I4P Public Lecture

7th Nov 2016, 12:15pm - 1:45pm

Faculty of Education

Preschool class in South African township, close-up

‘School and Community Development in Rural South Africa: Participatory Approaches’ 

Guest Speakers

  • Mr Bruce Damons: Director: Centre for the Community School Faculty of Education, Nelson Mendela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
  • Professor Lesley Wood: Research Professor, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • Dr Mary McAteer: Director of Professional Learning Programmes, Edge Hill University

Despite the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994, and the move towards full democracy, there are still major legacy issues of access to quality education.  Socio-economic adversity is a key challenge in rural (black) communities, and has significant, negative impact on children’s educational achievement.  Educational standards are amongst the lowest in the world.

This event presents two papers which report on a school-community project designed to enable meaningful community-school relationships which will enrich both the lives of community members, and the life-chances of the school children.  Both projects have been undertaken through participatory methodologies, drawing on the inherent strengths and knowledge-bases which already exist within the community.

  • Seminar 1 – Bruce Damons As previous principal of Sapphire Road Primary School, Port Elizabeth, Bruce Damons aspired to change the lives of not only learners but the communities that served the school. Schools in disadvantaged areas face many socio-economic challenges which impact negatively on the quality of education. He argues that community volunteers can help such schools to deal with the complex challenges that confront them. Little has been written about how to support and sustain community volunteerism in challenging socio- economic contexts. This seminar reports on a participatory action learning and action research project, designed to work with sixteen community volunteers to qualitatively generate and analyse data to inform a complementary learning framework, which takes account of the personal, political and professional worlds of the participants as they support the teaching and learning processes in a school.
  • Seminar 2 – Lesley Wood and Mary McAteer Lesley and Mary’s work builds on that of Bruce Damons.  Teachers and teaching assistants from a primary school in a socio-economically disadvantaged community in South Africa identified a need to improve school-community cooperation in the education of their children. True to the tenets of PAR, they were adamant that parents and community members themselves would be the key voices in the design and development of the research process. They thus aimed to enable community members (teaching assistants and wider community), working in partnership with teachers, to identify their own needs in relation to supporting their children at school and use this knowledge to develop a programme that could be implemented by the teaching assistants in the community.  In this way, they hoped to provide greater accessibility, and improve its success and sustainability. This paper reports on findings of a qualitative analysis of the data gathered by the 12 participants (7 TAs/5 teachers) from parents  within the wider community about the support they would like to have from the school to enable them, in turn, to support the learning of their children. This project is funded by the British Academy Newton Fellowship Scheme.


  • 11.45am – Registration and Refreshments
  • 12.15pm – Event Start
  • 1.45pm – Event close

The Conference Programme is available to download. (schedule is subject to change)  https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/i4p/files/2016/10/I4P-Programme-07-Nov.pdf

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