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Warwick team’s bid to transform education in South Africa underway

Tshikundamalema Secondary SchoolThe quality of education in one of South Africa’s most disadvantaged districts is set to be transformed following a visit to the country by a team from the University of Warwick.

A small group of staff spent last week (23 Jan – 1 Feb) in a variety of schools in the Vhembe district of Limpopo, hosted by members of the Limpopo Province Education Board and staff from the University of Venda (UNIVEN) – the partner institution for the project.

Funded by the British High Commission’s Prosperity Fund, the objective is to provide evidence-based recommendations to enhance the region’s quality of education in the areas of leadership, management and professional development for teachers, as well as the implementation of school-to-school support systems.

Nine schools were visited, including two of Vhembe district’s best performing secondary schools, alongside a mix of less well-resourced primary and secondary schools. The team was also fortunate enough to attend meetings with circuit managers in the district (who oversee the performance and support of the schools) and spend time with members of UNIVEN’s School of Education.

Laura Jackson with students from Tshivhase Secondary SchoolIan Abbott, Director of the University of Warwick’s Centre for Education Studies, said: “We discovered a group of fantastically motivated principals and senior school management staff in need of some extra guidance on how to make the most of the limited resources they have in their schools.

“Working alongside UNIVEN, we feel the suggestions we are able to make for improvement in areas such as school leadership and community engagement can make a marked difference to the way the schools work and, in turn, the educational achievements of the students.”

The trip follows a visit to the University of Warwick by a delegation from Limpopo and UNIVEN in October 2014, when the Centre for Education Studies delivered a week-long Leadership and Management Programme (LAMP) to a number of the Vhembe district’s head teachers.

Phil Whitehead, Senior Teaching Fellow in the Centre for Education Studies and lead for the project, added: “It was amazing to meet with our LAMP delegates again and visit some of their schools. We were able to find out how they are utilising the plans we made with them back in October and are starting to make significant changes to the way their schools are run.

Thengwe Secondary School“Of course, implementing change isn’t without challenge and added support is certainly needed to make sure things continue to move in the right direction. With this in mind, we are putting in a further bid to the British High Commission for some additional funding to support a subsequent trip to the district.”

The proposed follow up visit would see the University of Warwick and UNIVEN teams working with the LAMP head teachers on coaching a further group of school principals in the Vhembe district in elements of the programme to increase the reach of the work. This would then be followed by a final visit to the region for a full evaluation and impact study of the project.

Note to Editors:

Issued by Lee Page, Communications Manager, Press and Policy Office, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255, Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email:




Lee Page, Communications Manager

+44 (0)2476 574 255

+44 (0)7920 531 221