Bokang Mathebura talks about his journey through Sparrow Schools.

Bokang begun his journey with us at the Sparrow Foundation School in Grade 4. Previously Bokang was at a school, which has over 40 children per class and due to his barriers to learning, he could not cope and fell behind in his education.

‘I was in grade 4 and I could not read and I could hardly write… I really did not enjoy school.’

We asked Bokang how he found Sparrow Foundation School and his face lit up:

‘It was so nice. The classes were a lot smaller and I enjoyed the practical classes like cooking, woodwork and computer classes.’

Bokang has come a long way since he first started at Sparrow Schools. He practices reading regularly to his teacher and his handwriting has improved dramatically. He has now moved up to the Sparrow Combined School in Sophiatown, which is now known as the Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School offering a skills education programme with an NQF level 1 qualification: General Certificate of Education: Technical Occupational’ specialising in one of the following skills: Business Commerce & Management Studies; Health Sciences & Social Services; Hospitality Studies; Civil Technology: (Woodworking & Timber). The new skills focused education will open doors for opportunities into further studies; access to NQF level 2 courses at colleges or into the field of work, which they have been trained in and is demanded by the South African economy. The skills education programme is 75% practical and 25% theoretical; Language (English and IsiZulu), Mathematics and Life Skills remain compulsory.

In January 2017, Bokang was selected by the teachers to be a prefect at the Combined School. His polite manner, good behaviour and caring nature is evident to all who meet him. Whilst talking to Bokang about his experience at Sparrow, he politely excused himself, to run down the playground to help a Sparrow FET College student who was in a wheelchair and struggling to get up a ramp.

He continued to talking about his experience at the Combined School and his love of the new skills programme and the Civil Technology: (Woodworking & Timber) class.

‘It is such a nice school, I am proud to be perfect at Sparrow Schools.”

For more information on the new Sparrow Combined Technical Skills School call 011 673 3558.


Stimulating literacy during holidays

Help your child practice their reading and writing skills by using the play dough recipe below. Explain to your child that they will be helping you make play dough. Read the play dough recipe together with your child to help them practice their reading skills.

Try sounding out the letter sounds in words that they struggle with, e.g. “k” + “uh” + “p” for “cup”. Tell your child to write out their own play dough ingredients list to help them practice their spelling. You can help them by reading out the ingredients from the play dough recipe one line at a time.

At the grocery store, encourage your child to read out their ingredients list to you. At home, read out the directions of the recipe together. Then, let your child read out the instructions for you to follow. Lastly, invite some of their friends over and watch them enjoy playing with the play dough together.

Playdough recipe


  1. 1 cup cold water
  2. 1 cup salt
  3. 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  4. food colouring
  5. 3 cups of flour
  6. 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Directions: Pour wet ingredients and salt together in a bowl. Stir well. Gradually add flour and cornstarch. Knead until firm. Store in an airtight container.

Words by Candice Tu, she studied Speech Therapy at the University of Cape Town and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology with honours in 2013.

Tu forms part of the organisation’s Learner Support Unit. This is a multidisciplinary team of therapists who provide additional academic and emotional support across the organisation.

Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Remedial Therapy and Counselling is provided individually or in small groups. Standardised and screening assessment is conducted to track the progress and development of learners.

To book an assessment for your child for 2017, contact 011 482 1015.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Empowering young people through agriculture

On 27 October 2015, Nedbank Personal Loans in partnership with the City of Johannesburg and the Department of Social Development donated a second veggie tunnel at the Sparrow Combined School. This is an effort to promote agriculture and teaching learners about the importance of food security.


Although South Africa is considered a food secure nation, there remains serious food security challenges. According to an address by Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development in 2015, one in four people currently suffer from hunger on a regular basis. He further adds that more than half of the population is at risk of going hungry.


The Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution states that “every citizen has a right to have access to sufficient food, water and social security”. The veggie tunnels donated to the Sparrow Combined School will go a long way in ensuring that learners facing learning challenges are equipped with the right tools to develop self-sufficiency and thus providing them with the capability to earn a livelihood.


Justine Bolton, who implements caring for communities projects with Nedbank explains, “The projects’ purpose is to promote sustainability across schools, communities while ensuring that children stay in school. The aim is also to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship in these young people.”


According to the Department of Social Development and the City of Johannesburg’s programme coordinator, Zandile Zwane, “It is very important that young people are provided with the critical skills needed to empower themselves.”

The veggie tunnels are used as part of an ongoing project incorporated into the schools’ Adaptive Skills Programme. The garden at the school, where the Kale is grown, is used as a means of raising funds for the school which will go towards subsdising learners’ fees.

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Meet the Sparrow Choir

In November this year, the Sparrow Combined School Choir will embark on a tour of the United Kingdom. The tour will be a huge cultural and social experience for the learners. Many of them will have never traveled outside their hometowns and will have had no idea of the real meaning of an English winter. Meet one half of the choir members:

Kamo Lephallo

Kamo Lephallo

Age: 16

Born: Orlando West, Soweto

Voice type: Soprano

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I’m kind and friendly with people. Basically, what you see is what you get.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: In my spare time, I play computer games and chess. I really like playing brain games

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself as an actor or musician. If I go into the acting field, I would like to be an actor on Isidingo (popular South African telenovela). If I go into the music industry, I would rap.

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: From what I have been told and read, he was a well-known, respected man that did a lot of good deeds for our country.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would help the poor by providing disadvantaged children with free basic education and jobs for their parents.

Kelebogile Peele

kele peele

 Age: 18

Born: Molapo extension, Soweto.

Voice type: Soprano

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I am quiet and shy in nature that is why I have a small circle of 4 friends. I usually speak when spoken to.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I cook and occasionally sing old school RNB music the likes of Mariah Carey and Tamia.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself opening my own restaurant in Sandton (Johannesburg) because I am passionate about cooking.

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: It means Ubuntu and working as one as well as equal rights for all citizens.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would help street kids with shelters to accommodate them. I would also set up programmes to help them achieve their life goals

Noma Ngamlana

Nomathamsanqa Ngamlana

Age: 15

Grade: 9

Born: Mofolo, Soweto

Voice type: Alto

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I am a shy person. I am short-tempered and I love my family.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I read books when I have nothing to do so far I have read High School Musical.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself studying BA Tourism Management at the University of Johannesburg

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: It means fighting for people’s rights even though it personally affects you.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would build homes and hospitals for poor people.

Sanele Nkabinde

Sanele Nkabinde

Age: 14

Grade:  8

Born: Diepkloof, Soweto

Voice type:  Soprano

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I love singing because it makes me happy. I do not like greedy people.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: If I’m not singing, I am probably reading a book like Charlie and the chocolate factory, and Silver Book.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself as an English or Isizulu teacher. If I choose to go into singing, I will sing gospel songs like Rebecca Malope and Hlengiwe Mhlaba.

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: It means an act of heroism whereby a man went to prison for 27 years in the fight for equal rights.      

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would reduce crime in South Africa by deploying more police onto the streets.

Karabo Khupe

Kari Khupe

Age: 15

Grade: ASP 3

Home: Parktown, Johannesburg

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I’m a kind person that loves joking around. I also play sports namely netball and hockey.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: When I have nothing serious to do, I go to the gym or simply unwind at the mall with my friends.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself as a successful hockey player for the South African national team.

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: It means freedom, and equal rights and responsibilities for all.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would reduce crime in South Africa by creating employment.

Tumelo Vilakazi

Tumelo Vilakzi

Age: 16

Grade:  ASP 1

Home:  Fourways, Johannesburg.

Q: Tell us about yourself

A: I like singing a lot. I do not like cats because I have asthma. I attend church on Sundays and I like travelling.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I chill with friends and teach them how to sing. I also sketch fashion designs because I want to be a fashion designer when I grow up.

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

A: I see myself working for a sewing company so that I can learn how to start my own fashion company, if not, I see myself singing on Idols South Africa or being a choir mistress like Mrs. Badesile Gaobepe (Choir Mistress).

Q: What does the Mandela spirit mean to you?

A: Simply means to help people that cannot help themselves and spread peace.

Q: If you could change the world, what would you do?

A: I would buy houses for poor people and I would reduce the price of bread, milk, toiletries and other essentials.

The tour will help expand links with Sparrow among a number of UK schools, some of whom have organised exchange tours of their own including Tudor Hall School for Girls and Westminster Under School. The aim is to expand knowledge of Sparrow to new audiences, as well as among existing supporters. Click here for the tour itinerary.

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Creative Writing student Jets off to Germany!

Sparrow Schools sends a round of applause to our very own creative writing pupil at the Combined School, Shivar Lalla. Lalla overcame the odds and was awarded a scholarship by the Goethe-Institute. He is representing Sparrow Combined School and is joining other pupils across South Africa for a three-week German language course in Munich.


Shivar Lalla

“I am looking forward to seeing all the different and new places, seeing all the German cars, stadiums but mostly expand my knowledge of the German language and culture,” Lalla said

The course kicked off from 14 June 2015 and will conclude on 4 July 2015.

Sparrow Schools is extremely proud and wish Lalla all the best. He is not only representing the School but the whole of South Africa.