Sparrow Schools focuses on learners with learning difficulties from the ages of 7 to 18 years old. These learners, with "barriers to learning," are referred to Sparrow Schools by neighboring mainstream schools in Johannesburg.
Each learner is carefully assessed. Sparrow Schools has a team of specialists including: Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Social Workers, Teachers and Educational Psychologists (with remedial therapy expertise), as well as support from a number of local and overseas volunteers. The learners’ needs are typically linked to ADHD, cognitive difficulties, and language delays. Tailored remedial learning packages are designed by the multidisciplinary team. Sparrow Schools has also aligned their curriculum and individualized approach to state education curriculum.
The goal is to offer an individualized approach that supports the learner in transitioning back into local mainstream schools. When this is not possible, the learners progress through the primary provision, into secondary, and onto vocational training, with access to employment opportunities. Life Skills and work-readiness are important in ensuring that learners have access to employment and levels of independence when they graduate. The Further Education Component (vocational) of the school offers SETA accredited courses in mechanics, cooking, sewing, welding, as well as in other topics. Sparrow School has developed links to various industries to create internship/apprenticeship opportunities with the ability to track learners once they have been employed.
The school takes on a systemic approach and understands that most of the learners are from a families that are experiencing extreme poverty or, in some cases, are from child-headed households. Therefore, there is an emphasis on learners’ emotional well-being that is weaved into learning packages with access to counseling, play therapy, and group sessions.
Parents are a critical component and are very involved in school plays, meetings, sports days, etc. The Social Work Team also assists where needed (access to grants, etc.). It is very important to the learners’ progress that there is consistency in both the classroom and the home. Parents are supported in the understanding of their children's needs, and the team shares techniques and tips with parents.
Sparrow Schools takes each learner's needs into account, with the end goal being independence through employment.
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Model details1989Not-for-profitComprehensive curriculumVocational/technical skillsActiveLong-term projectNkosi's HavenSparrow MinistriesSOS Children's VillagesFAMSAStamping GroundCAF SASANCA60%40%
BeneficiariesIndividuals with disabilitiesOrphans and vulnerable children
Neighboring schools in the Johannesburg area will refer learners with barriers to learning to Sparrow Schools. The school is an NGO that offers places to children from low income communities, with parents would otherwise not be able to afford the expertise of the multidisciplinary team.
ScaleThe classroom ration for pupil to teacher is 20:1.February, 2014
Monitoring & EvaluationYes
Sparrow Schools has its own assessment tools and can therefore track each learner based on individual needs. The school is also able to track alumni, with a particular interest in job retention and promotion.Standardized assessment performanceInternal assessment performanceGraduation or promotion ratesEmployment ratesTeacher attendanceStudent retentionCost effectiveness/value for moneyNoNo
In 2013, in the Foundation Phase, there were 294 learners. 263 learners passed onto the next grade, 30 repeated a year in specialized classes, and 1 was enrolled into a mainstream school.