School Interview: Tafelberg School
We had a wonderful time chatting with Mrs Lundie at Tafelberg School. This school is on board with inclusive education and is up to date with all relevant changes happening in education in South Africa. I was amazed by the sense of community and care throughout the school. It is truly a wonderful environment for any learner with a barrier to learning.
- What is your school motto or ethos?
Our school motto is “Nihil nimis difficile” and it translates to “Nothing is too difficult”. We are the school that cares, we care for each other, our community, teachers and ourselves. We try to emphasise this approach with all of our learners.
- How long have you been involved at Tafelberg School?
I have been working at Tafelberg School for about 14 years.
- What are the requirements for children whose parents may want them to attend Tafelberg School?
We do not take applications directly. They need to go through the education department, because we are a WCED school. A parent would need to apply through their child’s current school. The current school would need to assist with the application in the form of a motivation. Parents will receive a list of all documentation that is needed. Parents should include as much motivation as they can (teachers, after care teachers, other role-players in the child’s life) as well recent assessments that have been done. The whole application then goes through the District office, who review the applications. The school then has a panel discussion with the department and our psychologists to go through it again. From there we do have a waiting list for grade 3 /4 to 7 that is quite long. We usually take in learners in term 1 and 2.
- What is a typical day in the life of a child at Tafelberg School?
Although we accommodate learners from grades 1 -12, they do not mix on campus. The junior and intermediate phases have 30 minute periods and an additional library period once a week. From grade 4 – 6 they have a computer period once a week to help them to get the basic skills. One of the reasons for this is that they use Claro and Dragon (assistive technology software to help learners to read and write). On a Friday the foundation phase has an arts and culture period, where learners can decide if they want to do drama, choir or art. The foundation and intermediate phases have 2 breaks of 15 minutes each. The grade 1s and 2s finish school at 1:15pm and from grade 3 onwards, at 2:30pm. In the high school they have between 45 / 50 minute periods and they have one 30 minute break. Our high school starts in grade 7, because they are part of the senior phase. On a Monday, we have assembly for the juniors, where learners receive their star of the week awards. The seniors have assembly on a Tuesday and we have a whole school assembly once a term.
- Does the school offer any extra-murals?
Our school is big on soccer. We now have an U12, U14, U16 and an open team for the boys. We also have one girls’ soccer team. We recently started with a touch rugby team and our netball team had their first match on Saturday. Our learners love swimming and we have 5 aside courts. Our HOD of sport is currently setting up a league for 5 aside. So our extra-murals are growing. On a Friday, all learners take part in an extramural period from 1-2 pm. There are a variety of activities they can choose from such as soccer, walking clubs, health and fitness clubs, chess club, puzzle club, charity club or yoga. There is something for everyone!
- What accommodations/adaptation is available for children with learning difficulties?
Learners can be tested for alternative assessment methods. All learners are taught how to use Claro and Dragon, which is assistive technology software to help learners to read and write. Learners who need this accommodation may use it in assessments and tests. Within the classroom, teachers are encouraged to use differentiation in their teaching methods. We also do core notes, which are then available on audio. So in subjects like history it will provide a summary of the lesson. We encourage learners to make use of these audio notes. We are working towards accommodations being made use of not only during exams and assessments, but also during class. At the moment we offer Claro and for exams, many learners write in separate venues. We have done away with scribing, however in cases where learners cannot cope with the earphones, that is permitted as a special request.
- How are learners supported?
At the moment we have one contracted psychologist, one permanent psychologist and we have appointed an internal counsellor. We also have OT and physio facilities. We are a silent school, which means we do not have a school bell. We also make use of prompting and a very important part of supporting our learners is done through a thorough handover each year between teachers. Although we work according to CAPS, we move at a much slower pace. We focus on ensuring that all learners have grasped a concept before moving on to the next topic. We have two class assistants who are working in the foundation phase. We have someone who comes in three times a week and does a skills programme with learners and she assists us in identifying what types of learner each child is (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic). This gives us some guidelines on how to approach lessons and best support our learners. Every second Thursday, the staff attend a workshop on inclusive education where we learn how to practically implement inclusive education. We have a few learners who have facilitators, which the parents pay for themselves. For matrics, we have our winter school where we have the teachers come in for the first week. We have Saturday classes at times for the older learners and teachers offer extra lessons.
- What are the highlights of working at Tafelberg School?
I just love this school! I like seeing the learners and seeing how they progress, it’s just the most incredible thing. The staff are very supportive of each other and it’s a wonderful environment to work in.
- Do you have any advice for parents of children who are unsure of what school is best for their child?
I think to visit the schools, find out about their open days and to speak to a variety of parents to hear their experiences. Educate yourself in who your child is and what school will best support your child’s needs.
- How can people contact Tafelberg School?
Telephone Number: 021 558 2405
SMS Number: 084000 2280 13177
Fax Number: 021 558 8155