Title page for ETD etd-05232011-140247

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Clasquin-Johnson, Mary Gertrude
Email mary-cj@mweb.co.za
URN etd-05232011-140247
Document Title Responses of early childhood teachers to curriculum change in South Africa
Degree PhD
Department Education Management and Policy Studies
Advisor Name Title
Dr N Phatudi Co-Supervisor
Dr C Amsterdam Supervisor
  • school readiness
  • teachers
  • curriculum change
  • early childhood education
  • Grade R
  • instructional leadership
  • National Curriculum Statement
  • playful learning
  • reception year
  • professional development
Date 2011-04-12
Availability unrestricted
In 2001 White Paper 5 on Early Childhood Development announced that a year-long Reception Year (Grade R) programme would gradually be phased in at primary schools. In addition, the Report on the Nationwide Audit of ECD Provisioning noted that the overwhelming majority of ECE teachers are inadequately trained. Despite the teachers’ lack of capacity, the national Department of Education introduced the official curriculum, the National Curriculum Statement (NCS), into Grade R classes in 2004. Prior to 2004, there was no official curriculum for Grade R. Instead, teachers designed their own curricula. The NCS, by its very imposition, is an example of radical curriculum change. I undertook a qualitative study from Grade R teachers' perspectives in order to illuminate how nine ECE teachers in Gauteng, South Africa are responding to this curriculum change.

My findings are consistent with the four main responses discussed in the literature, and on which I based my conceptual framework, namely ignore, resist, adopt and adapt. The Grade R teachers in my study viewed the NCS as developmentally inappropriate for their five-year-old learners. Although they manifested all four responses, they mainly resisted, adopted or adapted curriculum change. Their response could best be typified as "reluctant compliance". After six years of implementation, ignoring it completely is no longer a realistic option. In addition, they either reinterpreted their traditional practices as already compliant with the NCS or they implemented formal academic activities to develop school readiness skills The Grade R teachers in my study had one outstanding characteristic in common they are passionate about their work. Overall, the teachers reported that the NCS has detracted from their enjoyment of their work. In most cases, the Grade R teachers noted that they would pursue Foundation Phase posts because of the absence of a career path for Grade R teachers. Instructional leadership should be developed to support Grade R teachers to implement the NCS appropriately. Once this is in place, Grade R teachers need to be convinced of how the NCS could be implemented in developmentally and culturally appropriate ways and how this could benefit their learners.

© 2011 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Clasquin-Johnson, MG 2011, Responses of early childhood teachers to curriculum change in South Africa, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05232011-140247/ >


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