Regular readers of our blog will be aware of our English Lab Programme, which ran for five successful years at Ukhanyo Primary School. The programme was led by Jan O’Connor, with the help of many volunteers and school staff. We were desperately sad to say goodbye to Jan as she moved on to a new project in Jeffreys Bay just before Christmas, but that did not mean the end of our work in the English Lab.
The project is a teacher-centred, skills-transfer programme, which focused on the teaching staff at the school and how they can most effectively teach the learners English as a First Additional Language. We continue to provide the hub with activities for teachers and students to engage with. This now takes place in a warm, light, and spacious setting, thanks to a substantial refurbishment. We thank Neil and his skilful team at Time Out Creations who have done a wonderful job revamping the space and we are also very happy with our brand new curtains from A.C.G. Manufacturers. In addition the lab also has a new flooring and AV system.
We also have a new team in place to continue the work that Jan and her team began. We now welcome Katherine Smith and her classroom assistant Dolly. Katherine and Dolly have started the year by focusing on developing relationships with the Grade 3 teachers and supporting them in teaching English. They are also developing learning materials and resources to use in the new English Hub, along with turning the space into a fun and engaging, print-rich language centre.
Initially, mornings are focused on providing support for the Grade 3 teachers who have consistently demonstrated enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. In time, the Hub will offer support to the teachers of other grades as well as supporting the long running MasiFunde reading project. This programme currently focuses on supporting 140 Grade 4 learners. Jane Futter and her team of volunteers work with small groups of struggling readers to improve their reading skills and thereby building their confidence.
In addition, in the second term the Hub will be open on specified days from the end of the school day until 16:00 for learners to participate in reading activities, art, music etc. This “After school” programme, will be facilitated by Dolly and will initially be open to eager Grade 5s and interested teachers.
At the time of writing we are just waiting for the new furniture to arrive, but as you can see this has not stopped the eager learners from getting involved. Much of the teaching equipment seen here has been provided thanks to our ongoing relationship with Cape Town based tour operator Absolut Tours through the Pack With A Purpose programme. In addition we also received a generous donation from UK sponsors for books and teaching materials in memory of a wife and mother.
Our thanks to everyone who has helped us to continue providing this support to Ukhanyo School – from our teaching volunteers to the tradesmen who have renovated the facility and of course the many generous donors that have made this project possible.