| October 14, 2011 | 14 Comments

Nothing to do with a rabbit hole

By Karen Marx

Creston College in KwaZulu-Natal is a school that ranges from Grade 000 to Grade 12.

It’s also home to Wonderland Special Needs School, a school for physically and mentally challenged children who have conditions such as autism spectrum, Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy. Housed in a wooden wendy house facing the playground of the Pre-Primary school, cheerfully painted and adorned with children’s artwork, Wonderland is a warm, caring environment where special teaching and learning takes place.

Tutton saw the need for a special school on the South Coast Wonderland is managed and owned by Angie Tutton, who began her extensive teaching career in Zimbabwe as a nursery school teacher, following in the footsteps of her mother. She taught at Margate Pre-school and, after relocating to Paddock, started up a nursery school there. However, the necessity for a special needs school on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal became evident to Tutton. Shortly after Creston opened its gates, she wrote to all the schools on the South Coast from Hibberdene to Port Edward, asking them if they would consider a special needs school on their premises, and Creston College replied positively. The school opened with four learners in 2001.

Each day special

Today, 14 mentally or physically challenged learners attend Wonderland. Mondays are literature days, on which the ‘sound’ of the week is introduced. Tuesdays and Thursdays are Maths days, while on Wednesdays, pupils concentrate on reading. On Fridays, pupils write a spelling test and either visit the tuck shop or enjoy a baking day. Every week, Wonderland organises outdoor activities like speech therapy, gym and pottery, and sports such as swimming, hockey or soccer.

A number of the children come from the local orphanage. Ultimately, the aim of Wonderland is to mainstream some learners and to work toward social acceptance of the disabled pupils. The school follows home-schooling principles with a significant success rate, as the children progress at their own pace. Every day is a new experience for the children, for Tutton and her helpers. The greatest lesson that she has learned is patience, and the acceptance of parents and society who believe that nothing can be done for their children. Wonderland has proved them wrong!

Benefits of the partnership

How does this all benefit Creston College? The interaction of Pre-Primary and Junior Primary children with the children from Wonderland is essential to achieve an overall and holistic view of education encompassing all of society.

The partnership between Creston and Wonderland helps bridge the gap between mainstream learners and learners with special needs, as well as building the character of each potential leader in our school. The exchange of talent, materials and educational resources benefits all the children and the educators in the Junior Phases. The mainstream students learn tolerance, compassion, patience and an appreciation for their own health and abilities, as well as the confidence to look mentally or physically challenged people in the eye and enjoy a conversation with them.

Vision for the future

The school, Wonderland and the community as a whole share a common vision and a long-term commitment. The partnership will lead to the expansion of Wonderland and the fulfilment of the needs of all learners on the South Coast.

Tutton’s ambition for the future is to be able to increase the size of Wonderland to accommodate high school learners, teaching them life skills for their adult lives.

Karen Marx is a Grade 5 teacher at Creston College.

Category: Spring 2011

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Comments (14)

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  1. Shelley says:

    do you have a facility or similar closer to Amanzimtoti.
    my daughter, Catherine 6yrs old has down syndrome.
    her speech is pretty good but as she is very unsteady
    on her feet and STILL in nappies, I am unable to find
    suitable place to educate her. I really don’t want
    to put her on a bus and send to brown school in pinetown
    any ideas?

  2. Tracy seeger says:

    I am thinking of locating to Durban, but i need a place for my son to go to a special needs school. He is 6 and has Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is still not toilet trained.
    Thanking you
    Kind regards
    Tracy Seeger

  3. hazel says:

    Hi I have a 6yrs old daughter who’s diagnosed with down syndrome.I’m staying in demat close to klaarwater.she can talk walk even go to the toilet on her own I’m struggling to get a school for her please assist me please.

  4. beauty says:

    Do you still have space for Cp child; I would like him to start at wonderland school by February this year…and would like to know whetether you have transport from Gamalakhe for day scholers?
    Please send me in for ASAP

  5. Thembeka says:

    Looking for a special school around Durban for my 6 yr old disabled child he is not toilet trained please assist

  6. promise zandile cikwayo says:

    i have a 4 years child who has a problem with speech. next year 2018 she should start a grade r.

  7. sphokazi qadi says:

    i have a 7year old girl and she needs to be in school ASAP so please get back to me .she has cerable pulsy

  8. Sipha says:

    I am looking for children that have Down syndrome, she is 6 years and is partial toilet trained.

  9. Sipha says:

    I am looking for school for children that have down Syndrome, she is 6 years and is partial toilet trained

  10. Sibonginhlanhla Mahlobo says:

    I would like to know more about your school. I have a 3year old girl who has DS (down syndrome). She has never attended any school. I would like to know what is required if you take kids of her age. Do you do boarding? please also inform me in terms of school fees that are paid and how they are paid.

  11. Andrew says:

    I am looking for school for children that have autism..she is 9 years old still at creche am struggling to find school for her…she does everything on her own only speach and hyperactive

  12. Bev says:

    Good day
    I am looking for employment for my sons teacher who is relocating to Margate in June 2018. She is an excellent teacher and unfortunately we have to part ways. She is a special needs teacher. My son has been accepted into a main stream school in July 2018. Having love and a teacher who believes in your child makes a big difference in life. If you can assist or know of any other schools in the area it would be appreciated.

  13. sphokazi qadi says:

    Hi , my daughter is 8yrs now and has cp.she can talk and toilet trained but cant walk .

  14. Edelweiss Hugo says:

    I would appreciate more information about your school. Tuition, where are you located?

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