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Tips on designing an education system

This is an extract from an article written for ISASA:  If today we were to meet Martians freshly arriving on planet earth and looking for tips on designing their own education system, what would we suggest?

Dear Martians,

Welcome to Africa. We hope you had a wonderful flight. You will soon realize that South Africa is no place for sissies and to be in education has its day to day, term to term and year to year challenges. Let me start with a summary of the history of our school……

The History behind Vista Junior Academy in a nutshell

Vista Junior Academy in Bloemfontein, in the Free State, is the actualization of a long-standing dream for 82-year-old Koos Engelbrecht, the founder and father of Edulife’s very first school, Academy of Excellence.

Vista Junior Academy opened in 2016 with one classroom, two teachers and three learners. Today the school consists of 20 classrooms, 23 teachers, 1 intern and 517 learners.

……Sounds easy right? No, to be where our school is today, took many hours of planning, sweat and commitment from management, teachers and support staff.

Vista Junior Academy is a growing school and Martians, take note: a growing school has growing pains.

Some of these pains may be numbers of learners, budget, financing, parents, requests and working with people, (different personalities, cultures, religions) but don’t worry, I am just naming a few. The list continues. This leads us to your question….

“How is your school adapting its practices to remain both relevant and sustainable while preparing young people for the future world of work?”

To refer to your question, a school in our opinion keeps on adapting because we work with learners, parents and teachers (people). We apply structures in departments of our school, and we adapt again if the people dynamics change. Example: If something works in the Intermediate Phase, it might not work in the Senior or FET Phase because the learners think differently about it. The SMT then sits and collaborates to see what we can adapt to keep moving forward with our learners in preparing them for their future.

If you are starting your own school, the most important fundamentals that work for us to keep moving forward are:

  1. Loving and committed teachers
  2. Equipping your teachers with what they need and giving them support
  3. Building relationships between parents and teachers
  4. A can-do attitude throughout your school
  5. Very important – “Win the learner’s heart, then you will win them for your subject”

We hope this can help you and guide you in your journey to start or build your own educational system.

If you are flying around the Bloemfontein area, you are more than welcome to come and do your teaching practical at our school.

Lovely meeting you dear Martians and all the best for the year.

Kind regards

Vista Junior Academy

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