Post 1994 policies failed to positively influence teaching and learning in most South African
schools. The poor performance of learners from township schools in national and international
tests prompted the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to take proactive steps to address
the issue of chronic learner underperformance in literacy. Hence the Gauteng Primary Schools‟
Literacy and Mathematics Strategy was developed and introduced to 792 underperforming
schools in the province. Teachers were then orientated and trained to teach literacy according
to the requirements of the strategy (GPLMS). The GPLMS entailed providing teachers with
continuous guidance and support from coaches. Schools received access to structured lesson
plans, learning materials, regular support, Department of Basic Education workshops and a
This study set out to investigate how Grade 3 teachers in three selected underperforming
schools understood and experienced the Gauteng Primary Schools Literacy and Mathematics
Strategy (GPLMS). The sub-questions that guided the study were:
What are the policy, curriculum requirements and components of GPLMS?
How are the perceptions and experiences of teachers in underperforming schools
influenced by the implementation of literacy according to the requirements of GPLMS?
What is the relationship between policy, curriculum provision and educational practices
The investigation followed a qualitative case study research approach. The Concerns Based
Adoption Model guided the investigation on how teachers understand and experience GPLMS.
Data were collected through individual interviews, observation of literacy lessons and the
Professional Learning Group (PLG) sessions. The results revealed that teachers were interested
in the strategy from the onset. Teachers showed commitment, dedication and enthusiasm by
actively participating in the well- planned in-service training including the PLG sessions. A
close relationship was forged between teachers and coaches. The guidance and support by
coaches and regular supply of resources enabled teachers and learners to benefit from the
strategy. The teachers acquired knowledge and skills from in-service training and applied the
new knowledge effectively in the classroom.
The competent use of GPLMS resources to teach literacy effectively improved teachers‟
attitudes, professional identity as well as learner performance in the Annual National
Assessment (ANA). The study concluded with recommendations promoting included the
incorporation of coaches by the Department of Basic Education in order to provide teachers
with valuable support, guidance and insight into the teaching of literacy.