A key objective of BRIDGE is to link people and spread successful practice. One way in which BRIDGE does this is through communities of practice (CoPs), which connect practitioners and other stakeholders in education. Members engage in facilitated meetings and discuss topics of interest, share working practice and resources, and collaborate in innovative ways.
BRIDGE provides the infrastructure, planning, facilitation, reporting and knowledge management required for a successful community of practice. During the life-cycle of a community of practice, action groups form to take forward particular issues or ideas. These action groups emerge from the main community and report back to the main community.
All knowledge products and resources coming out of the work of BRIDGE communities of practice are Open Education Resources. Link to the BRIDGE Knowledge Hub for meeting highlights, presentations, tools and documented working practice from these communities.
BRIDGE’s approach to its communities of practice has the following features:
Communities of practice include those people most affected by a situation.
In the education sector this covers a range of groupings, including civil society, academics, business, funders, teachers, learners, principals, parents, research organisations, unions, and government at local, provincial and national levels.
Community of practice facilitation follows a particular methodological approach and a structured framework and is carried out by trained process facilitators.
BRIDGE communities of practice have defined outcomes for collaborative processes, which are measured and tracked.
Communities may also develop their own specific outcomes for the focus area of a particular community of practice.
BRIDGE invests in ongoing processes, where continuity is vital. Communities of practice meetings are not one-off engagements, but a series of consecutive interactions that build on each other to achieve greater impact.
Contextualised in national and provincial policy frameworks
The work of communities of practice is contextualised within policy frameworks. The communities operate nationally, at a district level and provincially, with linkages established among those levels. Linking different levels of the system is key to creating links between policy and practice. Although most national communities of practice are based in Gauteng, they focus on national issues and are frequently attended by participants from other provinces. While provincial communities of practice engage with national issues as well, they often address specific provincial and local concerns
If you want to read more about BRIDGE’s methodology for its communities of practice, read ‘The BRIDGE Way: BRIDGE Communities for Effective Practice’ (July 2011).
Our Communities of Practice 
School Leadership Communities of Practice
Effective leadership is the foundation for successful learning in schools, with the school principal playing a central role as a change agent. BRIDGE supports and capacitates school principals in their roles as instructional leaders in order to improve school functionality and enable productive teaching and learning.
Western Cape School Leadership CoP
Local Principals CoPs
TEACHER DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
The teacher is the main catalyst for developing confident and competent learners. Key to growing and supporting an effective teaching force in our country is understanding the challenges teachers face as well as their capacities, roles and responsibilities. BRIDGE believes that a focus on teacher development, both pre-service and in-service, is essential for long term impact on the system.
Teacher Development CoP (national)
Pre-service Teacher Development CoP (national)
Western Cape Teaching and Learning CoP
Learner Support Communities of Practice
South African learners face numerous challenges, and therefore require a diverse range of interventions. BRIDGE facilitates learner support by helping map various forms of provision and sharing important lessons in relation to a range of programmes.
Maths and Science CoP (national)
Post school Access CoP (national)
Western Cape Post-school Access CoP
Early Childhood Development Communities Of Practice
ECD is central to a child’s development: it lays the groundwork for successful learning, which in turn helps children progress confidently into formal schooling. By facilitating interaction between government, training providers and implementers, BRIDGE supports coordination and collaboration to increase quality and impact in this vital sector.
Early Childhood Development CoP (national)
Kwa-Zulu Natal Early Childhood Development CoP
Western Cape Early Childhood Development CoP
Cross Cutting Themes Communities of Practice
A community of practice might focus on various topics in a shared context, or on a specific interest which plays out in a number of contexts.
South African Extraordinary Schools Coalition (national)
Monitoring and Evaluation CoP (national)
Historical Communities of Practice and Focus Groups
Communities of practice have a life cycle, and BRIDGE has convened a number of CoPs which have come to an end. In addition, certain sub-groups known as ‘focus groups’ or ‘action groups’ have been formed to take up specific tasks. Resources generated by these CoPs are however still useful and relevant, and available on the website.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) in Education CoP
Western Cape Information Communication Technology in Education CoP
Western Cape Learner Support CoP
Mentorship Action Group
Learner Selection Focus Group
Saturday School Focus Group
Donor Collaboration CoP
BRIDGE also partners with a range of organisations to run communities of practice in various provinces in the context of specific interventions and funded projects.
This community of practice is a model of collaboration rather than competition. We need to break down silos or we won’t get impact in any meaningful way.