Today, the weather resembled Scotland with a grey, overcast and rainy sky. The temperature was welcome though and the rains much needed here as there is a drought. Maize which should be six feet tall, is withering and scrawny standing 3-4 feet tall and families are already worried about April’s harvest.
The air was surprisingly filled with the smell of popcorn as we arrived at Zingwangwa and began the day, as at Chitsime, by shooing in a bunch of very reluctant learners who had scoffed their porridge and were hot footing it back home.....only one got away! The SMC have agreed to have a roster to ensure an adult is at the gate each day.
For the first time this trip, we began our self evaluation discussions with a plethora of information available from the HT, Hastings. His office is papered with flip chart graphs, charts and lists of information which allowed me to almost complete my quantitative evidence gathering before we began??
Zingwangwa has enjoyed steady success over the years of the monitoring programme and yet again, came up trumps. Particularly impressive was the reduced numbers of learners who were repeating the standard again.
Also, in a school of 3700 children not a single child was dropped out of education: exemplary in this context. It was great to see that advice given last year to provide examination practice has been heeded and the exam pass rate for S8 was 96% with more than double the number of learners being selected for secondary school than last year. This really is improving the life chances of learners and providing education which will allow a step out of poverty.
While the rest of the team began focus groups and class observations, I chatted to the specialist SEN teacher, John Chekani. He was so proud his base was empty as all learners with SEN were in mainstream classes receiving his support there. The CPD he had given teachers had given them confidence to support the children when he was elsewhere. John is a real character and there was a lot of laughing and some fake modesty on his part as I introduced him to Michele as a TV star (John featured in a TV programme a few years ago showcasing the work of Holyrood Secondary and my pal Tom MacDonald, who was crowned Chief Zingwangwa last year!)
Tom has a very soft spot for one S7 learner, Wes who has severe cerebral palsy. When they first met, Wes had extremely limited mobility and was crawling round the classroom if he wasn’t ‘walking’ by standing on the feet of John Chekani. Wes now has a lovely wheelchair which he showed off last year. Today, he was in the mainstream class learning when I sought him out. When I called his name, he stood up and albeit with an awkward gait, walked unaided across the classroom to greet me. He even showed off his running technique. The message he has sent to his special pal is beautiful.
A quiet moment before Michele’s CPD allowed me to enjoy some fresh popcorn sold at a tuck shop and discuss the recent wedding of the HT. Such lovely news and bashfully shared.
Zingwangwa has the capacity to grow further and to share the effective practice they have embedded. A great M&E session.
No team photo today but the video of Michele singing during her CPD session will make up for it :)