Educational Support Centre
The St Dunstan’s College Educational Support Centre was established in 2007 in order to respond to a critical need in South African schooling identified in Dr Steve Whitelaw’s University of Johannesburg doctoral thesis.
In this thesis, Steve brought attention to the fact that up to 50% of newly-qualified teachers had left the profession within five years of having graduated. Given the shortage of candidates currently applying to become teachers, this attrition rate is of national concern. One important reason established for the decision of so many young teachers to abandon the profession was a lack of effective school-based induction of new teachers. This failure left many new teachers feeling incompetent in fulfilling the many professional challenges that are only encountered upon the assumption of a full-time teaching position.
In order to respond to this need the centre offers a 12 week programme that is focused on offering advice on issues that new teachers commonly find problematic. Teachers attend the course once a week for approximately two hours after school hours. In addition to the benefits of the course content, teachers benefit from meeting their peers and realising that the difficulties they are experiencing are not unique to themselves, but in fact are generally faced by new teachers. More experienced teachers are also welcome to participate in the course and the insights that they have gained through their careers are often valuable ‘tips’ for their young colleagues.
Access to the course is open to any practicing teacher regardless of their qualification status, and no fees are payable for admission. This ensures that teachers from schools in more deprived socio-economic areas are not excluded. Over the last seven years, over 400 local teachers have successfully completed the programme.