1200 learners stay on top of trends
Approximately 1200 learners in Sun Valley are benefiting from high levels of professional development and training to remain on the cutting edge of international trends.
The Sun Valley Group of Schools consists of Sunbird Private Pre-Primary School, Sun Valley Primary School and Silvermine Academy High School.
“Silvermine Academy is the name of our NPO, which we branded ‘The business behind public schooling’, and allows us to up the standard of our school to be greater than a standard public school. The money is put into attaining the very best educators, top quality facilities, high level of professional development and training, as well as creating positive, exciting learning spaces for the learners,” says Bradley Keller, deputy principal of the Sun Valley Group of Schools.
Sunbird Pre-Primary has 125 learners, Sun Valley Primary 900 and Silvermine High School 120. The staffing is near to 180 employees and management says they work incredibly hard.
“Our school is based on four pillars and they exemplify what we are all about. They are: iLearn, iPlay, iConnect and iCare. The learning is through experience, modern techniques and regular staff development. All Grade 4 to 7 learners work on a one-to-one iPad system where students use these devices for research, presentations, artwork, creating their own films and more,” says Keller.
A 10-year-old in Grade 4 can only sit still fully engaged for 10 minutes and the school provides opportunities for movement, sport, dance and activity in every single lesson.
“We run a high-powered, competitive and fun sport programme where there is something for everyone. The sport programme runs from 14:30 to 18:00 every day, and runs on a Saturday until 13:00. We attend 10 sport tours across the country per year. The iPlay arm also involves our Silvermine Music Academy, which involves over 350 top-class musicians who practise weekly and perform at regular concerts and events,” he says.
They also have a choir named the Valley Vocals who tour to George to take part in the National Choir Festival.
“Connection is key to learning. Emotional intelligence is far more important than IQ. We teach students to work together. Any Sun Valley learner who attends a high school interview is described as ‘head and shoulders above other 13-year-olds in their ability to connect and interact with adults’. We do this teaching by care circles, sitting in cooperative groups, Grade 1 to 7 family groups called Hoofies, which meet every week, sports teams and more.
“At Sun Valley Group of Schools there is no detention. We believe in a restorative, reflective discipline approach. Punitive measures such as detention simply teach a student to learn ‘how to not get caught’ rather than changing behaviour. Learners at Sun Valley work through their mistakes via a ‘reflection’ where they discuss the situation, why they acted that way, how their behaviour affected those around them, and how they would behave if they were in a similar situation again. This is done in both spoken and written form,” Keller says.
They place a strong emphasis on community service. Each grade (R to 12) participates in a service project every year. They believe in giving back to the community and partner with many NGOs and NPOs to assist those in need.