By Sandra MCCallum
In 2009, Roedean School (SA) in Johannesburg, Gauteng, launched the Roedean Academy in response to the compelling need for well-resourced school environments to share resources with their community partner schools.
The vision for the academy is to provide opportunities for enrichment in English, Mathematics, Accounting and Physical Science education.
Roedean partners with Barnato Park High School
The academy, which started with 20 girls, now offers 100 girls from Barnato Park High School in Johannesburg the benefits of additional tuition in Mathematics, English, Science and Accounting.
The academy operates daily for grade 8–12 girls. The girls come to Roedean School on various afternoons and are given extra tuition by Roedean staff. In addition to academic tuition, our academy girls are given a hot lunch at Roedean, have full use of the Roedean library, have time scheduled for them in the computer laboratories and go on a termly excursion.
Since 2009, the results of the academy girls have steadily improved and our 2015 matric results reflected a 100% pass rate and an 83% Bachelor degree rate.
Our programme instils confidence in our girls and whilst our primary aim is the additional education for our pupils to improve their results as they study the national curriculum statements (NCS),1 we also like to expose them to a wider range of opportunities and experiences and to equip them with skills needed in the current workplace.
A change of pace
Two such opportunities were camps to which we were able to take the girls. In April, 40 very excited Grade 10 and 11 girls boarded the bus to attend a three-day leadership camp at Spirit of Adventure.2Whilst many children take such adventure camps for granted, this one provided many firsts for our girls, who live in difficult and often overcrowded city conditions. For three days, the girls built go-karts, did abseiling, rock climbing and obstacle courses, and enjoyed the beautiful outdoors. It was a life-changing experience for so many as they learnt so much about themselves and conquered many fears.
On 26 June 2016, 16 Roedean Academy Grade 12 girls and 20 St John’s Academy Grade 12 boys embarked on a five-day study skills camp at Maretlwane Outdoor Campus in the Magaliesberg. This camp is structured around the pupils receiving intensive lessons in English, Mathematics, Science and Accounting by St John’s College (based in Houghton, Johannesburg) and Roedean staff. Together with the organised studying, the students also hike and enjoy some traditional camp activities. On the first three days, additional lessons are held daily, so it is an intensive studying time where the pupils learn, revise and practise their various subjects. On the remaining two days, extra lessons are interspersed with camp
activities. This camp is vital for their final preparation for their matric examinations.
As a global member of Round Square,3 a worldwide network of 160 schools in 40 countries that share a holistic approach to learning built around six ideals of learning, in 2016, Roedean School (SA) hosted the Round Square Africa Regional Conference for 14- to 15-year-olds. Round Square delegates from schools from all over Africa came to Roedean. The conference theme was “Tagging Tomorrow Together”, and it focused on many aspects including leadership, service, educational events, adventure and discussions. Michaela Welcome, a Grade 9 student from Barnato Park High School and a member of the Roedean Academy, joined the Roedean team and attended the conference. She, along with other Roedean girls, spent an incredible five days at the conference, coming away inspired, excited and motivated by this wonderful opportunity.
Another such opportunity for the academy was that we received sponsorship for 30 of our girls to attend a St John’s Ambulance Level 1 first aid course.4 The girls were so enriched by this course. They learned new skills, learned about themselves and learned how to help others. We now have 30 trained Level 1 first aid officers at the academy.
We have employed a counsellor at the academy. Through her counselling, she has picked up certain threads of need and in line with these threads, we have also added life skills training to our programme. On two Saturdays per term, the grade 10–12 academy girls come to Roedean and our counsellor teaches them about various life skills. The girls have been finding this extremely helpful. In term 1, they covered the topics of study skills and stress management, and in term 2, they covered effective communication and dealing with grief.
With the building of five new science laboratories at Roedean last year, Roedean Academy pupils are now able to enjoy their lessons using state-of-the-art equipment. Special practical workshops provide an opportunity for pupils to experience the kind of facilities that their schools currently do not enjoy. Feeling like proper scientists in their white coats, the girls can enjoy seeing the reality of what they learn in theory. Science becomes a living subject!.
Increasing the chances for success
Since 2013, Bidvest Bank5 has sponsored our top academy matric pupil to attend university. Sibongile Zwane (matric 2012) was our first graduate from the academy, receiving a BSc degree in Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at the end of 2015. Angella Themba (matric 2013) is due to complete her Actuarial Science degree at the end of this year. An exciting future awaits both these girls. With regard to tertiary education, we do try and source tertiary opportunities for all of our girls, and we have a number of past pupils at university or doing teacher internships or doing business learnerships.
Roedean School (SA) is proud of the academy. The girls are dedicated and hardworking, and we hope that the knowledge and opportunities that we are able to impart into their lives can be a springboard for further success. We are grateful to our corporate sponsors and the Roedean community for their generous support. One academy girl, however, said it best: “I sincerely thank you for the love and care in building a firm foundation for my future. The academy has opened my eyes to view the world positively.”
1. See, for example: http://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/National CurriculumStatementsGradesR-12.aspx.
2. See: http://www.spiritofadventure.co.za/site/home.
3. See: https://www.roundsquare.org/.
4. See: http://www.stjohn.org.za/.
5. See: https://www.bidvestbank.co.za/.
Category: Summer 2016