Wynberg Boys High School Impact Study


The Greater Impact

“We could not trust what the learners had taken out of their experience of primary school. We went through last year’s results and realised there were deficiencies, especially in foundational parts of Maths. We realised there were major foundational issues. We decided that it was critical to put some sort of infrastructure in place that we could find and correct errors that were there. This is the source of the need for the Ignite programme.”
– Ben Wiley, Head of Maths, Wynberg Boys High

Positive Results at Wynberg Boys’ High School

After using Reflective Learning for a year with 100 of their weaker Grade 8s and 9s and seeing positive results, Wynberg Boys High decided to use it with all of their Grade 8s. However, they wanted to trial a new approach that intensively focused on catching up the backlogs. When looking at assessment data for incoming Grade 8s, it is clear that there was severe inequality backing up this statement. For example, not only were the 2022 Wynberg Boys Grade 8s an average of 1.5 years behind, the high level of variability is evident also.

Grade-Level competency for Fractions at Wynberg Boys' High School

The belief was that by intensively catching up the gaps, the cohort could re-engage with the curriculum at a more homogenous level which would be easier to teach. Teachers should then be able to move through the curriculum quicker to regain the time “lost” according to the required curriculum coverage.

For the first two terms of 2022, they introduced their Ignite programme, which paused the normal teaching of Maths for Grade 8s to focus on catching up the gaps. Students had the opportunity to work on Reflective Learning every school day, while additional time was spent on activities that stimulated critical thinking and enjoyment in Maths. It took brave leadership toward both teachers and parents to make what may be seen as a radical shift in teaching and learning, but the results were tremendous.

Below is a graph showing the proportion of Grade 8 students at the required level of competency, pre- and post-intervention. For example, only 19% of this cohort were at the required level for Fractions (as shown by the graph above), but by the end of the bootcamp, this had increased to 73% (a 54% increase)

This trend continued across all topics of Maths except for Patterns & Algebra which was specifically decided not to be focused on until later. The graph for Fractions below showing baseline (yellow) and endline (green) of students underlines both the improvement regardless of baseline starting point, as well as the reduced inequality of students.

As a benchmark, we would expect students to increase their understanding by 1 grade-level of knowledge over the course of a school year (or 0.5 grade-levels over six months). In this cohort, we find that 47% of students improved their understanding by 1 grade or more over the six month intervention (i.e two-times or more the expected rate of learning), with 14% of the students improving by 4 times the normal rate of learning.

Given that the teaching plan changed dramatically, it is not possible to verify the impact through normal school marks as they would not be comparable. However, for many years Wynberg Boys have run their own internal benchmarking assessment when Grade 8 students enter the school. After the intervention, they re-ran the assessment to examine the difference and reported an improvement of 10-15% in student marks.

Wynberg Boys’ Head of Maths described the impact they saw:


Also, by improving the base of students, Wynberg has found that their group of higher-end students(their ‘enrichment group’) has increased from an average of 20 students to 40 students partaking into the latter part of the year. So, have the teachers been able to continue through the curriculum at an advanced pace to catch up the coverage of curriculum?


By avoiding having to go back to remediate students and by working with other subjects to streamline overlapping concepts, the group has progressed far quicker than previous years. Based on the success from this year, Wynberg Boys plans to repeat the programme in an even more intensive manner, shortening the process to four months.

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