Managing performance can be tricky in early childhood centres. After a year of working with our 5 schools in Mfuleni, our principals asked the question: “How do we motivate our staff to perform better?” They found that their teachers felt as though they weren’t making progress even though they were.

We brainstormed ideas and we identified a couple of challenges. To provide monetary incentives was difficult for many reasons, not least the fact that we are a non-profit and every cent has to be fund raised. Furthermore we needed to encourage staff to work as a team to help to improve performance across the board. We needed to find a way to reward improved change and build self-esteem


Teachers “shopping” – exchanging their performance vouchers

After testing various models we came up with a token-based scheme whereby teachers working hard in their classrooms and supporting one another collect tokens for good performance. At the end of the month all the tokens are added up and they can be used to go “shopping”. Active participation in the programme together with an openness to share ideas and work as a team player are all recognised each month as part of this programme. Schools can convert the tokens they collect into essential classroom equipment and supplies – many of these are provided by the teachers and children in schools around Cape Town who support Starting Chance.

The Starting Chance “shop” operates from the Starting Chance Resource Centre and has become an asset that is highly valued by principals and teachers. Café Together once a month allows this busy community of practice to catch up with one another. Different teachers are specially invited each month to come along to share best practices and lessons learned with their colleagues.

It is the highlight of the month – it is such fun to see teachers arriving with big smiles, shopping lists and bags. It encourages healthy competition, builds team spirit and most importantly has helped to improve the standard of teaching across all our schools.

“The shop has helped my teachers to work together to earn more vouchers. There is much better performance in the classroom.” Philiswa, principal of Blooming Stars.

“When our teachers share best practice ideas at the “Café Together” and go shopping, they really feel good about themselves.” Noms, Starting Chance field worker.