By Aleska Winetzki and Alice Draper
Gadra’ game-changing Whistle Stop School (WSS) has opened a second site at Tantyi Primary School.
The school, launched in 2017 by Gadra Education in partnership with St Mary’s Development and Care Centre (DCC) and St Mary’s Primary School, targets literacy development for learners in Grade R, Grade 2 and Grade 4.
In 2017, the program targeted Grade 3 and Grade 6 learners who had a two-year and four-year literacy deficit respectively. For the Grade 3 learners, average reading ability caught up to the expected standard by the end of the year. Based on the success of the Grade 3 WSS initiative, St Mary’s school was able to add an additional teacher to their WSS team and they now have a teacher at Grade R, Grade 2 and Grade 4 level.
“The younger the students are, the more likely it is to have a bigger and more lasting impact,” said Kelly Long, a WSS teacher and coordinator for the Foundation for Literacy Programme.
The WSS offers learners literacy support by teaching students in groups of 12 according to their levels of literacy competence. These sessions are led by a teacher. Long believes that not having the constraints of the CAPS curriculum gives the teachers more space to focus on the needs of the learners.
“We meet the children where they are and work with them to catch them up to where they need to be. We are not doing this work because the teachers are not doing their jobs, we are doing this work because the teachers are working within the certain boundaries of the curriculum,” Long said.