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Exploring the role of Peacedale District teacher development centre in supporting teacher professional learning.

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Date

2018

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Abstract

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, the education system in South Africa has been characterised by numerous innovations, some of which were aimed at providing supportive and engaging environments for the ongoing learning and development of teachers. These changes included programmes for the continuous professional development of teachers. Various challenges experienced in teacher education and development, especially by teachers in South Africa, were highlighted at the Teacher Development Summit held in July 2009. The Summit resulted in a Declaration that called for the development of a new integrated national Plan for teacher development in the country. The Plan recognises the need to enhance teacher support at the local level by providing teachers with access to resources and continuing professional development opportunities close to where they live and work. In order to achieve this objective, one of the outputs of the Plan was to establish District Teacher Development Centres (DTDCs) across all provinces. The provincial education departments in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) were tasked with establishing the DTDCs according to the norms and standards defined for these centres. Therefore, the aim of the study aims to explore the role of Peacedale District Teacher Development Centre in supporting teacher professional learning. The case study adopted a qualitative design within an interpretive paradigm. Data was generated through semi-structured interviews and observation. The sample consisted of five primary and high school teachers from schools in the vicinity of the DTDC, and three members of the centre personnel. The study utilised purposive and convenient sampling. The findings of the study revealed that the resources at the centre were not fully utilised due to lack of awareness on the part of the teachers, resources not fully functional, the long distances that teachers need to travel to reach the centre, as well as the shortage of trained personnel to assist the them. The centre supports teacher collaborative learning by providing Professional Learning Communities with a venue to hold meetings, use computers and have access to internet. Teacher learning at the centre takes place in the form of both voluntary activities, namely, PLCs, as well as imposed activities, namely, curriculum workshops. It is evident that the major activities that take place at the centre are the CAPS workshops held by the curriculum support staff of the department of Basic Education (DBE). Most of the teachers visit the centre only for the purposes of attending a workshop. Therefore, the centre needs to make its services known to teachers in order to operate in its full potential.

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Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

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