“Sparrow Foundation School helped my son so much, that he hates the weekend and all he says is, “I want to go to school today.”

I don’t think we have ever seen anyone with such a big smile,  early on Monday mornings,  like the smile on little Siyabonga Nkutha’s mom, Nozizwe’s face.

Sparrow Foundation School welcomed Siyanbonga to Grade 1 at the end of January, a few weeks after the rest of the learners had started the new academic school year

As a shy boy with autism, Siyanbonga had not been able to find a school that could support his special needs. But, one month in, we have all been surprised and delighted by how well he has settled into his new school.

“My son now hates the weekend, he always says  “I want to go to school today” but I have to explain to him that school is closed on weekends.

“At first Siyabonga used to cry as I left him to go to school, he was so anxious! However, a week later, his behaviour changed! He now plays with other children and tells me how much he loves to go to his beautiful school,” explains Nozizwe.

Siyabonga was referred to Sparrow Foundation School through a play therapy clinic in Sophiatown, where he was diagnosed with autism.  He previously attended a local school, which specialised in supporting children with ADHD but was not given the attention that he needed. Nozizwe explained how her son was often not in the classroom, as he was teased for being different and could not cope in a mainstream school.

We didn’t understand what was wrong with him and I had no idea what autism was.” Nozizwe told us that she found the Autism South Africa website extremely useful in providing her with information on autism. Autism, as defined by Autism South Africa (A;SA) is:

…a developmental disability… people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely impaired.

Still a relatively unknown disability, Autism makes it difficult for parents, schools and communities to support children with special learning and social needs. However there is a lot of support available. 

Sparrow Schools, specialises in, and provides a safe and friendly environment for children with learning disabilities to attend school. The small classroom size and the learner support unit (LSU), which supports the child holistically, can provide additional assistance to help with remedial educational needs.

If you would like to find out more about your child attending Sparrow Foundation School, please call +27 11 482 3520.

The drive to integrate technology at Sparrow Schools

On the 7th of February, Sparrow’s Grade 6 class had a special visit from a company called Poynting Direct which specialises in boosting antennas and wireless technologies in South Africa. Ivy Matlawa and Reabetswe Makwela brightened up the Tuesday morning Science class by dropping off the first tablet devices for the school. The faces of the children and Mr Peterson lit up as the tablets were handed out to the class.

With the goal of supporting the integration of technology into the classrooms, the donation of these tablets came at a perfect time for the school. When Mr Peterson (Science teacher at Sparrow Schools) returned from London after the Teacher Exchange Programme between Dulwich Prep London and Sparrow Schools, he was keen to incorporate technology in his classrooms. Mr Peterson witnessed the benefits of using technology to support the education of pupils at Dulwich Prep London, and wanted the same of his class in Johannesburg.

Thank you again Poynting Direct for your generous donation and for choosing Sparrow Schools for your CSI project.

Team from Henley Business School support Sparrow’s Feeding Scheme

Over the past five months, Sparrow School has worked with middle managers who were completing a Management Advancement programme at Henley Business School, South Africa. As a beneficiary of the programme, Sparrow received free facilitation and consultation from six people on the programme to help develop our new feeding scheme.

The Foundation School Feeding Scheme started in January 2016, when a few concerned teachers and social workers noticed that some of the children had nothing to eat at school; no breakfast or lunch and consequently could not concentrate during class. The feeding scheme started off informally with a social worker bringing in sandwiches from home for children but soon realised that the issue was a lot bigger. After conducting formal assessments and interviews to see which children were not being fed before school or had no lunch with them at school, the staff found that there were 30 children who needed to be included on the feeding scheme. With the need being so great, Sparrow required a sustainable solution for the feeding scheme.


From April- October, Henley Business students visited the school to learn about our organisation and needs. On one occasion, the team volunteered to make burgers for the children and handed out a food parcel to all 30 children on the feeding scheme and described it as a humbling experience’. The Henley team facilitated a learning process that enabled Sparrow staff to identify the different issues preventing a sustainable feeding scheme at the school and allowed us to take a fresh approach to address our challenges. The programme culminated with a presentation on October 31st whereby the Henley team presented to Sparrow their journey and feedback.

The journey was based on a mutually beneficial relationship. Both parties learnt from each other and inspired each other to look at new ways to address the feeding scheme.

‘Henley Business School SA is committed to developing Africa’s leaders, this means reaching beyond corporate South Africa and into Civil Society. We recognise that with the universal need for business practice to be ethical, relevant, profitable and most importantly sustainable, we need more servant leaders who manage purpose driven enterprises.’ (Henley Business School).

The partnership was a great demonstration on how more needs to be done to bridge the gap between the corporate sector and community in order to build a better South Africa.

The outcome from working with the Henley Business School has been increased communication in the organisation; the social workers have worked closely with the fundraising team to communicate the needs of the feeding scheme. As a result, Sparrow have made a successful partnership with a company who has supplied food for the feeding scheme to ensure all the children have breakfast and lunch. This has helped concentration levels and learning in the classroom and will hopefully reflect in the exams results taking place next week. Sparrow have also employed a new staff member to prepare and deliver the food for the children on the feeding scheme so the teachers and social workers can focus on educating and supporting Sparrow children.

Thank you, once again to all the Henley Business School for all your support and encouraging business and communities to work together.

If your company would like to get involved with the community and support the development of South African youth we would love to meet you! Whether you need to get more benefits from what you spend on Skills Development or Enterprise & Supplier Development, or seek to do more with your Socio-economic and Corporate Social Investment budget, Sparrow FET College and Sparrow Schools provides reliable and valuable solutions across the board.


Sparrow learners enjoy a week long camp to celebrate the end of the school year!

After a long year of working hard at school, completing their homework and finishing their exams, pupils from grade 1 and 2 enjoyed a fantastic School Camp to end the school year on a high.

The camp was hosted by ‘Camp Footprints’ at Kwalata Adventure Camp in the Dinokeng BIG 5 Game Reserve. The week long camp took place from the 14th to the 18th November 2016 and the lead up was an exciting and nerve racking time for some of the children who were away from their families for the 1st time.    

The opportunity was provided by The Just Footprints Foundation, which is a registered Non-Profit organisation, that has been running since 2008 to meet the need for an outdoor camping experience that provides safe and secure adventures for children with serious health and life challenges. Many of our Sparrow learners have experienced serious life challenges already in their early life including severe poverty,  abuse, neglect and the loss of one or both parents.

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The opportunity provided by the Just Footprint Foundation was enjoyed by all the children who attended the camp, as it allowed them to be children once again in a safe and caring environment. The camping programme included environmental awareness, intentional play, fun activities and personal growth opportunities. It also provided the children the opportunity of make new friends and experience many unique and new adventures.

Thank you again for all the staff and volunteers who provided Sparrow learners with the opportunity to attend a unique school camp but also made it such an enjoyable time for the children.

Sparrow Schools are on the lookout for similar opportunities for our learners who do not get these opportunities without the generous support and donations from companies. individuals and Trusts. If you are able to help disadvantaged children with learning difficulties in Johannesburg, then we would like to hear from you.

Please contact:Foundation Reception (foundation@sparrowschools.co.za)

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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Helping A Child With Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is the way people see themselves. Children develop self-esteem very early in life and are shaped by their own expectations as well as the expectations of significant people in their life, such as parents, caregivers or peers.

Self-esteem is an important factor in a child’s motivations and achievements and can have an effect on their performance in school, sports, social relationships and the ability to recover from disappointment. A child’s self-esteem can change from day to day, however, their overall self-esteem plays a major role in their emotional development. Children with low self-esteem will tend to settle for modest accomplishments and may feel shame or inadequacy and are more likely to conform to their peer group and adopt their behaviours and values. Children with low-self esteem are often not able to deal with stress and failures.

To determine if a child has low self-esteem, look for the following signals:

  • A child who avoids a task or challenge without even trying or quitting at the first sign of frustration.
  • Cheating or lying when the child thinks they are going to lose.
  • Drop in school grades.
  • Social withdrawal or little contact with friends.
  • Makes self-critical comments like “nobody likes me”.
  • Overly sensitive about other people’s opinion of them.

How can you help a child with low self-esteem? In order for a child to develop a healthier self-esteem, they will need the following:

  1. Sense of security: Children must feel secure about themselves and their future.
  2. Sense of belonging: Children need to feel accepted and loved by others. This begins in the family and extends to friends, schoolmates, and other groups.
  3. Sense of purpose: Children should have goals that give them purpose and direction.
  4. Personal competence and pride: Children should feel confident in their ability to meet the challenges in their lives. This comes from having success in solving problems, being creative and seeing results from their efforts.
  5. Trust: Children need to feel like they are trusted by their parents, caregivers and other children. To help children feel trusted, you need to be sure to keep promises you make to them and give them chances to be trustworthy.
  6. Self-discipline and control: As children are gaining independence, they need to sense that they can make it on their own. Give them opportunities and guidelines for them to test themselves.
  7. Accepting mistakes and failure: Children need to know that when they make a mistake they are not defeated. When a child makes a mistakes or fails, explain that hurdles and setbacks are a normal part of life and the important thing is to always try their hardest and to ask for help when they need it. Support them with constructive criticism that is designed to help them improve, not to make them feel discouraged or humiliated.

Words by Marichen Klaver, she is a registered Counsellor/student Educational Psychologist at Sparrow Schools. She holds a B.Ed Senior & Fet phase in Mathematics and English. B.Ed honours in Educational Psychology. She is also currently completing her M.Ed in Educational Psychology.

Klaver 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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Signs that your child is being bullied

The Learner Support Unit at Sparrow Schools is actively busy with programs to combat bullying in the schools. These programs vary from individual therapy, group therapy, and class interventions. Bullying is a problem in most school settings and according to Gail Dore’s book, Bully-Proof, if it is not identified correctly or in time can lead to severe psychological and health implications. Bullying can take place in one or more ways such as physical, verbal, sexual or cyber bullying.


As a parent, guardian or educator you are not with the child 24 hours a day and might not always be able to see the actual bullying, but the following warning signs can assist you to identify if your child is being bullied. Some warning signs include:

  • The unwillingness of a child to go to school and showing sudden signs of distress and fear.
  •  When a child is withdrawing from school activities and school involvement.
  • Unexplained bruises obtained at school.
  •  Missing property, for example, lunch.

These are only a few of the warning signs reported by parents and educators. If you become aware that your child is at risk of being bullied or shows signs of being bullied it is important to discreetly discuss the matter with your child. It is important to inform an educator of bullying if it occurs in the school environment so that the educator can address the problem accordingly.

Words by Rizel Venter, Social Worker at the Sparrow Schools Educational Trust. Venter holds an Honours Degree in Social Work from the North West University, currently MSW in Community Development.

Rizel Venter

Rizel Venter

Rizel forms part of Sparrow School’s Learner Support Unit (LSU). The LSU 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.

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Educational activities for the holidays

Holidays are coming up and your children are excited to have a break, relax, sleep late, watch TV, and see their friends. It is important however that your child is still doing some educational activities during these holiday weeks.

Here are some ideas:

  • Reading, reading and more reading! If you don’t have books at home then you could go to the local library. Your child should be encouraged to read stories they enjoy and that are at a level that is suitable for them. As a family you could read books together.


  • Playing board games. There are some really great board games out there that you can play together. Games like Scrabble, 30 seconds, and Pictionary are great for spelling and increasing vocabulary. Games like monopoly are good for entrepreneurship and maths. Even simple games like cards or snakes and ladders are good for counting and learning to take turns.
  • Have a family quiz night.
  • Creating scrapbooks and collages.
  • Writing stories, creating comics, or journaling about the holiday.
  • Going on educational outings such as to the zoo or a museum.
  • Building different structures and objects using recyclable material or building blocks.
  • Practice measuring at home by letting your children help you with cooking and baking.
  • If you have a tablet or phone, you can download educational games for your child to play.
  • If your child loves TV, try encourage them to also watch some educational programs such as nature documentaries.
Father and son with laundry basket

Father and son with laundry basket

It is fine to let your kids have some TV, phone and tablet time but make sure they are balancing this out with outside play, social activities, educational activities, and helping with chores around the house.

Happy Holidays.

Words by the Sparrow School’s Educational Trust Speech Therapist, Samantha Bolton.

Bolton’s educational background:

Advanced Diploma in Remedial Education (UJ) In Progress; Post Graduate Certificate in Education – Intermediate and Senior Phase (UNISA) ; BA Psychology Honours degree; (University of Johannesburg) CUM LAUDE; BA degree Psychological Counseling (UNISA) CUM LAUDE.

Tudor Hall in South Africa

Each year, for the past 6 years, the Sparrow Foundation School has enjoyed the support of the United Kingdom based, Tudor Hall School for Girls. As part of their Tudor in 3 Continents program, the school disperses to community service projects around the world including South America, India and Africa.

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This annual program is aimed at instilling the value of giving time and broadening the minds of learners to the world outside of their comfort zone. It is also a huge cultural and social experience for both the Sparrow Foundation School and Tudor Hall School.

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The relationship between the Sparrow Foundation School and Tudor Hall started 8 years ago. This happened during one of the first ever Sparrow Schools Choir Tours in the UK and the relationship was developed by then Tudor Hall Governor, Heather Holden-Brown.

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The Sparrow Foundation School has hosted Tudor Hall for over six years running and their latest visit was on 24 October 2015, where they spent a week with the school. The Tudor Hall teachers spent their time working with the Foundation Schools’ teachers and assisting with after school programs. Meanwhile the Tudor learners spent most of their time with Foundation Schools’ pupils, teaching them how to play records and assisting them with their reading and writing.

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The school has also consistently offered financial support through the years. Over the two occasions that they have been to the Foundation School this year, they revamped the music room, sponsored a piano and revamped the schools’ reading corners.

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Sparrow Schools joins third industrial revolution

Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing is taking the world by storm and Sparrow Schools is joining the revolution. With just a click of a button, you can turn a digital file into an actual physical 3D part object. Many manufacturing industries have also joined the wave. According to a Wohlers Report 2014, the 3D printing industry is expected to grow and exceed the $21B mark in worldwide revenue by 2020.


After being approached by two University of Cape Town students who started a programme called 3D for Schools, the Sparrow Foundation School is looking to integrate 3D printing into the school’s maths, science and technology curriculum.  For instance in the mathematics subject, while learners are taught about shapes, through 3D printing, they will be able to physically develop the shapes, giving them a better grasp of volume, height and width.

3D print

Furthermore, 3D printing will take its remedial intervention plans to a whole new level, particularly for autistic learners. It has been found that autistic children learn differently from their peers.  They have difficulty visualising concepts and relating to stories or pictures on a page.

The Foundation Schools’ autistic learners were tasked with designing floor plans for their dream houses. They failed when they drew on paper but thanks to 3D printing, they successfully completed the floor plans in 2 days after using Sketchup (3D modelling computer programme). People with autism are visually gifted, they think in pictures. In this sense, 3D printing is one of the tools that can help them express their ideas and creativity.

3D printer

The 3D printing programme also aims to inspire and trigger thoughts in young minds. It seeks to keep them up-to-date with the third industrial revolution, driven by additive manufacturing (3D printing).  The programme will also instill the spirit of entrepreneurship in learners from an early age considering that the industry is going mainstream. “We are already starting to see businesses, both large and small, take advantage of 3D printers to create customized designs or follow blueprints. The real appeal lies in speedy prototyping and increased accessibility,” says Chris Elsworthy, CEO of CEL, the makers of the Robox 3D printer.

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