Gabrielle Wills

Researcher

Gabrielle Wills is an education economist and researcher with Research on Socio-Economic Policy,  in the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She graduated in 2016 with her PhD in Economics, with a dissertation focused on school leadership and teacher union effects on learning outcomes. Dr Wills has been involved in various research projects and capacity development initiatives for local and international organisations, including the South African Presidency, the South African Department of Basic Education, the Ministry of Education in Namibia, UNICEF and local philanthropy organisations. She was also involved in the monitoring and evaluation at baseline of the DFID funded EQUIP-Tanzania project. Locally she co-authored the “Binding Constraints in Education” project for the South African Presidency and the European Union. Over the past 2 years, she has been a lead researcher on an ESRC/DFID funded project to identify outlier no-fee schools in South Africa while exploring factors associated with academic resilience in challenging contexts. Dr Wills’ current areas of research interest include education systems reform, school leadership and management, teacher union effects and the links between cognitive and socio-emotional skills. She regularly speaks in civil society forums on the state of education service delivery in South Africa. She is also the founder of a volunteer non-profit organisation called Micah6 which facilitates access to improved educational opportunities for vulnerable youth and young adults in Durban, South Africa.

 

SUMMARY REPORT: Benchmarking early grade reading skills in Nguni languages

This is a summary report that presents the key findings and approach used in identifying early grade reading benchmarks and thresholds in three Nguni languages:…
November 5, 2020 By: Gabrielle Wills, Nangamso Mtsatse, Nicola Deghaye, Nompumelelo Mohohlwane, Servaas van der Berg, Cally Ardington, Elizabeth Pretorius, Alicia Menendez PDF

TECHNICAL REPORT: Benchmarking early grade reading skills in Nguni languages

This report presents the key findings and approach used in identifying early grade reading benchmarks and thresholds in three Nguni languages: isiZulu, isiXhosa and siSwati. 
November 5, 2020 By: Gabrielle Wills, Nangamso Mtsatse, Nicola Deghaye, Nompumelelo Mohohlwane, Servaas van der Berg, Cally Ardington, Elizabeth Pretorius, Alicia Menendez PDF

Household resource flows and food poverty during South Africa’s lockdown: Short-term policy implications for three channels of social protection.

A report stemming from NIDS-CRAM wave 1, a project consisting of work by a national consortium of 30 social science researchers from five South African…
October 5, 2020 By: Gabrielle Wills, Servaas van der Berg, Leila Patel, Bokang Mpeta PDF

Measuring School Leadership and Management and Linkages with Literacy: Evidence from Rural and Township Primary Schools in South Africa

Wills, G. and van der Berg, S., 2020. Measuring school leadership and management and linkages with literacy: Evidence from rural and township primary schools in…

School leadership and management: Identifying linkages with learning and structural inequalities

Wills, G., 2019. School leadership and management: Identifying linkages with learning and structural inequalities. In South African Schooling: The Enigma of Inequality (pp. 301-320). Springer, Cham.
November 25, 2019 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Addressing the ‘leadership conundrum through a mixed methods study of school leadership for literacy

Taylor, N., Wills, G. and Hoadley, U., 2019. Addressing the ‘leadership conundrum ’through a mixed methods study of school leadership for literacy. Research in Comparative and…
November 15, 2019 By: Gabrielle Wills, Nick Taylor, Ursula Hoadly PDF

Teachers’ unions and industrial action in South African primary schools: Exploring their impacts on learning

Abstract: This paper investigates a disruption hypothesis that student learning is lost as a direct consequence of teacher strike action in South Africa. At face…
November 15, 2019 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Academic resilience in challenging contexts: Evidence from township and rural primary schools in South Africa

Wills, G. and Hofmeyr, H., 2019. Academic resilience in challenging contexts: Evidence from township and rural primary schools in South Africa. International Journal of Educational Research, 98,…
October 9, 2019 By: Gabrielle Wills, Heleen Hofmeyr PDF

Measuring leadership and management and their linkages with literacy in rural and township primary schools in South Africa

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP21/2018
This paper describes a rigorous process to develop and trial new metrics for measuring and codifying school leadership and management practices and processes that are…

Addressing the ‘leadership conundrum’ through a mixed methods study of school leadership for literacy

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No.WP02/2018
This paper explores methodological insights from a mixed methods study that aims to understand how school leaders promote literacy development in their schools.
December 2, 2018 By: Gabrielle Wills, Nick Taylor, Ursula Hoadley PDF

Academic Resilience in Challenging Contexts: Evidence From Township and Rural Primary Schools in South Africa

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No.WP18/2018
Poverty is considered a risk factor that jeopardizes children’s academic performance. However, even in high-poverty contexts there are students who manage to achieve consistently good…
November 23, 2018 By: Gabrielle Wills, Heleen Hofmeyr PDF

Explaining the Western Cape performance paradox: An econometric analysis

Wills, G., Shepherd, D., and Kotze, J. (2018). Explaining the Western Cape performance paradox: An econometric analysis, in The Politics and Governance of Basic Education: A…
November 8, 2018 By: Debra Shepherd, Gabrielle Wills, Janeli Kotzé PDF

Exploring how school leaders promote literacy improvements

Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 06/2018
The performance of South African learners in reading comprehension is extremely poor. The Progress in International Literacy and Reading Study (2016) highlighted that by the…
September 4, 2018 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Structural inequalities in school leadership and management across South African schools

Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 04/2018
In the National Development Plan strengthening the quality of school leadership and management was identified as a priority to support improvements in South African basic…
September 4, 2018 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

The possibility of improvements despite a lack of existing high-quality no-fee primary schools

Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 03/2018
The low quality of South African schooling has been widely confirmed through international tests of mathematics and literacy. The 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy…
September 4, 2018 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Academic resilience in challenging school contexts in South Africa

Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 01/2018
Poverty is considered a risk factor that jeopardizes children’s academic performance. Yet even in high poverty contexts there are students who manage to achieve consistently…
September 4, 2018 By: Gabrielle Wills, Heleen Hofmeyr PDF

What do you mean by ‘good’? The search for exceptional primary schools in South Africa’s no-fee school system

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP16/2017
Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP16/2017 Publication date: December 2017 Abstract: This paper describes a rigorous data collection process to find and verify the quality…
July 16, 2018 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Principal leadership changes in South Africa: Investigating their consequences for school performance

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP01/2016
Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP01/2016 Abstract: A rising number of school leadership changes have been occurring in South African schools as a large proportion…
July 4, 2018 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Interrogating a Paradox of Performance in the WCED: A Provincial and Regional Comparison of Student Learning

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP14/2016
Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP14/2016 Abstract: The Western Cape, one of South Africa’s better performing provinces in terms of educational outcomes, has a relatively…
July 4, 2018 By: Debra Shepherd, Gabrielle Wills, Janeli Kotzé PDF

Identifying Binding Constraints in Education

Synthesis Report for the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD) This research report provides an overview of a large research project undertaken by a…

The Effects of Teacher Strike Activity on Student Learning in South African Primary Schools

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP01/2014
Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP01/2014 Publication date: 2014 Abstract: This paper investigates whether teacher strikes affect student achievement at the primary school level in…
October 16, 2017 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

A profile of the labour market for school principals in South Africa: Evidence to inform policy

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP12.2015
Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP12.2015 Publication date: 2015 Abstract: In the past decade there has been a notable shift in South African education policy…
October 16, 2017 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Limited support for the foundation phase: A misallocation of district resources

Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 07/2016
Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 07/2016 Abstract: To realise improvements in the South African education system and overcome substantial inequalities in learning that exist, prioritisation must…
October 16, 2017 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Improving the calibre of school leadership in South Africa

Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 01/2015
Stellenbosch Policy Brief No. 01/2015 Abstract: School principals matter for children’s learning – both anecdotal and international quantitative evidence support this. But policy makers often…
October 16, 2017 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Principal leadership changes and their consequences for school performance in South Africa

Abstract: School leadership changes are gaining momentum in South Africa as larger proportions of incumbent principals near retirement age. While this presents opportunities to replace…
November 15, 2016 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

An economic perspective on school leadership and teachers’ unions in South Africa

Thesis (PhD)—Stellenbosch University, 2016.
  PhD Thesis  Candidate: Gabrielle Wills Supervisor: Professor Servaas van der Berg Institution: Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Department of Economics   Abstract: This dissertation…

Principal leadership changes in South Africa: Investigating their consequences for school performance

  Abstract School leadership changes are gaining momentum in South Africa as larger proportions of incumbent principals near retirement age. While this presents opportunities to…
May 2, 2016 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF

Informing principal policy reforms in South Africa through data-based evidence

Abstract In the past decade there has been a notable shift in South African education policy that raises the value of school leadership as a…
May 10, 2015 By: Gabrielle Wills PDF