COVID-19’s Impact on Sparrow Schools

This pandemic has been incredibly trying and despite all of the challenges, we have been able to do some really incredible things, thanks to the hard work of our staff and resilience of our learners and students. We would like to celebrate this hard work that has sustained us and has taken us smoothly into unknown territories and new ways of being. 

Lockdown Adjustments

At the commencement of lockdown, we began the process of adjusting to online learning. This was a major challenge as a large number of our learners come from incredibly disadvantaged backgrounds and so do not have readily available access to the internet. Our staff and teachers quickly came up with a solution where our learners could continue with their learning through WhatsApp, GoogleDrive or learner packs that were delivered to them.

Returning to Work

Our staff then returned to work and on the 8th of June, so to did our learners, requiring a further adjustment from our teachers which they fully embraced. They had to learn how to teach while ensuring everyone was staying safe and they also had to learn how to deal with new trauma that has affected our learners during lockdown. The new rules around keeping safe at school which include temperature checks, sanitisation, social distancing and mask wearing were all introduced through a routine so as not to further overwhelm the students. We are so grateful to the parents for the trust they have put in our staff, to keep their children safe.

We would also like to celebrate our maintenance staff who have gone above and beyond in making sure we are operating in a safe schooling and working environment. They come in early in the morning to sanitise all classrooms and offices, which are also cleaned during breaks and deep cleaned at the end of each day fully sanitising all desks, chairs, doors, door handles, office equipment and floors. On top of this, they come in on Saturdays to do an additional deep clean of all the facilities.

Finally, we would like to celebrate our partners who have walked alongside us during this incredibly difficult time. Many of the individuals making up this organisation have suffered greatly as a result of the pandemic. As a means to combat this, we have done all we can to ensure they are able to thrive in this space. Warren, our wellbeing manager, organised online counselling, various companies donated food parcels to help feed our FET students whose stipends were stopped or reduced as a result of the financial strain that arose from the pandemic. Various companies also donated laptops for our FET students to use, allowing them to complete their work to the standard which they would like, to name a few examples.


These household chores promote developmental skills in kids

Aside from helping to take the some of the pressure off mom and dad, chores around the house also teach kids about responsibility and independence – but did you know that many common household tasks also foster the developmental skills of your children?

If you’ve been looking for a reason to have the kids help around the house, here are the ways in which chores are beneficial.

Chores promote bilateral coordination

Bilateral coordination refers to the way children use both sides of their bodies smoothly. Household tasks that help kids to use their left and right hands together include:

  • Washing the dishes
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Folding laundry

Chores promote fine motor skills and hand strength

Strengthening the small muscles in the hands is key to developing good fine motor skills. Chores that incorporate squeezing, pulling, pinching and grasping include:

  • Hanging laundry using clothespins
  • Folding laundry
  • Washing dishes, the floor or the windows with a sponge or cloth that needs to be wrung out

Chores improve proprioception and strength

Also known as kinaesthesia, proprioception refers to the coordination of movement thanks to the way joints and muscles send messages to the brain. Proprioception and strength is improved with tasks that require children to pull, lift and move against resistance, like:

  • Washing the floor
  • Pulling out weeds, shovelling and raking
  • Taking pillow cases, sheets and blankets off the bed to be washed
  • Making the bed

Chores promote midline crossing

When we cross the midline, we are spontaneously using the arm, hand, leg or foot on the opposite side of the body to complete a task. Tasks that promote midline crossing include:

  • Shovelling or raking leaves
  • Mopping and sweeping
  • Washing windows
  • Wiping down countertops or tables

Chores promote cognitive and visual skills

There is a strong relation between visual perception and visual motor integration (for the coordination of movements) and cognitive skills like sequencing, problem solving and memory. Household tasks that strengthen these skills include:

  • Setting the table
  • Sorting and tidying up toys
  • Matching socks
  • Putting away groceries
  • Following a recipe

While they’re at home, have the kids be active members of the household – not only will your home be sparkling, but you’ll also be helping to strengthen the developmental skills of your children.


Teaching tips for parents in the time of corona

The coronavirus outbreak has forced schools to close, and parents are finding the prospect of teaching their kids very daunting. Many parents now have to maintain their own remote work schedule while also making sure that the kids are continuously stimulated – a task that seems impossible to many mommies and daddies.

Here are a few tips to help you find the balance.

Maintain a routine

A routine helps to create an environment where children feel secure, but creating a daily schedule will also make your task much easier, especially if you are also working remotely. A routine also helps to maintain some semblance of normalcy, while also providing structure and momentum.

If you let your child have a hand in planning a daily schedule that works for everyone, they’ll be much more likely to adhere to it. Have your child draw up their daily schedule on a piece of paper and put it up somewhere they can always see it.

Of course, there’s no point in creating a schedule if it’s not always followed exactly – don’t make exceptions, or you’ll be sorry down the line. Childhood development experts describe a normal attention span as two to three minutes per year of their age. This means learners in grade 3 (if they do not have ADHD) should have an attention span of between 18 and 27 minutes. Keep this in mind when devising your child’s schedule.

Include physical activity every day

When setting up your children’s schedule, make sure to include time for physical activity during the day. When they go to school, kids are used to having breaks dedicated solely to play, which is why you should make sure that you also make ample room for physical activities that you can do at home.

Drawing a small hopscotch court on the ground and laying out sheets of toilet paper that can serve as makeshift “balance beams” are simple ways to ensure your child does activities that help to keep their gross motor skills in check while they’re not at school.

Set up a dedicated workspace

Every household does not have the luxury of study in the house, but you should try to dedicate one part of your home almost exclusively to schoolwork. Whether it is your child’s bedroom or the dining room table, there should be a space that can be used exclusively for learning, even if it is only for those times of the day when your child is doing their schoolwork. Using a specific space helps your child to get into the right mindset and to separate recreation from work.

Use household tasks as opportunities for learning

Combining chores and learning hits two birds with one stone. For example, letting your kids help out in the kitchen can be a great opportunity to practice math with recipes, and reading doesn’t have to be limited to the books they are reading for school. Having your kids help with the laundry is a great way to practice their concept of colours, while helping with dinner teaches them to follow instructions.

Give your kids a sense of security

Like the rest of us, your kids may be feeling anxious about the future and depressed about not seeing their friends. This is a good time to check in with your child about what they are feeling and to set their minds at ease. Try to validate their emotions – while not being able to go to soccer practice or see their teacher might seem like tiny issues to you, you must try to remember that your child’s life has also been completely disrupted. Even if nobody can predict just what the future will be like, you should try to give your children a sense of security by not discussing your concerns about finances and job security in front of them, and by ensuring them that this, too, shall pass.

As much as the national lockdown is playing havoc on our lives now, your child will certainly remember the quality time they have with you now when they are older. Cherish the opportunity to get to know your little one. We can’t wait to welcome them back to school very soon!


5 tips to make your LinkedIn profile stand out

Having an impressive professional profile on LinkedIn is perhaps more important than ever now. With both jobseekers and recruiters confined to their homes in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, now is the time to make sure your LinkedIn profile stands out among the rest.

Here are five tips to help you take your LinkedIn presence to the next level.

1. Make your profile picture and headline count

When searching for potential candidates, recruiters will scour the platform using specific search criteria. When you’re just one face among a sea of others, you want to grab their attention, which is why your profile picture and headline – the two things potential employers will see first – are especially important.

First off, you’ll want to use a photo that conveys an air of professionalism. Your other social media profiles can be fun, but as far as LinkedIn goes, you’ll want to use a photo in which you are dressed the way you would for an interview.

Your headline gives you the chance to add to that first impression – it appears right beneath your name in search results.

Headlines usually employ a standard format: (Job title) at (Company). Keep in mind that recruiters will use specific search terms when looking for candidates to fill a position, and try to use that to your advantage. Stick to standard job descriptions like “Educator”, “Sales Manager” or “End User and Output Services Manager”. If you aren’t currently employed, still list your area of expertise, but leave the company you work for blank. Change you headline by clicking on “Edit profile” and then clicking right beneath your name.

2. Use keywords in your “Skills” section

Again, you’ll want to use search algorithms to your advantage. LinkedIn lets you list up to 50 skills, and adding keywords that potential employers will use when searching for appropriate candidates will be to your benefit here. Not sure what to list? Google “skills + (your job title)” for suggestions.

3. Recommendations give you credibility

A sure-fire way to stand out among other people vying for the same position is to add recommendations to your LinkedIn profile. These can be from previous employers or from colleagues – here’s how to solicit recommendations from people you know.

4. Find inspiration from other LinkedIn profiles

If you’re an assistant chef looking to boost your LinkedIn profile, check out the way your peers are presenting themselves on the platform. Search for other people in the hospitality industry and take a page from their books – you might just come across skills that you have forgotten about. Of course, you shouldn’t just copy someone else’s profile word for word, but garnering inspiration from the outside helps to ensure that there’s nothing you’ve missed.

5. List your accomplishments

When listing your previous jobs, make sure to mention specific accomplishments, rather than only listing what you were responsible for. Here are a few guidelines.


5 tips for jobseekers in the face of the Covid-19 crisis

The coronavirus outbreak has hit every part of society, and one part of our lives that looks to be especially affected is employment. Already, preliminary modelling done by Business For South Africa (B4SA) has indicated that more than a million job losses could occur in 2020 as a result of the impact of the virus.

If you’re a jobseeker at the moment, you might understandably be feeling discouraged about your employment prospects, but that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels – here are five tips for jobseekers in the time of coronavirus.

1. Networking, networking, networking

With most people working from home, this is the time to expand your professional network and build contacts that can be valuable in the future. Don’t underestimate the power of networking: some studies have found that between 70% and 80% of jobs are never posted online, because positions are filled through personal referrals. If there’s a professional in your field you’ve always admired, now is the time to send an introductory email and to ask them about setting up a virtual coffee date. It’s unconventional, but might just you to make an impression – and when the time comes to fill a position at their company, your professional hero will remember you.

2. Clean up and update your social media profiles

Now, more than ever, potential employers will make use of your online presence to try and get an impression of who you are. Take a good, hard look at how you come across online – if you prefer to keep your private life private, hide your Facebook and Instagram pages, or get rid of anything that doesn’t bode well for future employment. One profile you should take special care with is your professional page on LinkedIn.

3. Look for opportunities at companies that won’t be as hard hit

Not all companies fall on hard times when economic disaster strikes. Look for employment opportunities at organisations that may even stand to benefit from the current circumstances, like textile manufacturers (who will be producing masks), delivery services and retailers.

4. Ramp up your résumé

Your CV is your chance to make a good first impression on potential employers. While you have time to do so, you should make sure that your CV stands out amongst the rest – check out these tips.

5. Expand your skillset

If you aren’t currently employed, this is a great time to upskill and gain extra qualifications. Many institutions of higher learning offer free courses in a wide range of fields, and especially qualifications in the online and IT realms look to be highly sought-after as the world turns to remote work.


Get to know the Sparrow FET staff: Musa Thomo

As the world takes a collective breather in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, we invite you to sit back and get to know some of the people who keep the wheels rolling at Sparrow FET College.

Musa Thomo has been a member of staff at Sparrow FET College since 2016, and was promoted to Operations Manager at Sparrow FET on 1 March this year.

Musa is 34, and an avid sportsman whose eloquence earned him the title of the best speaker on his debate team in 2008. As Operations Manager at Sparrow, Musa oversees the high-level HR duties at the College, and also works to create a space where staff can grow and thrive in order to best empower our students.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in KwaZulu-Natal and did my primary schooling there. I later moved to Johannesburg, where I completed my grade 12.

How would you describe your childhood?

I had a normal childhood under the guidance of both my parents (which I count as my biggest blessing), my father being the greatest inspiration in terms of leadership and assertiveness, and my mother being the more patient and thoughtful of the two.

I was privileged to be given the opportunity to attend multi-racial schools (from primary to secondary) which at the time were perceived to offer “better” and “quality” education, as opposed to township schools. I have two siblings – an older brother and a younger brother – making me the middle child.

When did you move to Johannesburg?

My “busy” childhood meant that I often travelled and alternated between schools in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg. In terms of my career life, I officially and permanently moved to Joburg in 2008.

What high school did you attend?

I attended Sir Pierre Van Ryneveld High School, and that is where I completed my grade 12.

What did you study after school?

I studied Public Relations Management and Communication after school, and acquired a National Diploma at NQF level 6. Last year I completed another programme, the National Certificate in Generic Management, NQF level 5.

Where did you study after school?

I studied at DUT and later went to MSC Business College.

What was your first job title at Sparrow?

I started off as a Job Coach.

What other positions have you held at Sparrow?

Within eight months of working at Sparrow FET College, I got promoted to Quality Assurance Supervisor.

How do you feel about this new position?

I am very excited, though it’s a bit overwhelming at this early stage. I believe I was thoroughly trained for this role, as I worked closely with the previous Operations Manager, Melanie Malema, who has been a great mentor to me.

How do you feel about the future of the Sparrow FET College?

I believe there is a bright future for Sparrow FET College in terms of growth, financially and otherwise. The trend from 2016 (when I started working here) evidently shows growth in our student numbers, which translates to growth in our business and ultimately our staff complement.

What do you wish to achieve in your new position?

I obviously want to maintain the College’s good standing in terms of past and current achievements, as cliché as this may sound. A personal goal for me is to minimise staff turnover by securing and holding on to the current staff complement through competitive salaries, motivation, an “open-door” policy in terms of my leadership approach and, most importantly, staff development and up-skilling.

Sparrow is proud to have a dedicated team of staff who support us in our efforts to arm the young people of South Africa with skills that can help them thrive. Under the competent guidance of Musa Thomo, we are excited to see how our staff comes up with innovative solutions and new approaches – both inside of the classroom, and out.


Gain knowledge and upskill for free during the lockdown with these online resources

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many people to stay at home in order to try and curb the crisis. While some people can work from home, many others are wondering how they’ll keep busy for the 21 days of the national lockdown.

With a number of companies choosing to make their resources available for free during this time, this is a great chance to learn new things. Check out these free online resources that’ll help you pass the time and upskill, wherever you are on your career journey.


As many workers and students are confined to their homes, Alison has put together a short list of courses that may be beneficial, including courses on Microsoft Excel, project management, and touch typing.


Get access to the millions of books, audiobooks, documents and magazines that form a part of Scribd’s extensive collection free for 30 days, without having to sign up with a credit card.


The online learning platform is now offering free access to a number of its courses to students all over the world. Some of the courses on offer specifically touch on career development – something that is especially useful during this time.


Always wanted to learn how to code? While you have time to do so, empowering yourself with coding skills certainly won’t do any harm. is offering a plethora of tech, coding and IT courses for free. Regardless of whether you have any experience in this realm, freeCodeCamp can help to empower you with new skills that’ll come in handy, whatever industry you currently work in.

Digital Skills for Africa

Google’s Digital Skills for Africa project is now offering free courses centring around skills that will benefit anyone looking to further their career when the crisis subsides, including courses to help you build a strong online strategy, and improve your interview skills and time management.


4 ways to keep the kids entertained during the lockdown

The 21-day lockdown announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa in order to try and stop the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country means that parents are now faced with the task of keeping the kids busy for a longer-than-expected vacation break.

Many parents have already started voicing their admiration for the educators who are tasked with teaching their kids every day, but what is a parent to do when the children start getting bored at home during the lockdown?

Here are four ways to help the kids stay engaged and entertained – and to help you retain your sanity – until schools open again.

1. Introduce them to the art world

A number of renowned art museums all over the world have started offering free virtual tours in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. These include the Louvre in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Guggenheim in New York. Here’s an idea that’ll keep the children busy for quite some time: have them pick their favourite artwork and try and copy it with what you have at home.

2. Let Audible entertain them with stories

Audible is home to the world’s largest collection of audiobooks. Audible has now made a curated selection of children’s audiobooks available for free until schools in the US open again – which could be quite a while. While we certainly also encourage reading to your children yourself, this is ideal for when other things around the house need your attention.

3. Experience the joy of reading together

When you do have time to do so, reading to your children is an excellent way to develop their language skills. has a library of more than 1000 free books to choose from – in local languages, at that!

4. Have them learn a new language

Children are especially receptive to learning a new language, and how wonderful would it be to see them walk out of the lockdown with the foundations for another language under their belts? The language-learning platform Rosetta Stone is now offering more than three months of free language learning to learners anywhere in the world.

We can’t wait to see the little ones back at Sparrow again, but until then, good luck – you’ve got this!


How to talk to your kids about the coronavirus

It goes without saying that most parents want to shield their children from the terrible things that, unfortunately, sometimes happen in the world. With that being said, kids are just as aware of the current coronavirus crisis as their parents are – when something is the top story on the news day after day, the children tend to notice.

Many parents might be wondering how to broach the subject of SARS-CoV-2 with their kids without sending them into a frenzy of fright and anxiety. Here are some tips.

Gauge what they know or think already

First off, parents will want to get an idea of what impression their kids already have of the coronavirus. In this regard, it’s good to ask open-ended questions like, “You might have noticed that things are a little different than they usually are – do you have any questions?”

Try to tailor your answers according to the child’s age, and keep them short. Young children can be especially frightened of the virus, as things are still real to them in a way that is different to older children, so you’ll want to give your kids accurate information, but not scare them at the same time. Explain how one contracts the coronavirus and why it is important that we keep our distance from other people, and wash our hands regularly to protect ourselves and to protect others.

Pay attention to how you speak to your kids

Your children will pick up on any underlying anxiety you have about the virus, and will adopt the same approach. If you are overly nervous, they’ll be nervous, too, so it’s better to set their minds at ease. Your child might be worried that they or people they love could die of the virus. Try to calmly explain that there is a difference between a normal case of the flu and coronavirus, and that not everyone that contracts the virus will die from it.

If they are worried about your health or the health of their grandparents, explain that older people can be more at risk, but that this is why everyone is staying at home and washing their hands often.

Take their feelings into account

Ask your children how they feel about the coronavirus and validate their feelings. If they say they are scared of getting sick, or angry that they can’t visit their friends, say that you understand their fear and frustration, but that you are taking all these precautions to keep the whole family safe and healthy.

Reinforce the importance of good hygiene

Maintaining good hygiene isn’t only important when a virus is going around, and this is a great time to explain exactly why your children should always try to keep their hands clean. Demonstrate the correct way to wash their hands, and make it fun by singing their favourite song while doing so. Explain that we should always cough or sneeze into our elbow, and that we should discard any used tissues or toilet paper in the rubbish bin or toilet immediately after use.

Explain to your children that we cannot control everything in the world, but that we do have the power to maintain a hygienic lifestyle, and that this can go a long way in keeping us healthy, both during and after the coronavirus outbreak.

Most of all, try to instil the idea in your children that this will not last forever. The pandemic will eventually pass, but while it is still around, it is important that we follow the guidelines to keep ourselves and others safe.


Sparrow hosts SES volunteer, Norbert Stoldt

As part of a new partnership with Senior Expert Services (SES), a German needs-driven volunteer programme, Sparrow Schools was proud to host Mr Norbert Stoldt from 27 January to 28 February.

Mr Stoldt, a 70-year-old retiree, and former yearslong Red Cross volunteer visited Sparrow as part of a knowledge exchange programme, led by SES. Norbert’s lifelong experience of working with NGOs informed a large part of his stay, which entailed skills development and advice on fundraising efforts for the school.

Although a younger group is increasingly joining its ranks, SES is mostly made up of retired people who wish to share the expertise they’ve gathered during their careers. In order to contribute in ways that assign specific skills and knowledge to address clearly defined needs all over the globe, these German volunteers are matched with specific projects.














Sparrow Schools CSI Manager, Renata Noble, says that Stoldt’s visit has certainly contributed and added value to the team.

“True wisdom is insight based on experience, which Norbert has a lot of from working in the NGO field for so many years. Most people around you will have an opinion to offer, but few will have wisdom. I am grateful for the time he has spent at Sparrow, and for all that he has contributed to help us continue to build a better South Africa,” said Noble.

Norbert praised the warmth and respect that South Africans had shown towards him during his visit. He was impressed with the organisational functioning at Sparrow, and is grateful to also have had the opportunity to learn lessons of his own.

“A trusting contact with the employees arose very quickly. That made my job easier and I was able to learn a lot from the conditions and the culture in South Africa.”

Norbert’s visit was documented by a television crew from the German station, Bilderfest GmbH Factual Entertainment.

The Sparrow Schools Corporate Social Investment department extends our heartfelt thanks to Mr Norbert Stoldt and SES, and believe that the relationship between us will continue to bloom in the coming years.