What you need to know about CAPS - Part 1

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Q: What is ‘CAPS’?

A: CAPS stands for Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements. It is a revision of the current National Curriculum Statement (NCS). With the introduction of CAPS, every subject in each grade will have a single, comprehensive and concise policy document that will provide details on what teachers need to teach and assess on a grade-by-grade and subject-by-subject basis. This curriculum review has the aim of lessening the administrative load on teachers, and ensuring that there is clear guidance and consistency for teachers when teaching.


Q: What are the major changes associated with CAPS?

A: As mentioned, CAPS gives more detailed guidance with regards to what teachers need to teach and how they should assess. With CAPS each teacher in every subject should know what to teach, when to teach it, and how to do assessment. The terminology Learning Outcomes and Assessment Standards has gone and will be replaced with “Content” and “Skills”. At the Foundation Phase (Grades R, 1, 2 & 3) Numeracy will now be called Mathematics and Literacy will now be called Language. At Grade 10, content has been reorganized for several of the subjects and the exam structure has changed in some of the subjects.


Q: You mentioned the Foundation Phase and Grade 10. Are these the only Grades that are affected by CAPS?

A: All grades will be affected by CAPS but specific mention has been made to Grades 1, 2, 3 & 10 because these are the first Grades that will implement the new CAPS. The National Department of Basic Education (DBE) has decided to implement CAPS in a phased approach over a three year period.


Q: What are the implementation timeframes?

A: The first implementation will be in 2012 with Grades 1, 2, 3 & 10 being affected. Thereafter Grades 4 to 6 and 11 will implement the CAPS in 2013 and Grades 7 -9 and Grade 12 will implement the CAPS in 2014.


Q: What resources will I need to implement the CAPS?

A: The fundamental resources required to assist you in teaching in accordance to the CAPS will be a Learner’s Book for each of your learners and a Teacher’s Guide for you as the teacher. The CAPS document for your Grade and Subject will also outline any other resources you need to teach the specific content.


Q: Does this mean that I need brand new textbooks for CAPS?

A: Yes it does. Because there have been some content and terminology changes, and because CAPS give week by week planning for teachers to follow, it means you will need NEW textbooks that are organized according to the teaching plan, and that are completely aligned to the CAPS.


Q: So where can I find a copy of the new CAPS textbooks to review?

A: Maskew Miller Longman is one of the companies that has committed to developing textbooks for the new CAPS. The books have been written and are subject to a screening and approval process, which is administered by the DBE. As from August 2011, a catalogue of approved books will be circulated to schools, which will highlight the books that have been approved, and that can be prescribed by teachers. It is during this period (August/September) that Maskew Miller Longman will visit schools and hand out sample copies of its approved Learner’s Books and Teacher’s Guides for teachers to review.


Q: You said Maskew Miller Longman was ‘one’ of the companies that was developing new CAPS textbooks. How many other companies are there?

A: In essence you will have eight (8) books to choose from for your Subject and Grade. Historically there have been a large number of companies who have all developed textbooks for South African schools, and teachers expressed that this has caused a lot of confusion. In order to simplify matters for teachers the DBE has stated that only the ‘best’ eight books will appear on their catalogue and that teachers will only be able to choose one of these eight approved textbooks to be the prescribed.


Q: If there are eight books to choose from, how will I know which textbook is the ‘right’ textbook for my class?

A: This will be a matter of reviewing the sample textbooks given to you in detail and making a personal choice. However there are a number of factors that you should be looking for, such as:

  • Does the book cover all the content in the curriculum effectively?
  • Is there a wide variety and good volume of assessments in the book?
  • Is the book written at the appropriate level of the learner?
  • Are the examples used to explain the content relevant to South African learners?
  • Are there enough activities or exercises in the book for learners to practice what they have just been taught?
  • Is there teacher support material available?
  • Are there any free ‘value added’ components offered with the book?
  • Does the publisher offer any other support services to help teachers?

Click here for Part 2

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