Girls’ High School), Bianca Le Roux (Balmoral Girls’ Primary School), Marelise Bekker (Southbourne Primary School) and DD N. De Bruyn.
Third row: Bonnie Thomas (Whittlesea Get Ahead Project), Lester Pike ( Queen’s College Boys’ Primary School) and Mr Mooi [Gali Tembani (formerly JJ Serfontein High School)].
Apologies were given by Malcolm Lentoor (Hexagon High School) and Ena Smuts (Stepping Stone Primary School).

This week the Director of the Eastern Cape Department of Education’s (ECDoE’s) Chris Hani West District Mr N. De Bruyn, who governs 398 schools within his district and is well known for his strong no-nonsense leadership style, said he was excited by what he heard and saw of the Queenstown Education Foundation (QEF) and 11 of its affiliate schools’ principals, all members of the historic Queenstown Principals Forum, and encouraged them to intensify their struggle for quality education and put their town firmly on the map!

 The Forum includes both government and independent schools. At its informal event on Monday 18th November, the Forum’s Chairman Mr Lester Pike, offered Mr de Bruyn the Forum’s support as partners and allies in the quest for discipline and value-led education that he leads in the district. In turn the District Director encouraged all principals to go from strength to strength and move heaven and earth to involve more stakeholders, especially parents. He also challenged the Forum to look for ways to include Principals of under-resourced and dysfunctional schools, taking them under its wing.

Though no stranger to the all-round excellent achievements and facilities of the high functioning schools in his district, Mr De Bruyn heard from each principal about their ethos and efforts to become more inclusive. Many described programmes they have initiated to work with less privileged schools around them.

Mr N. De Bruyn, director of the Chris Hani West District was informed of QEF’s vision and current activities by its stakeholder relations manager Jacqueline Wijtenburg and warmly welcomed by Lester Pike, this year’s chairman of the Queenstown Principals’ Forum.

QEF’s stakeholder communication manager Jacqueline Wijtenburg briefed him on its overarching vision and current activities as it strives to create a universally-recognised centre of educational excellence in the country, driven by a nucleus of public and private schools, all intent on being agents for the development of our country’s future leadership.

In his closing remarks, Mr De Bruyn stressed that “Where you are struggling, stakeholders will move mountains. Schools belong to the community and where parents are involved, schools excel.”

He added that the district is not yet where it’s meant to be and especially noted how important it is for schools promote language efficiency.

“Let other schools learn from you. Intensify your struggle for quality education,” he concluded.