A Building Block Of Future Learning

On 10 May, the Sparrow Foundation School will launch its Natural Science and Technology Centre sponsored by General Electric and Provanage Media Group. In the last 12 months, the school successfully established the Remedial Learning Centre (RLC). This is a long-term infrastructure upgrade that is aimed at creating a hub of remedial instruction within the school. The completed RLC will comprise of three building blocks, two which have already been completed. These are the Literacy Enrichment Centre and The Maths Enrichment Centre. The Science and Technolgy Centre is the last step in completing the RCL.

The Maths Enrichment (ME) Centre
The Maths Enrichment (ME) Centre

The effective teaching of basic concepts relating to science and technology lies central to the learner’s understanding and interaction with the world around him/her. A healthy grasp of concepts related to science and technology can substantially improve the learner’s competency in processing and acquiring new concepts in other subjects.  Outside the classroom, it equips the child with confidence and ability to interact with the world in a productive manner.

As a school focussed on providing progressive, holistic, remedial and special needs education, every learning space the learner encounters must be designed to address the learner’s individual learning style and maximise that learner’s potential to learn and acquire new skills.

The Literacy Enrichment Centre
The Literacy Enrichment Centre

The Foundation School is a primary school offering LSEN and remedial educational environment to learners with special educational needs. The school prioritises learners who come from disadvantaged areas and circumstances. Typically, learners who fall in this category have extremely limited access to quality education. The needs of learners with learning difficulties are largely unaddressed in these areas.

By focussing on these learners, they are provided an opportunity to develop, learn and grow in an educational environment that understand the needs of such learner, while also endeavouring to continually develop and upgrade the learning environment.

In the last 12 months, the school successfully established the Remedial Learning Centre (RLC). This is a long-term infrastructure upgrade that is aimed at creating a hub of remedial instruction within the school. The completed RLC will comprise of three building blocks, two which have already been completed. These are the Literacy Enrichment Centre and The Maths Enrichment Centre. The Science and Technolgy Centre is the last step in completing the RCL.

Words by Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Academic Manager at the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.

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Canze rises above terrible accident

In June 2013, Diyoko Canze (32) was involved in a terrible motor vehicle accident, leaving him critically injured. He was hospitalised at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and had to undergo therapy. Canze is a father to a five-year-old son and prior to the accident, he was planning on marrying the mother of his child.

Prior to the accident, he was in a stable job and also holds an IT certificate from Torque IT. His life took a completely different, the accident resulted in speech deficits and noticeable physical defects. He was referred to the Sparrow FET College by his therapist and was enrolled into the End User Computing programme in November 2015.

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After joining the FET College, Canze was referred to the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust’s Occupational Therapist (OT). This was after it was found that Canze had trouble writing as a result of the injuries incurred following the accident.  After undergoing assessment, the OT found that it was best for Canze to make use of typing on a computer within exam periods to enable timeous completion, as well as confidence in his own abilities and overall performance.

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Since joining the programme and consulting with the OT, Canze’s speech and writing abilities have improved tremendously. This was thanks to the keyboard and handwriting aid that were provided specially to accommodate his disability. “His progress has really been phenomenal. He’s passionate, he knows why he is here and his heart is fully into it,” says the End User Computing Facilitator, Steven Banda.

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FCA Group donates parts to the Sparrow FET College

On 03 March 2016, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group donated brand new and unsold parts to the Automotive Repair & Maintenance class at the Sparrow FET College in Sophiatown, Johannesburg. The parts are estimated to be at the value of more than Two million rands.  These included mechanical and electrical Fiat, Chrysler and Jeep car parts, such as exhausts manifolds, fuel pump modules, brake discs, gear kits, and much more.

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“In 2015, we’ve looked at supplying these parts to schools that really need them as a way of giving back to the community. We are happy to have found Sparrow and we hope these will be of great benefit to the students,” says Richard Slowman, Accessories Manager for the FCA Group.

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The parts will go a long way to ensuring that the Sparrow FET College continues to provide quality education and training. “We thank the FCA Group for the donation, it is definitely going to be helpful. I’m sure that our students are going to reap the maximum benefits,” says the Sparrow FET College’s Operations Manager, Melanie Malema.

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The College has always thrived on the support of key industry partners such as the FCA Group. “We look forward to a long-standing relationship with the FCA Group,” adds Malema.  Through educating and training the youth the College is developing their capabilities for a better life. In order to realize this vision fully, the College needs help in different areas.

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The success of the vision relies on partnerships and collaboration with various institutions and organisations willing to provide funding or donations of any form. The Sparrow FET College is seeking to build partnerships with industry or corporates to improve the education and training of disempowered youth in South Africa with an objective of contributing to the larger objective of uplifting the country’s economy and the wellbeing of those marginalised in our society.

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Quality education – A fundamental right

The South African Constitution states in the Bill of Rights that every child has the right to an education. This means that no child should be excluded from receiving an education, regardless of their mental and physical abilities.  School is not only a place for intellectual development but also for social, emotional, physical, and creative development. A school should provide a safe nurturing environment where children have the freedom to explore their world and fulfil their potential. Children all have something in common; they all want to feel loved, accepted and appreciated, the school environment should be a place where children can receive this.

South Africa is a country that celebrates diversity and this diversity is very evident in our classrooms today. No two children are the same and teachers have to be adaptable and flexible to teach to the different levels of the children in the classroom. However in the mainstream environment this is not always possible if the gap between the learner’s abilities is too large and if there is not enough support within the school.  Inclusive education aims towards one system for all, where children of all abilities both mental and physical are educated together. There is a shift in our education system towards inclusion and many mainstream schools have implemented it successfully but it will be a long road before all schools are fully inclusive. Many teachers and parents are debating the pros and cons of an inclusive school verse separate schools that cater for different learners.

Children are naturally curious and they do want to learn, they do however learn differently and at different speeds. A remedial school is great option for children with learning challenges where they are able to learn at their own pace, and receive more individualised attention and support. Many remedial schools offer in-school therapy and support services to their learners, which is a huge help to parents who may not be able to afford or have access to therapy services for their child. Some schools also focus on more skills-based programs which equip the children with more vocational based practical skills. When deciding on a school for your child it is important to find a good fit where their strengths and talents can be built on and developed.

Keeping in mind that education is a fundamental right for all children, it is the responsibility of schools to have child-centred approaches in developing programs that will ensure good quality education for all.

Words by Samantha Bolton, a Remedial Therapist for the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust.

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Opening of multi-purpose court

It is with great pleasure that we announce the opening of the much anticipated Multi-purpose Sports court at the Sparrow Combined School. This would not have been possible without the generous contribution of Haberdasher’s Aske Boys School in the United Kingdom.

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Previously, netball was played on the soccer field with portable netball poles or on the basketball court which was not conducive in developing the skills of this sport. There has been high interest in netball and tennis at the school, so we hope to develop teams for both sports and enter competitions.

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The Combined School’s netball team facing off against the staff.

We will now be able to host home games and tournaments at the school, which will promote team unity and pride within the sporting codes. The improved facilities will also assist with improving the level of participation and the introduction of tennis at the school will promote our long-term goal of increasing exposure of different sporting domains to Sparrow learners.

Sparrow Staff facing off against the Combined School's netball team
Sparrow Staff facing off against the Combined School’s netball team

The multi-purpose court will not only enable the school to provide netball and tennis as formalised sports to the learners, we also hope to provide the wider community with facilities to participate in sporting programmes. Netball is considered one of the most popular women’s sports in South Africa and tennis is a popular activity for both men and women in South Africa.

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The Multipurpose court is invaluable to the school in achieving our goal of exposing sparrow learners to a variety of sporting activities and to ensure that they are given opportunities to develop their sporting skills.

We would like to thank the people in England from Haberdasher’s, who were responsible for raising the money so that our learner’ lives can be changed for the better.  Jackie Gallagher, Sparrow Schools Educational Trust General Manager.

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Consumer Studies pupils visit Agterplaas B&B

The Combined School’s Bridging Year Creative Textiles and Consumer Studies class recently visited Agterplaas guesthouse in Melville. After weeks of learning about the hospitality industry from books, the glossy magazine pictures in the classroom finally came to life.

Consumer studies outing

The General manager Santie, took the group on a guided tour of the establishment. She explained all aspects of the business, from having to be a people’s person to being meticulous in ensuring that everything is clean and in working order.

The first leg of the tour was of the homely kitchen where chef Badia prepares the famous Agterplaas breakfasts. All the baking is done daily on the premises.

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Next the pupils got to see the inside of the perfect rooms. They were shown the wheelchair-friendly room and how safety deposit boxes work. Management has to be prepared for an array of guests’ needs and try to think of everything. From candles, solar lamps and gas in the event of power failures to keeping garden furniture freshly painted, the establishment is run like a super machine.

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They also had a glimpse of the administrative side of the business. Suddenly the section of Consumer Studies that many found boring made sense and seemed much less complicated.

The tour was a magical glimpse into both what guests experience as well as the machine that keeps it running smoothly. Learners took selfies against the gorgeous view of the Melville Koppies and were amazed by the beautiful garden.

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To end the tour of Agterplaas, the class was treated to very special Belgian honey waffles, specially prepared for the group by chef Marc. They sat in the dining room like grown-up guests, absorbing the cosy atmosphere while enjoying our delicious treats.

“It’s the small things that make a difference. From gorgeous smells of coffee and crisp linen to jars of fresh flowers and honey coloured wood, the ambience left us feeling excited about our journey in school and life,” says Consumer Studies teacher, Jana O’Grady.

She continues, “We are grateful for the experience granted by the wonderful people in our community who respect and treat our children as the future of our beautiful country. Thank you very much to Rita, Jannie, Santie, Badia, Loet, Marc, John, Walter and everyone else who made this outing possible.”

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Taking chess a step further

For the longest time, society has viewed the ability to play chess as a measure of intellectual ability and high IQ. Evidence of that has been rather sparse. Although our learners at the Sparrow Combined School face various learning challenges, we have introduced a chess club and are now taking it a step further. The Combined School caters for grades 8, 9 and also offers an Adaptive Skills Program. The program aims to design a suitable environment for learners with learning difficulties.

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The school has introduced the pupils to online chess. The purpose of this class is to allow pupils to build on their mathematical capacity; it promotes strategic thinking, which in turn helps them in their daily activities of making decisions. This includes developing their concentration, planning and analysis skills.

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“Having a chess club is a fun way to practice essential decision-making skills. Children at our school face various learning barriers and chess is a great tool to enhance their learning experience. The chess club aims to unite learners through this intellectual art,” explains Sparrow Combined School teacher, Noval Peterson.

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Since the establishment of the chess club, the change has been evident in the attitudes of the learners; they are more positive and have shown confidence in their ability to overcome challenges. In addition, they have been introduced to an international platform where they challenge chess players from across the globe.

If you would like to challenge our students to a game of chess, contact Noval Peterson on 011 673 3558.

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DISCUSSING ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLING ON CLIFF CENTRAL

As children across South Africa prepared to go back to School in January, there were plenty of other children who were and still are frustrated by school. If your child is not geared for mainstream, what are your options? Do we, parents and students alike, just have to grin and bear the pain of grade 1 to 12? CliffCentral.com talks to parents who’ve found systems that are working for their kids and is also joined by Sparrow Schools’ Academic Manager, Jacques van Rensburg.

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Professional Cookery student opens restaurant

We are all taught to go to school so that we can get a good job and that way, we will be successful. Granted that way of doing things has proved to work for many, but not for all of us. Unemployment in South Africa stands at 25.5% and many of those are young people. Many young South Africans find themselves in a difficult position where they are qualified but remain unemployed or get stuck in jobs that they hate.

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Then there are those who choose to challenge the status quo and take it upon themselves to define their own destinies. Despite having an opportunity to get a full-time job, Nhlakanipho Ndlovu, had a different plan. After completing his Professional Cookery programme at the Sparrow FET College in 2015, Nhlakanipho Ndlovu embarked on his own journey.

Ndlovu Lounge

Ndlovu dug into his own savings and invested it into opening his own restaurant at his home in Soweto. Ndlovu was never an A student growing up, “He was a very quiet child, I remember when he was five years old he was still struggling with his speech and so I took him to a speech therapist. As he grew up he slowly got better but I realized that his school results were not the best, so I suggested that he try getting into hospitality, seeing that he enjoyed cooking with his sister so much,” says Catherine Ndlovu, his mother.

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After much motivation from his mother, Ndlovu took it upon himself to register for the Professional Cookery programme at the Sparrow FET College to enhance his cooking skills. “The idea to start this business was also motivated by all the things that I learned at Sparrow and Spar. I learned how to handle food and customers. Even how to run a business,” Ndlovu explains.

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Ndlovu has been running the business with the help of his brothers and sisters and will be employing two employees in February. Merely a month into the business, he is already open to hosting special events including community credit union events and birthday parties.

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Sparrows recount UK Tour

On 20 November, the Combined School Choir jetted off on a two week-long tour of the United Kingdom (UK). The cities visited included London, Watford, Chelsea and Banbury. The school embarks on the tour every three years and it serves as a huge cultural and social experience for the children.

Lelebohile Ramotlalane - Kamohelo Lephallo - Tshepo Lebididi - Karabo Khupe - Michelle Manganyi - Nomathamsanqa Ngamlana

The choir was kept very busy while on tour, averaging two performances a day over a two-week period. “The tour went very well, it was really lovely.  It was a great experience for the children. We also met some really great people; I was very impressed by the warm embrace of the people of England. The choir also did very well, at one performance we got a standing ovation where one lady actually cried. They really stepped it up and came alive on stage,” says Choir Conductor, Badelisile Gaobepe.

The choir was hosted by different host families associated with Sparrow through the Sparrow Foundation in the UK. “My highlight was getting to spend time with the host family that I was with,” recounts choir member, Karabo Khupe. She further adds, “Getting to go on tour of London was also a very great experience.”

Choir Master and Misstress - Dominic Gaobepe and Badelisile Gaobepe

The 12 member choir spent their time mesmerizing different schools and churches around the UK with their proudly African song and dance. Kamohelo Lephallo, in grade nine also recounts his highlights, “Singing at the different schools was my greatest highlight. I was also impressed with the kind of facilities the schools had that I am not used to.”

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The Sparrow Educational Trust Founder, Jackie Gallagher, thanks the National Lottery South Africa and the Edcon Group who made the trip possible and a great success. The National Lottery sponsored the funds that made it all possible while the Edcon Group sponsored clothes and toiletry.

“The whole point and theme of the choir performing was to celebrate former President Nelson Mandela’s legacy, his life and what he did for South Africa. The highlight was when the choir was invited to sing at the Royal Chelsea Hospital. They were the second choir to ever sing in the chapel for their Christmas celebration,” Jackie Gallagher says.

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