Tomorrow’s People Schools joins ISASA

| November 4, 2013 | 0 Comments

Zelna Botes doesn’t like labelling children according to ability.

Her early career as a speech therapist developed in her a conviction that “many children could function fully if they were exposed to the right mixture of love, therapy and education. “I wanted to establish a mainstream facility where young learners with specific learning challenges and ‘mainstream’ learners could happily co-mingle.” She even had the perfect name in mind that would reflect the diversity of such a learning environment – Tomorrow’s People (TP).

Rapid growth

A figurative tomorrow may be when these young people find their place in society, but institutions that cater for their specific education needs are urgently needed today. Rapid growth characterised TP’s early existence. In 1996, the pre-primary school opened its rented doors for the first time with one teacher, one speech therapist, one occupational therapist and four children. Soon, additional premises opened in Faerie Glen, Pretoria and on the grounds of the University of Pretoria, with Botes at the helm as both principal and executive manager.

Botes’ team then introduced the Intersen Phase1 and, in 2013, further development means that the senior phase provides education up to Grade 9. “2016 will thus be a special year, when our first Grade 12 learners graduate from Tomorrow’s People Independent Schools. We now have 337 registered learners, 24 teachers, 12 assistant teachers and a vice principal.” TP is ideally located to service the needs of many families, conveniently situated in a suburb near the commercial hub of many feeder routes and alongside several well-known, quality, large Afrikaans public schools. Children also travel daily from as far away as Midrand to access TP’s services.

Doing it all the proper way

Many schools do not take cognisance of the families of the children they teach, says Botes. “Family dynamics may change, ethnicity and background circumstances provide crucial information and parents may have distorted expectations of their children’s abilities. It is therefore important that our teachers have a complete understanding of the diverse profiles of the children they teach.

“Each educator undergoes extensive early childhood teacher preparation programmes, which provide our learners with the life skills they will need for their future lives.” Like many other schools, accommodating rapidly growing student numbers was a challenge for the TP team. “We have had to act in faith to acquire property and enough staff and teaching resources to remain a leading provider of quality education,” says Botes. The flip side? “Every new phase we introduced was a tangible symbol of growth, and significant moments always come when a child who has struggled reaches a measurable milestones in his or her progress.”

Support from ISASA

Another milestone was joining ISASA. It was a priority, says Botes, because “ISASA is the largest independent schools association in southern Africa, and it requires all its member schools to provide quality, value-based education”.

Earlier this year, TP was ready to join, and Botes stresses that ISASA representatives were informative and helpful at every juncture. “The initial step was for us to complete a detailed and comprehensive application. Once this was complete and submitted to ISASA, there followed an accreditation visit, after which time a report on the school was written and membership recommended and submitted to the relevant ISASA committee, and then to the ISASA Council for final approval.”

Botes feels more secure now that TP is in the ISASA fold. “Being part of an independent school association of this size open us up to a wealth of local and global information, and provides us with access to seminars and conferences as well as the benefits of legal expertise and representation on our behalf at government level.”

A future filled with bright tomorrows

ISASA also, of course, protects TP’s right to be independent. To Botes, this means that “in collaboration with our school community, we are able to set our own strategic directions. We operate with autonomy, and are able to select staff, approve leave, manage our own financial affairs, set our own school development year programmes, determine the curriculum that best supports our learners’ needs, as well as manage school operations ourselves. “We have our sights firmly set on tomorrow.”

Reference:

1. The word ‘Intersen’ is coined from the combination of intermediate (Grade 4–6) and senior (Grade 7). These grades bridge the years between the foundation phase and senior school.

Source:

http://www.standrews.co.za/juniorschool/IntersenPhase.html.

Category: Summer 2013

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