PILO works with Provincial Education Departments and South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) to design, test and implement change programmes aimed at improving learner outcomes. PILO provides support to school management teams through district-based support teams, promoting positive system changes. These changes relate to the curriculum management processes, practices and relationships that lead to incremental improvement in curriculum coverage.
The support provided comprises materials and strategies which can be adapted to a range of teaching contexts, utilising unique and evidence based professional and developmental practices for collaborative engagement by officials.
The programme is based on the principle of “What I do matters”. Through daily routines and practices, with learners at the centre, the programme improves the management of what is taught and what is learnt.
PILO’s systemic approach is directed towards refining our children’s learning outcomes at scale. It does this by improving professional practice through collaboration to upgrade curriculum coverage, thereby enhancing children’s ‘opportunity to learn’
PILO does not operate as a service provider offering support but ensures that implementation of all aspects of the programme are driven through the public education system structures. In simple terms, we are building institutional routines of teacher support in schools, and between schools and districts. Curriculum coverage (defined as what learners learn) is the shared focus of institutionalising practices of support.
We have demonstrated our ability to scale. By 2020 we have worked in 4 provinces. In these provinces, we have worked with officials in 33 districts assisting them to better support the curriculum management practices of school management teams in approximately 8000 schools (with 150 000 teachers and approximately 4 million learners). In 2021 our Free State and Gauteng programmes ended. We are currently operating in KZN where we are supporting the department to build the programme into its institutional practices independently of PILO support.
From inception, PILO designed the programme to improve learning outcomes so that the costs of sustaining the intervention could be carried within the existing resources of the Department. The costs of introducing and consolidating the change were to be carried externally by partners. In the case of KZN, the initial costs of the trial at scale (2015 to 2018) were the highest because, to have ‘proof of concept’, PILO SMT trainers and coaches supported schools directly. This is not sustainable in the long term and at scale. Once proof of concept was established, and as Jika iMfundo was introduced to more Districts, more and more schools and learners were reached at a lower cost to the change partner as the external support diminished. This was possible because the province and the districts accepted the responsibility of embedding the desired changes at school level by driving these in the key practices of district and provincial officials.