Caution: magic at work – Grantley College ‘minds the gap’

| November 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Gail McQueen

Grantley College was founded in 1964 by Grant Levay, who realised the need for a school that offered specialised education for high school students with learning difficulties.

The school has always been situated in Parktown, an old suburb in Johannesburg, Gauteng – initially at 24 Junction Avenue, the site of a renowned late-Victorian mansion built by architect Frank Emley in the late 1890s and one of the first residential plots to be developed in the area. It was demolished in the late 1980s. The school moved to its present location in 1990. Grantley College has a proud heritage and fine reputation of service to a community of families who wish to give their children a second chance at success. It is an independent, coeducational, non-profit school that offers mainstream education to students who have one or more learning disabilities, and are experiencing a gap between their potential and actual achievement.

A recipe for success

It aims to create and sustain a less-anxious classroom environment, where students receive tuition from caring staff and a multidisciplinary remedial/educational support team. We are registered with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and have been a member of ISASA since 1991.

Grantley is 50 years old this year and has successfully grown in numbers and stature, as it continuously aims to improve and develop the structure of the college and the education that is offered, using its history to develop and shape the future of the school.

Although academic achievement is not the sole measure of success, it is nevertheless an important criterion for the effective integration of learners into the adult world. Grantley students write the National Senior Certificate examination through the Gauteng Education Department and have, in recent years, achieved a 100% matric pass rate. Grantley College has the honour of being named by the DBE as the top Learners with Special Educational Needs (LSEN) school from 2010 to 2013 in the Johannesburg East district.

Our matric students are able to achieve university exemptions, and a fair percentage of them receive distinctions in some subjects offered in our curriculum.

Plenty of education support Grantley employs warm, caring, empathetic and well-qualified staff who are able to encourage our students to reach their full potential. This cohort is ably led by two principals, in charge of academics and operations respectively, a group of department heads and an involved and supportive board of governors. Grantley College’s education support unit is staffed by an educational psychologist, a psychometrist and a team of remedial teachers. The unit offers services such as:

  • scholastic assessments
  • subject choice assessments
  • therapy
  • workshops
  • educator support
  • parent support
  • integrated learning therapy (ILT)
  • remedial therapy/subject-specific support
  •  in-class support
  • time concessions – all learners obtain extra time for tests and exams
  • amanuensis
  • reader concessions.

We also offer a unique social intervention called ‘Glow and Grow’1 for children who, although they might have excellent academic skills, could experience social difficulties or experience awkwardness or victimisation in a group situation. This programme works exceptionally well if a student has participated in it in the formative years of Grade 8 or Grade 9. Grantley College prides itself in the relationships it has forged with many different schools. We have particularly close ties with our feeder schools such as Japari School, Crossroads School, Bellavista School, Glenoaks Primary School and Cedarwood School, to name but a few.

Inclusion means getting involved

Apart from a dynamic educational environment with small classes (our constitution mandates that we cannot exceed a class size of 15 students), the college offers a multidisciplinary programme that includes sport and extramural cultural activities. We are also involved in larger inclusion projects. For example, in 2013, Grantley College was a training site for a teacher development initiative between the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg and the DBE.2 Our staff have been identified as creative, dynamic and well-educated and conduct training workshops every other Saturday. This initiative aims to offer support to educators from other schools who are struggling to cope with the demands of the syllabus, administration and their learners.

We are also proud to be one of the schools that took part in this year’s Johannesburg Arts Alive International Festival School’s Visual Arts initiative.3 The theme this year was ‘Metaphors of Freedom in 3-D’. The aim of the project was to celebrate 20 years of democracy by creating a mobile that would reflect how we have moved from being a country infamous for oppression to a country of unity.

In conclusion, I have had the privilege of working in this unique environment for 24 of its 50 years. I have never been bored and each day is different. There is magic at work here at this school, which is underpinned by a simple aim: to make a difference, one child at a time.

References:
1. See, for example: https://melissatabor.wikispaces.com/file/view/Glow+and+Grow+Self+Reflection.pdf.
2. See, for example: http://www.sci-bono.co.za/Teachers/teachers.php.
3. See, for example: http://arts-alive.co.za/event/metaphors-of-freedom-in-3d/.

Category: Summer 2014

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