School interview: Vista Nova
1. What is your school motto or ethos?
Vista Nova School strives to maximize the unique potential of learners with cerebral palsy and other special needs through the provision of appropriate educational and therapeutic services.
2. How long have you been involved at Vista Nova?
I taught at Vista Nova in the 1980’s, left to gain mainstream experience and returned as principal in 2007.
3. What are the requirements for children whose parents may want them to attend Vista Nova?
Our official profile is to accommodate children with Cerebral Palsy and Physical Disability. All our children must have some form of neurological impairment and be cognitively capable of accessing the National Curriculum.
We admit children from the age of 4, in our Pre-Primary class and children generally exit with their National Senior Certificate after Grade 12. Some children follow a different educational path and leave to attend a School of Skills at age 14, or a TVET College after Grade 9 or 10.
4. What is a typical day in the life of a child at Vista Nova?
Some children use school transport and their day could start as early as 06:30. Our school functions much the same as any other school, a routined, structured day where the individual needs of the children are taken into account in terms of their programme and environment.
Children receive tuition in smaller classes than at mainstream schools. They may leave the classroom for Learning Support or to attend Speech, Occupational of Physio- therapy. They may also need to see their psychologist for support and the school nurse for medication.
Our children are supported by Class Assistants and, in some cases of extremely high needs, by an individual facilitator.
We build physical activity and cultural opportunities into our school programme and instil universal values in our children through character education.
As we are not a community school, traditional after-school programmes are not well-supported, until the children reach our High School.
5. What accommodations/adaptation is available for children with learning difficulties?
Our classes are considerably smaller, so there is a greater opportunity for individual attention. We offer a range of assistive devices and alternative assessment strategies, and we adapt the curriculum, depending on the need of the child. The children benefit from the professional attention of a multi-disciplinary team throughout their schooling.
6. How are learners supported within the classroom?
We have a number of class assistants who support specific children with tasks such as packing bags, pasting in notes, writing down homework, organising possessions etc. These assistants also attend to a range of tasks for the teachers, so they can focus on their core responsibility, that of teaching.
Teachers accommodate the different learning styles and barriers of the children in their lesson presentation. Staff also differentiate to the extent “allowed” in terms of the curriculum.
7. What are the highlights of working at Vista Nova?
The vast range of successes we are privileged to witness, partnering with the majority of our parents for the benefit of their child, watching children who have only ever experienced failure and frustration blossom as learning begins to be accessible to them, knowing that you are playing a role in developing a child’s life and impacting on their future.
8. Do you have any advice for parents of children who are unsure of what school is best for their child?
There is no perfect school, or recipe for success. The journey is about what is best for an individual child, based on their unique needs, not on the “wants” of the parents.
Do your research, contact the school and request an appointment to visit/tour the school. We offer regular opportunities for this.
Base your decision on the advice of professionals who enjoy your respect.
9. How can people contact Vista Nova?
Primary: 021 689 5323 firstname.lastname@example.org
High: 021 531 7192 email@example.com