Investigating the development of the learning environment at a disadvantaged primary school in the Western Cape through a participatory action research process
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South Africa (SA) is a developing country struggling to address transformation and various institutional reforms inherited from a previous apartheid regime and also created by the current democratic government. Education is an area which is struggling within a SA context. Many schools, particularly in disadvantaged communities, are faced with inadequate infrastructure and a lack of resources yet the expectation is for these schools to show evidence of effectiveness irrespective of these challenges. In this study, the development of the learning environment at a disadvantaged primary school in the Western Cape, South Africa, was investigated through a participatory action research process. The study was underpinned by the Epstein (2001) participation model, the socio-ecological model of Bronfenbrenner (2005) and Vygotsky's theory of social constructivism (1979). The literature aimed to generate an understanding of theories of school effectiveness and how optimal school learning environments are integral to facilitating school effectiveness. The elements of school effectiveness were explored namely leadership, management, educators - parent partnerships and school learning environments which are expected to function within a unique SA context, yet the support and resources for facilitating the development of these elements are inadequate. The development of the learning environment through a participatory action research design that emphasizes transformation and effects change which facilitates school effectiveness at a disadvantaged primary school was investigated.