Securing the fort: Capturing reading pedagogy in the Foundation Phase

Keywords: Literacy, Reading Teaching, Pedagogy, Foundation Phase, Intermediate Phase, PCK


The focus of this paper is on an instrument known as the Facilitative Orientation to Reading Teaching, or FORT, that was designed to capture how teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) can influence literacy acquisition at Foundation Phase level.  The FORT can capture the ‘what’ and ‘how often’ of classroom practice and, when combined with qualitative data, it can provide the ‘why’ and also ascertain whether what teachers say they do when they teach is in accordance with their actual classroom practice.  The effectiveness of the instrument will be explained via specific findings from a multiple-case study undertaken with Grade 3 and 4 learners between 2015 and 2017 at two schools in the Midlands area of KwaZulu-Natal.  The study involved a total of eight teachers and their classes, while the researchers recorded a total of 34 lessons, most of which were taught in English and some in isiZulu, with class sizes ranging between 35 and 45 learners. Findings indicate that additional training alone may be insufficient to change embedded top-down and teacher-led teaching styles and that teachers may benefit more from on-going support and mentoring such as coaching.

Author Biographies

Kellie Steinke, North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Dr Kellie Steinke has a background in Applied Language Studies and is a lecturer in Academic Literacy at the University of Mpumalanga (e-mail:
Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty, Prof Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty ETDP-SETA Research Chair Early Childhood Development North West University Faculty of Education Sciences North West University 11 Hoffman Street Potchefstroom 2531
Professor Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty is a Professor in the School of Human & Social Sciences in Education at North West University and Profesor Emeritus at the University of KwaZulu Natal (e-mail: