The perspectives of secondary school teachers regarding the flexible implementation of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement
Booysen, Rodean Marelise
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The Department of Basic Education (DBE) emphasises the importance of applying a flexible approach in teaching and learning in order to accommodate for the diverse learning needs and styles of all learners. However, it is important to note that this objective can only be met with the full cooperation of all teachers. They are central in ensuring that classroom practices, which include teaching strategies and assessment approaches, are flexible enough to accommodate for all learners. Hence, since no research could be found that has been conducted on the implementation of a flexible curriculum in the South African secondary school context, the purpose of this study was to explore the practicality of this goal by exploring the perspectives of secondary school teachers in Ennerdale regarding the flexible implementation of CAPS. Teachers in this study indicated that they believe that the flexible implementation of CAPS will be beneficial for all learners. However, they asserted that its effective implementation is hampered by too many challenges including the number of learners in classrooms, a strict syllabus, the type of learners, a lack of resources context of school, illiteracy levels of learners, learning capabilities, Language of Learning and Teaching, parental involvement, social issues, administrative workload, rigidness, support, training, limited time and a focus on pass percentages. Yet, despite the challenges noted by them, they declared that a flexible curriculum has benefits related to learner empowerment, differentiation, inclusion, a decrease in the drop-out rate, the promotion of a curriculum that includes more practical subjects, and cooperative learning by means of grouping activities. A sequential exploratory mixed-method design consisting of both qualitative and quantitative designs were employed. The qualitative methods included a document analysis and individual interviews, followed by a quantitative method using a self-constructed Likert scale questionnaire. The qualitative data was collected and analysed first, then based on the literature review, and from the findings of the first phase a quantitative questionnaire was developed. These findings were used to explore the findings of the initial phase. Content and constant comparative data analyses were used to analyse the qualitative data inductively and descriptive and inferential statistics derived from SPSS for the quantitative data. Participants from three of the four secondary schools in Ennerdale were purposively selected to partake in the study. The fourth school chose not to partake in the study. Fourteen teachers were included in the interviews while all teachers from the three schools had the option of completing the Likert scale questionnaire. From the possible 133 respondents 50 completed questionnaires were received, of which 48 were valid and fully completed. Findings indicated that teachers were aware that learners have diverse learning needs, therefore their teaching and assessment strategies should respond to these differences by means of differentiation as per the Guidelines for Inclusive Teaching and Learning and the Guidelines for responding to learner diversity in the classroom through Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements. Participants mostly used group work as a strategy aimed at enhancing teaching, especially for learners experiencing learning difficulties. The study also found that teachers are eager to go the extra mile in realising the flexible implementation of CAPS to the benefit of all learners in and outside of their classrooms. It appears that participants and respondents alike believe that with differentiation and a curriculum that responds to learners’ practical/ technical skills, all learners will have the opportunity to participate in the classroom and perform optimally. This will ultimately result in a decrease in the high learner drop-out rate in schools, along with empowering learners to become more motivated and driven.
- Education