South Africa has experienced significant curriculum transformation over the past ten years. Environment was introduced into C2005 as a phase organiser. Following the streamlining and strengthening of the curriculum, the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) has a more explicit environmental focus in all of the Learning Areas. This has created opportunities for teachers to address environmental health issues in a community context. I work in a rural school and the community around the school experience a number of environmental health issues. In my previous observations I noticed that teachers were not using Learning Teaching Support Materials (LTSM) effectively. In this study I wanted to investigate how LTSM can be used to address environmental health issues in the Foundation Phase. As Life Orientation Learning
Outcome1 is a ‘backbone’ of the Life Skills Learning Programme in the Foundation Phase, I decided to focus on this Learning Outcome as it is the Health Promotion outcome in the NCS (R-9).
It was my interest to investigate how LTSM are used in team planning and how this planning influences the use of LTSM in classrooms. In the research I observed the link between the activities and LTSM that were discussed in the planning session and those that were done in the classroom. To do this I documented the planning workshop, and I also observed three lessons undertaken in two classrooms, a grade 2 and a grade 3 classroom in my school, where I serve as a principal. I conducted this research as an interpretive case study, and I used workshop, interviews, focus group interviews and classroom observation as methods in the study.
The study found that LTSM used in planning influences activities done in the classroom. It also found that use of LTSM helps to achieve the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Standards, and to improve the participation of learners in the learning process. Use of LTSM in planning also improves teachers’ Learning Area knowledge and their knowledge of curriculum development issues. Planning sessions also assisted teachers to address problems such as language used in LTSM and availability of LTSM. The study also found that teachers did not address formal assessment in the planning or in the way they used LTSM. The study concluded that use of LTSM in planning can strengthen classroom practice, and recommendations were made to take this work forward in the context of our school, as it addresses the gap between policy and practice.
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