Education is a key priority identified by the South African government towards addressing poverty and inequality as envisioned in the National Development Plan 2030. To meet this national (and global) objective, educationists must improve the quality of schools in a comprehensive and sustainable way. Research indicates that external and top-down interventions fail to have any significant impact on learner performance outcomes. In view of this, members of BRIDGE’s South African Extraordinary Schools Coalition (SAESC) regularly engage in a school peer review process. The process functions as a reflective self-evaluation process, giving insight into a school’s effectiveness in agreed areas, provided by a group of peer colleagues working in similar contexts in their adopted role of ‘critical friend’. On 22 March 2017, seven teachers from SAESC and three BRIDGE staff members took up the role of ‘critical friend’, and engaged in the peer review of Prestige College in Hammanskraal.
The purpose of the peer review process was to promote whole school development by:
collaborating with and supporting participating schools,
sharing and developing best practices in all areas of the school,
identifying areas for growth and improvement, and
providing a framework to support the school’s internal development and growth.
The domains that were reviewed are:
Domain 1 – Leadership and Management
Domain 2 – Teaching and Learning
Domain 3 – Culture and Climate
Domain 4 – School and Community
In coming together to define excellence and measure each other’s progress toward this goal, SAESC members have established a supportive community of peers and put in place a process for continuous improvement. In this way, the peer review structure helps spread the learnings of one school to many schools, promoting quality improvement across a network so that all learners might attend an excellent school.