Every year, a team of volunteers from Friends of Ibba Girls' School (FIGS) and Ibba Girls' Boarding School staff conduct a developmental review of the School. FIGS trustee Professor Jean Hartley has led the review team every year and reflects below on the findings this year.
Yoane Kumbonyaki, the Director of Studies (Primary) at Ibba Girls’ Boarding School, joined the annual developmental review team this year, working with Caroline Holland, a teacher-trainer, and me. We worked intensively for a week in November to get a wide-ranging view of the school, of what is working well and what people felt could be improved over time.
This joint approach to review means that the school and FIGS benefit from a team which includes an ‘insider’ – someone on the ground, who knows the school really well, and ‘outsiders’ – who can ask different questions and who can bring knowledge from other countries. The review feeds into the school development plan and provides valuable information about the use and impact of donor funds, with suggestions for future funding needs.
This was the fifth such review since the school started in 2014. The first review focused on the school start-up with 40 girls and a handful of staff. This time, the team talked to 9 teachers, 24 support staff, 18 girls across the six classes of the school, 4 parents and 4 community/government leaders. Caroline worked with the primary and secondary directors of study to observe and give feedback on lessons, and we also gave a short questionnaire to all girls in the school. It was hard work, but very fulfilling and very inspiring to talk to people at or concerned with the school.
The achievements this year have been considerable. The school has made a smooth transition to the new head teacher, Vicky Ajidiru Dratia, and five new teachers have joined the school and have integrated well into the school community (though one is leaving after a year to study full-time in Uganda). The new teachers mainly teach in the secondary stream, though some teach primary classes as well. In addition, the head teacher has simplified food purchasing and also reorganised the work of some support staff, which they now find much better.
A further achievement is the secondary school start-up. There are 31 girls in S1, with their own dormitory – and with textbooks!
The secondary girls are growing in confidence and are becoming more questioning of various aspects of the school – as might be expected with adolescents! (The survey can track changes over time and we also saw this shift in the analysis of those who were P8 last year.) This assertiveness is a foretaste of the challenge for the school in the coming years – how to teach and look after young women as well as the younger girls.
The campus is green and well cared for. There is a happy atmosphere among students, with lots of spontaneous singing and dancing, and there is a genuine thirst for learning. While we were there, P8 sat the National Primary Leaving Exam so we wished them well and we all await the final results (and to see how they compare with last year’s stunning results).
What about areas for improvement? A key issue is the repair and maintenance of some buildings. Some have had six years of heavy use now and the footfall from 220 students and over 30 staff on a daily basis is taking its toll. There is not currently a site manager or caretaker, and it’s clear now that the school has reached a scale where this would be sensible. This also provides an opportunity to upskill support staff.
As the review tracks changes over time, we are delighted to report that there is considerable further improvement since last year.
Professor Jean Hartley, FIGS trustee