A promising partnership: Pembury Lifestyle Group (PLG) Willow View Academy, Gauteng, and PLG Ballito Academy, KwaZulu-Natal, join ISASA
Two new schools – PLG Willow View Academy, Gauteng, and PLG Ballito Academy, KwaZulu-Natal – opened their doors for the first time in 2015, and joined ISASA.
These schools also heralded the arrival of a new role player, Pembury Lifestyle Group (PLG), in the field of independent education.
PLG1 is a people-oriented organisation, well known in South Africa for its hotels,conference centres and retirement lodges. Andrew McLachlan, the CEO, established the group in
1999. An entrepreneur, he realised the need for affordable,quality independent schooling in South Africa and decided to expand the group into the field of education.
PLG plans to level the playing field
The concept of affordable independent schooling requires clarification. PLG aims to bridge the fee gap between state schools and traditionally expensive, ‘elite’ private schools. PLG
will provide quality education to South Africa’s youth at an affordable cost: the PLG fees will be higher than that of many government schools, but often half the amount demanded by
some independent schools. Depending on the school’s location,the 2016 PLG fees start from R1 950 per month for preprimary, to R3 900 per month for high school tuition.
The opening of the two new schools in 2015 was spearheaded by the energetic approach of the director of education at PLG, Noel Coetzee, who was appointed in September 2014.
Coetzee has considerable business experience and served for seven years as the executive head of Treverton Schools, a well established independent school in KwaZulu-Natal.
The new PLG schools provide tuition from pre-primary level to high school, and the Grade RRR–Grade 9 curricula and subject choices are in line with the national Curriculum
Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS).2 At the senior level, PLG students will write the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) examinations.
Filling the gap
PLG Willow View Academy, which is close to OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng, has fulfilled the need for independent school education in this area. The school is positioned in a serene country atmosphere, adjacent to a picturesque willow-bordered lake. In addition to academic amenities, the school offers boarding facilities for up to 50 pupils from Grade 3 to high school, welcoming children from rural areas and neighbouring states. At present, classes span from pre-primary to Grade 9. From 2016, the school will be offering the three grades of senior high school education –10,11 and 12 – year by year.
PLG Ballito Academy is situated on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, close to Durban. The area’s rapid residential growth has resulted in a shortage of schools in the area, and PLG Ballito Academy immediately filled the gap. It also offers limited boarding in a modern hostel converted from a hotel, and provides tuition from Grade RR to Grade 11. The first Grade 12 (matric) class will write its final school examinations in 2016.
Affordable quality always the key concern
PLG schools are co-educational, providing healthy interaction and mutual respect for and between both genders. Class sizes will, like most independent schools, be limited to 25 pupils. The subject choices offered at senior high school embrace a range of learners’ and parents’ most prevalent choices, and will be constantly under review as demands change. Sport and cultural extramural activities are also on a par with similar independent schools. The PLG schools will compete against neighbouring schools, and learners will have the opportunity to be chosen for provincial teams.
PLG will also offer specialised activities (varying from school
to school, depending on the local demand) that could include
modern dancing, ballet, gymnastics, karate, music, and arts and crafts.
At each school, there will be staff members trained to give
appropriate attention to minor injuries and to assess whether further professional medical attention is required.
At present, English is the language of classroom instruction,
with additional languages taught in relation to the geographic area of the school. Each PLG school is underpinned by Christian mores.
Appointment of staff members depends on appropriate
registration, impressive recommendations, excellent
qualifications and, for senior staff, experience at various levels of teaching.
PLG has tried to make school uniforms as economical and
‘universal’ as possible. To minimise costs, the white shirt and
navy blue shorts, skirt and socks will be available from normal
retail outlets. Some items are branded with the PLG logo, including the tie, blazer, jersey and sport uniforms.
Thirty PLG schools planned
The PLG Group is also engaged in building new facilities and improving existing amenities. In January 2016, four new PLG schools will be opening. The ultimate aim is to open 30 PLG
schools throughout South Africa, rolling out two to five per annum. The appointment of staff for the new schools to be opened in 2016 is taking place at present.
PLG Northriding Academy in Northriding, Randburg, Gauteng, will be housed in the converted and refurbished Banbury Crossing Shopping Centre in Northriding. The PLG Group, together with the neighbouring nursery school, which includes a Grade RRR class, recently acquired the property. This institution will continue to accept children from infants to the first preschool class, and will act as a feeder to the PLG Northriding Academy preschool. The nursery school, preprimary and primary school and junior high school classes up to Grade 9 will open in January 2016. The high school will continue to Grade 12 in 2017. The school will also offer aftercare facilities.
A second new PLG school will open in Gauteng in 2016: PLG Mellow Oaks Academy in Ruimsig, Roodepoort on the West Rand, with classes ranging from Grade RRR to Grade 9. Senior high school classes from Grade 10–12 will be available from 2017.
Look out for a PLG school near you
PLG is also branching out into two more provinces: North West and Limpopo.
PLG Hartbeespoort Academy in Hartbeespoort, North West province, is the former Doxa Deo Hartbeespoort School. PLG has acquired the school and buildings and is busy transforming them. Although it is currently only a primary school up to Grade 7, plans are in place to open the first high school classes in 2016. Boarding facilities are also on the cards for 2016. The language of instruction will be English, except in Grade 1, where English and Afrikaans will be used to ensure the children whose mother tongue is Afrikaans are able to
acquire the initial learning skills. From Grade 2, English will be fast-tracked, and from Grade 4, instruction in all grades will be in English. Former Doxa Deo staff at the school will retain their positions as educators and work with and be guided by the newly appointed headmaster, Rob Wyatt-Minter, an experienced teacher and school administrator. PLG SanRock Academy in Modimolle, Limpopo, will initially offer tuition from Grade R to Grade 7, and will also offer boarding facilities.
Peace of mind for PLG parents
The PLG Group has plans to list with the JSE. Parents will therefore have peace of mind that the organisation taking care of their children’s education is not a small ‘fly by night’
company, but a serious and reputable institution. All schools will be ISASA members.
Says Coetzee: “The response to the opening of these new schools, often in areas where there is a dearth of suitable schools, has been phenomenal.
“We feel confident that the PLG schools will continue to provide a high standard of affordable education for South Africa’s future citizens.”
1. See: http://www.pembury.co.za/feel-at-home/people-with/.
2. See: http://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/NCSGradesR12/ CAPS/tabid/420/Default.aspx.
3. See: http://www.ieb.co.za/.
Category: Summer 2015