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Adding remedial to the fold: King David Ariel

| November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Sally Ann Knowles, principal of King David Ariel, which is set to open in January 2018, talks to Independent Education

1. Why has King David Schools decided to open King David Ariel?

The South African Board of Jewish Education1 makes decisions guided by three key areas of focus: community, excellence and sustainability. At times, these three elements create a paradox of sorts, yet in this case, with the
establishing of a Jewish remedial school, all three came together. King David Schools has offered quality education for almost 70 years, yet have not expanded this offering to all Jewish children. With the opening of King David Ariel, we will broaden our excellence to more students in the community, offering all round excellence. At the same time, we believe that it will contribute to the sustainability of the other 10 King David schools.

Although there are well-established remedial schools in our country for children with special needs and those who face learning barriers, there are too few of them in South Africa. Many more of our children today are experiencing barriers to learning, which range from emotional difficulties (anxiety, trauma) to learning difficulties (dyslexia, processing). These presenting barriers hinder an individual’s learning. In a mainstream school, these individual needs are often overlooked due to class size and the volume of curriculum content; thus, learners experiencing barriers to learning often fall behind, thereby exacerbating their “barrier” at the cost of their selfesteem.
This need led to the creation of King David Ariel, wherein learners who have the ability to master a mainstream
curriculum but whose barriers are hindering their optimal functioning and school performance, are given the opportunity to continue with the mainstream curriculum, together with the necessary support and individualised accommodations to reach their full learning potential.

2. Why is it called King David Ariel

The word “Ariel” is made up of two meaningful words. “Ari” is the Hebrew word for lion. We want our pupils to exhibit courage and the tenacious desire to succeed. “El” is one of G-d’s names and indicates strength. We are going to draw on our Jewish heritage to build a strong and caring learning community.

3. What is your background?

I have a Bachelor of Primary Education from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)2 and a Diploma in Early Childhood Development. I have taught in the preschool, foundation phase and senior primary phases during my teaching career. I have also completed the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA)/Southern African Heads of Independent Schools Association (SAHISA) Leadership Development Programme at Wits Business School.3 I have taught at various prep schools and remedial schools over the years, including a 16-year tenure at St David’s Marist, Inanda, in Johannesburg, where I was director of the foundation phase and then preparatory school deputy head. I have a particular interest in the diagnoses and implementation of early intervention strategies for those pupils whose learning requires additional scaffolding and remediation. As the founding principal of King David Ariel, I am looking forward to serving the King David community with dedication and a commitment
to personalised learning and 21st century academic excellence.

4. Has a clinical director been appointed, and what is
her role?

Genevieve Sandler is our clinical director. She holds a master’s degree in educational psychology and has both remedial and mainstream school experience. She recently returned from Oxford in the United Kingdom after completing the latest neurodevelopmental Griffiths course.4 She believes in a holistic, collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to student wellness. She will work collaboratively with therapists, teachers and parents to ensure that all of our learners’ individual learning needs are assessed and met, so as to facilitate their ultimate reintegration to mainstream schools.

5. Why should a parent consider sending their child to
King David Ariel?

There are existing high-quality remedial schools. We respect their work and do not intend to detract from their contribution. King David Ariel aims to offer the highest-quality remedial education in the most appropriate Jewish environment. It will be located on the King David Victory Park (KDVP) campus in Johannesburg, Gauteng, alongside the existing primary school. There will be shared facilities, joint sports and, along with the study of Judaism, there will also be joint celebrations and commemorations. Thus, we offer our pupils the benefits offered by both remedial and mainstream King David schooling, all on one campus, with the same ethos, identity, uniform, school calendar and sense of belonging.

6. What grades will King David Ariel offer?

We intend starting in January 2018 with grades 1–3, one class per grade, with a maximum of 15 children per class. That said, if there are enough applicants, we will add a second class, but do not intend to go beyond two classes per grade. The school’s intention is to assist students to mainstream back to the various King David schools as soon as they are ready to do so, with the guidance and direction of the best possible remedial teachers and therapists.

7. What therapies and support structures will be offered,
and will they be in school hours?

All therapies will be offered as part of the school day, such as neurodevelopment treatment physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and remedial therapy. All interventions will be under the direction of both myself and Genevieve Sandler, and we will look after each child and their needs with a full team of professionals caring for each child.

8. What kind of facilities will the school have?

The school will be equipped with an initial eight modern classrooms, office spaces and a therapy centre, which will
include a fully equipped Snoezelen room.5 There will also be shared KDVP spaces such as the media centre, art room, music room, computer laboratories, hall and all sporting facilities. We will offer additional extramural activities over and above those we share.

9. What makes the King David remedial programme stand out from other such programmes?

Our specially designed curriculum aims to accommodate each learner’s needs through differentiated teaching and small classes, and it will be aligned to the curriculum followed by our fellow King David schools, thus facilitating a smooth transition to mainstream learning. The teachers and therapists will work collaboratively, both in the classrooms and in the therapy centre, thus ensuring that each learner maximises their potential in a King David Ariel from other remedial schools is our intention to build the confidence, character and sense of community of each child with our specialised and shared resources and Jewish heritage, thereby ensuring successful mainstream reintegration. Students will celebrate festivals and be immersed in that special King David Jewish ethos that permeates the schools. Jewish studies and Hebrew will be taught in an appropriate manner at the right age, to facilitate a smoother transition to a mainstream environment.

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Category: Summer 2017

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