ASPIRATION IN ACTION
In 2022 the Somerset College Saturday School was launched and provided support to 23 Grade 12 learners from Nomzamo High School. Formalized support entailed lessons, assessment and feedback in English, Mathematics and Science at the Somerset College Campus, with books, stationery, food and transport included. The attendance rate across the year’s programme was 90%.
Close cooperation between the Somerset College Saturday School and partner high schools is fundamental to success. The high attendance rate indicates that students value the programme with transport, food, baseline and regular follow-up assessments, checks for understanding and guided examination preparation being key elements of value.
Focus for 2023
This year (2023) we are working with 62 learners (31 Grade 11s and 31 Grade 12s) drawn from Nomzamo, Gordon High and Simanyeni High Schools. These learners applied to the programme and were accepted based on their sound school records for Mathematics and Physical Science.
We are again offering English, Mathematics and Science but also added Life Sciences to our programme this year. We trust that this additional subject will broaden the scope for learners to improve their performance in the sciences and their overall aggregates.
We also brought a new initiative to our programme this term where we enjoyed skills- and team-building extra-curricular activities with the students. We started the day with a group activity presented by Drum Café where students had the opportunity to learn a number of drumming and tube percussion skills. After that they divided into focus groups where some learnt to play the marimba, some executed Science experiments, one group learned basic coding and flew Arduino drones while a number of students who had selected the catering and food science option prepared the lunch-time sit-down meal for the entire team to enjoy together. It was clear that the students enjoyed this and the social interaction proved to be inspiring and galvanizing. We will be repeating this style of offering once a term to ensure that our students develop a sense of belonging together, belonging on our campus and belonging to a legacy.
Current Sponsors and partners
The Answer Series study materials
Kap Industrial Holdings
Long term plans
Addressing students’ past and future:
Our long term plans are to continue to support the schools in our charge and to grow our offering in line with their needs and our capabilities. Part of this growth is not only extending the teachability of our students and helping to provide them with access into further fields of study. It is also about supporting them in forging pathways to the next stage of their education -thus, helping them look to the future. It must thus also be about extending our support into providing redress for the past - to help ensure that, where we can make a difference, the lapses in early childhood education, which have led to so many South African youth not being able to look ahead, are addressed.
To this end, a needs assessment for local informal/under-resourced ECD schools and child-minding services should be conducted ahead of a response programme for launch in the future. This could involve moving informal day care and under-resourced Early Childhood Development schools to a well-resourced centrally located campus.
The Saturday School programme, if it can be extended beyond our current offering, has the potential to decisively and sustainably lift the Cape Winelands district’s scholastic performance by improving base pass rates, Bachelor Degree pass rates and learners’ access to and successful completion of university courses, whilst making a contribution to addressing the teacher retirement wave and the paucity of adequate ECD care in the Helderberg Basin. Furthermore, the model’s success will hopefully open up opportunities for replication in other areas of the Western Cape and South Africa.