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Gauteng Primary Literacy and Mathematics Strategy

This project provides lesson plans and supports the integration of the GPLMS into the districts.

Name of organisation/service provider: Gauteng Department of Education; Class Act; Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy; Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance

Duration of Project: 2014 - 2016

Programme: Systemic Programme

Where is the Project based: Gauteng


The Gauteng Primary Literacy and Mathematics Strategy (GPLMS) was developed to improve learner performance in Literacy and Mathematics in underperforming primary schools in Gauteng. The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) based this intervention on the results of the 2008 Systemic Evaluation for Grade 3 Literacy in which 792 out of 1347 primary schools performed at or below 40%.

The GDE launched Phase I of the GPLMS from 2010 – 2014 with a focus on teacher learning and classroom practice to improve learner performance. Phase I concentrated on improving teaching practice by introducing scripted daily lesson plans which explicitly mapped out teaching content, teaching methods, curriculum coverage, sequencing and remediation. The lesson plans were used in conjunction with supplementary tools and resources (e.g. textbooks and graded readers). The GPLMS employed instructional coaches to work with the teachers on a one-to-one basis in their classes in order to establish and encourage the new practices.

A difference in mean performance score in the GPLMS schools and the non-GPLMS schools was recorded in the years between 2008 and 2012 and the performance gap between them narrowed from -31.6% to -17.7% and continues to improve. The GPLMS is confident that this difference in mean performance scores can be attributed to the intense, focused support in Phase I of the GPLMS. Thus it appeared that changing teacher practice by means of scripted lessons, instructional coaching and appropriate resources was having an impact on learner performance.

An independent evaluation showed that the programme needed to be insititutionalised within the structures of the GDE to sustain the gains and new classroom practices associated with those gains. The evaluation also recommended that the programme be extended for an additional five years.

The Zenex Foundation supports three areas in the GPLMS, namely:

  • the versioning of lesson plans by Class Act;
  • the development of learning materials (Vula Bula African Language Readers by Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy), and
  • mainstreaming the GPLMS through training and capacity building of the district officials to be managed by Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance (MGSLG). The GPLMS team is being supported by Zenex to develop the implementation plan.

Details of the project intervention

Training requirements

District officials will be trained to provide support to schools in the new way of working.


The existing 30 titles of graded readers for the Foundation Phase will be increased by extending the Vula Bula series in order to extend independent reading.

Lesson plans will be revised to suit English second language learners.

A two-pronged approach will be used in Phase II of the Project from 2015 to 2019:

  • firstly, institutionalising the GPLMS with a view to scaling more widely to more schools in the province. A change management programme will be instituted to embed a differentiated GPLMS programme in Gauteng.
  • secondly, improving the resources, training and support for transforming teacher practice from Phase I. Twelve specific projects were identified for improving resources, training and support for transforming teacher practice.

Revision and publishing the GPLMS lesson plans

Highly scripted lesson plans will be updated annually for Grades 1 to 7. Zenex will contribute to the Foundation Phase Literacy lesson plans.

The ‘20/40+ Vula Bula graded reader project’ expanding African Language graded readers for the Foundation Phase

Every class will have a minimum of 40 copies of 20 different graded readers plus books for extended reading, so that children can read at least 20 books a year. In Phase I, 32 graded readers were supplied for the Foundation Phase.

Training programme on how to use the subject content DVDs to support teacher development undertaken by school managers and/or districts

In Phase II, a practical training course will be designed for district and school management teams for teacher development, making use of existing training DVDs. An additional DVD will be developed to facilitate training using DVDs.

Training programme on how to help schools manage the curriculum for district officials

This will incorporate professional training on DVDs covering aspects such as strategic leadership, CAPS policy alignment, lesson plans, assessment, managing resources, curriculum management, language issues and the effective use of the Annual National Assessments.

Specific results to be achieved

Instructional change

The change theory at the centre of the GPLMS project stresses the need to change existing teachers' instructional practices - in the subjects of Language and Mathematics - and drive instructional practices by scripted lesson plans supported by training and coaching and appropriate resources. Teachers are provided with all the necessary tools and resources to use as specified in the lesson plans.


The programme will be sustained by the Gauteng Department of Education in order to support the gains in achievement and new classroom practices associated with those gains. In doing this, the strategy will be incorporated into the core business of the Department, with less reliance on contracted project managers and instructional coaches, and resources for training and support for improving teacher practice will be provided.

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