St Stithians Online School
St Stithians College is a dynamic school and that means we are often in a state of change and transition. During lockdown, we went into partnership with the Valenture Institute to open the St Stithians Online School (SSOS). This was needed in the depths of the pandemic. However, as lockdown restrictions have eased, we have found it necessary to re-evaluate the financial growth and sustainability of the Online School.
As lockdown eased, the effects of macro drivers, impossible to predict became undeniable. The market emerged as challenging and our distinctive, elite educational offering, increasingly affordable only to the economic sector already in a position to choose the best of the best, is competing for a micro-niche of that market. Market research indicates a similar trend in other online schools who are offering their schooling at fees more than R40K per annum. The trend seems to be that parents who can afford private schooling at this price and above are, by and large, reverting to on-site education.
This leaves a very large group of online schools competing for a shrinking market share of students for whom online learning might be a first choice. Currently, as we operate in such a niche market, the existing St Stithians Online School model does not appear to be sustainable and is no longer in the best interests of the College or the Valenture Institute, so using the solutions mindset that is synonymous with St Stithians, we are going to reposition the SSOS to serve where the need is greatest at the moment; within our already existing community engagement initiatives with a special focus on the Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy. This means that we will retain and be able to make use of the excellent innovative work that has already been implemented. We will use a phased approach to ensure that all current students’ learning pathways remain intact, therefore the existing Online School will operate until June 2023.
The online school has led us to a bigger initiative, and we have been approached by the Gauteng Department of Education and the organisation ‘South Africa Day’, requesting our expertise and input in the work of contributing to community and nation building. This speaks to the core of who we are and will enable us to share the immense privilege that we have with students who would not previously have had access to our resources. It’s time to open the gates and open our hearts to One and All.