n South African Journal of Education - In need of deliberative inter-school relations in the Northern Cape




The legislation of several policy documents in relation to schooling over the past few years - of which the Norms and Standards for Educators (2000) appears to be the most significant - has brought into focus a renewed emphasis on improving schooling. The by now well-known outcomes-based model, which focuses on learner-centredness, team work, creative design of learning programmes, learner outcomes and flexible time frames to allow learners to work at their own pace, presents a major challenge to schools to co-operate and find common ground for effecting good education. In as much as policy urges schools to become better achievers by improving and developing teacher competences, organisational culture, learning programmes, leadership and community involvement in school governance, it seems that scant attention has been given to the question of inter-school relations vis-à-vis under-performing and high-performing schools. These schools, as I shall report and argue with reference to a case study in the Northern Cape province, continue to function mutually exclusively and independently of each other, thus posing a major threat to the notion of deliberative schooling. In this article, I argue that atomistic (independent) inter-school relations are pernicious and far too restrictive in cultivating genuine deliberative schooling, more specifically inter-school teacher interaction. I contend that deliberative inter-school relations must confirm the value of "interactionism", whereby under-performing and high-performing schools can learn about each another and from each other, thus improving possibilities for teacher engagement and the establishment of inter-school collaboration in some rural areas. I argue that interactionism invokes the idea of deliberation, whereby teachers do not have to function in isolation from one another but rather as deliberators within a set of inter-school relationships with others. The idea of deliberation brings into question mere acceptance of a lack of serious engagement among teachers at under-performing (historically disadvantaged schools) and high-performing schools (historically advantaged schools).


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