Curro Monaghan, operated by Curro Holdings, South Africa’s biggest independent school operator, will offer an assisted learning stream for learners with unique needs, alongside their current mainstream offering, as of January 2020.
Judy Wearne, Executive Head at Curro Monaghan, explains that the school’s approach is aimed at learners with an average to above average IQ, who require additional support in order to achieve expected competencies in the fundamental academic skills, literacy and numeracy. “Our aim is to equip learners with the required capabilities to ultimately return to a mainstream school within two to three years,” she says.
The new stream will initially only be offered to grade 2 – 4 learners. According to Wearne, there are windows of opportunity in learning. “The earlier a child is exposed to and understands academic concepts, the better chance they have to successfully learn and retain those concepts. If a child does not grasp the fundamentals of language and mathematics at the correct age, it may be difficult, less successful, or even impossible, to develop these functions later in life. The quality of teaching and learning in grade 2 - 4 is especially of vital importance.”
The decision to launch this additional stream, alongside the school’s current mainstream offering, stems from Curro’s mission to offer a broader range of education options to children and parents. “We recognise that learners do not all learn in the same way and we want to tailor our offerings to give every child access to a quality education. This means providing different types of learning strategies, all within a nurturing environment.”
Wearne notes that assisted learning is different to remedial education. Whereas remedial education is largely a tailored study path aimed at working on the specific difficulties experienced by an individual learner, assisted learning allows a learner to still follow a traditional curriculum while assistance is offered within a smaller classroom environment. In other words, all children in the classroom will be studying the same content, as happens in mainstream schools, but extra attention is offered to each learner as a result of the smaller class numbers. At Curro Monaghan, the teacher to learner ratio will be around 12:1 in the assisted learning stream.
This specific learning stream also focuses on auditory, visual and kinaesthetic (physical movement) stimuli using a practical, hands-on approach within small groups, which helps to instil learner confidence. As with the mainstream schooling approach, Curro Monaghan’s learners will have access to the full complement of sporting, cultural and social programmes on offer.
“Assisted learning is ideal for learners of average to above average ability who have specific barriers to learning, such as those with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, anxiety disorders, and so on,” says Wearne. “Assisted learning helps children who benefit from a smaller, more individualised learning environment, where they can get the support they need and not risk falling behind their classmates. These learners can still progress to grade 12 and write the national matric exams with the necessary support and concessions provided by the Education Department and the school.”
Assisted learning benefits learners beyond academic support. It also helps them to build up self-esteem, which is an essential tool for navigating school. For learners who require additional support, mainstream school environments – even those offering bridging classes – can be tough if they are made to feel different to their peers and can be subjected to bullying. Assisted learning streams can help learners to work at their own pace until they are equipped to cope in the mainstream environment.
Curro works with parents, educational psychologists, and occupational, speech and remedial therapists to ascertain whether or not assisted learning is the best option for each child. Curro Monaghan has access to multidisciplinary therapy teams to meet the needs of all learners; such as therapy rooms and on-site equipment for therapists to work with groups.
Curro believes that a broad spectrum of educational models is required to meet the needs of South African families. The new assisted learning stream at Curro Monaghan will be the second Curro school to offer this kind of support to learners (alongside Dot’s Learning Centre in Cape Town), and Wearne says the staff are looking forward to seeing the many children who pass through Curro Monaghan develop to their full potential.
For more information about Curro Monaghan, email [email protected] or contact 087 285 4760. School tours available every Tuesday and Thursday between 09:00 - 11:00.