Educational philosophy

Academics

Curiosity and rigour are the two cornerstones upon which our academic principles and practices are built. Instructional design is tailored to preserve and increase our girls’ sense of wonder at the world around them, and simultaneously, to ensure that the core competencies of academic literacy and numeracy are deliberately pursued. We use a comprehensive, systematic yet fun-filled internationally acclaimed language and literacy, and spelling programme in which our teachers have been intensively trained. In Grades 3, 4 and 5, learning and teaching is mediated by class teachers, with the addition of specialist teachers for Music, Physical Education, Life-skills, Additional Languages, Art, and Design and Technology. In Grades 6 and 7, the curriculum delivery is more closely aligned with the Girls’ College, focusing on developing individual subject knowledge, skills and concepts. In addition to the direct instruction of Mathematics, English, isiZulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans, we offer Natural Sciences, Economic Management Sciences, Social Sciences, Art, Music, Design and Technology, Music and Physical Education in an integrated way.

In response to international trends in education, the Girls’ Preparatory has adopted guided Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) as our curriculum framework. We incorporate direct instruction, where necessary, into our instructional design to ensure that we do not lose sight of the continued development of subject specific academic proficiency, especially in Mathematics, English and Additional Languages.  IBL enables teachers to focus on conceptual learning which develops higher order problem solving skills, research skills, and so-called soft skills, such as empathy, communication, creativity, self-efficacy and resilience.  And, owing to its flexibility, IBL also enables our teachers to adapt the content so that the ongoing work of transformation in our country is realised through the curriculum which can easily be aligned with national requirements.

The integration of subjects is a particular focus for us and we vigorously pursue STEAM education as a critical outcome inspired by a desire to see women equally represented in STEAM related fields. Research suggests that STEAM education in the primary school years has a significant impact on girls continuing to pursue studies in the STEAM sector. Our Mobile Education and Learning Technology (MeLT) programme is delivered via Apple iOS and OSX platforms, and we continually upgrade our girls’ exposure to technology through coding, robotics, virtual reality, and the latest in Apple educational applications for teachers and students.

Our academic programme extends beyond the classroom and opportunities to encourage  curiosity and a growth mindset are a priority. Every grade participates in both day excursions, and overnight tours. Our Social and Emotional Learning curriculum and interactive synergy days with the Boys’ Preparatory support positive relationship building across grades.

The Girls’ Preparatory’s accreditation as a Thinking School means that all our teachers are continually trained in a repertoire of cutting-edge, brain friendly teaching techniques and strategies that foster higher order thinking and maximum engagement of all students in the classroom. In this way, teaching can be tailored to the range of individual learning needs of our girls. Our Academic Support department extends differentiated learning so that we are able to offer an even more intensive level of support or academic extension to individual learners, both in the classroom, and in after-hours teaching programmes.

Spirituality

As a Methodist School attendance in Chapel is required by all staff and pupils and we gather together for worship once a week. Our girls serve the school in preparing worship that is engaging and uplifting and enjoy participating in special events such as our Easter and Christmas plays and our annual Ascension Day Service which is held outdoors using our Labyrinth. Holy Communion is celebrated at the end of every term and the Methodist tradition is to openly invite and welcome everyone to the Table of the Lord.

Every morning starts with prayer and we ensure that assembly times are also expressive of our commitment to God through prayer and song.

Religious Education lessons are given in each class across every grade. The focus in these classes is to deepen a knowledge of God and foster faith in God. While lessons are given from a Christian frame of reference, other religions are often discussed and common ground is celebrated. Our Community Service endeavours are encouraged during Religious Education lessons as the Methodist Church places a strong emphasis on social upliftment and our mindfulness of those in need. Our girls have a wonderful opportunity to belong to Christian social groups that meet weekly and the focus is on how to live out our Christian faith in the world.

Leadership

At Girls’ Preparatory we believe that all our girls will lead at some stage in their lives and it is our philosophy to give every girl the opportunity to do so at school. This is learnt through practise based on the principles of servant leadership. It is a lifelong, continuous process of learning, affirming and demonstrating values that are embedded in our Saints Honour Code: Honour God, Honour Others, Honour Self. We create opportunities for all our girls lead their families, school and community through service. We teach leadership qualities formally through our curriculum and informally through all activities, allowing our girls to understand and further develop themselves. Our Grade 7 girls advance their skills through weekly leadership lessons, the rotation of committees and duties and the mentoring relationship with their Grade 3 buddy. Through this programme, we raise confident leaders who know themselves, can be themselves and make their contribution.

Round Square

Girls’ Preparatory is a Round Square member school which connects us to network of international schools and enhances our approach to character education. The Round Square IDEALS (Internationalism, Democracy, Environment, Adventure, Leadership and Service) are lived out through our Leadership and Community Engagement Programmes and our curriculum across all grades. This promotes self-reliance, compassion, understanding and tolerance of others. Through our association with this international organisation our Grade 7 girls are given an additional opportunity to participate in regional and international conferences. 

Community Engagement

Involvement in community engagement programmes and projects is an integral component of the holistic education offered at the Girls’ Preparatory. Our goal is to give each girl the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, animals and people, and to foster a culture of lifelong giving as she becomes an active global citizen. Grade 3 to 6 girls are exposed to a variety of partnerships. They plan regular visits and provide items that support the needs of that organisation. A percentage of all funds raised through civvies days is used for this purpose. Grade 7 girls are encouraged to build a relationship with an organisation of their choice in preparation for the expectations of community engagement in the Girls’ College. They need to commit to 12 hours of community service during the year. Girls’ Preparatory also undertake to assist the community through whole school and College initiatives.

Extramurals 

Extramurals at the Girls’ Preparatory aim to motivate and encourage girls to be active for at least 60 minutes a day and to sample our extensive sport and cultural programme. We offer a broad spectrum of choice and variety and strive to ensure that the girls find enjoyment and lasting satisfaction through participation in both physical and cultural activities. The Girls’ Preparatory caters for both the competitive student and the keen participator. In addition to our programme which increases the physical skills and fitness of each girl, we endeavour to create the opportunity for her to become disciplined, focused, committed, a valuable team member who is gracious in defeat and humble in success.

We follow the Long Term Athletic Development model, instilling a lifelong love of physical activity. This model advocates that the age and stage of a child’s development is taken into consideration in order to plan age appropriate lessons. We encourage students to sample a variety of different extramurals throughout the year.

Sports offered at a team and non-team level are: swimming, diving, tennis, squash, gymnastics, netball, hockey, athletics and equestrian. Development programmes are offered through our strength and conditioning and ball skills classes.


Music, art, drama and dance develop literacy in the creative arts through interaction and participation. This helps guide them as to which area of our cultural extramural programme bests suits their talent.

Cultural Activities offered are: Art Club, Chess, Craft Club, Creativity Club, Junior and Senior Choirs, Flute Ensemble, String Ensemble, Clarinet and Saxophone Ensemble, Junior and Senior Marimba Bands, Drama, Debating, Photography, JAM (Jesus and Me) and LOL (Love our Lord).

Individual tuition is offered in the following instruments: piano, flute, saxophone, clarinet, violin, cello, viola, recorder, voice, guitar and drums.

Performing Arts concerts are a highlight on the annual school calendar and range from informal concerts for peers to stage productions. Sport and cultural interhouse events are fiercely contested annually and demonstrate the energy and enthusiasm of the girls.

 

Conclusion

Our primary intention is to raise girls. We aim to be the leaders in girls’ education, with the focus on nurturing individual skills and dispositions to engage confidently and with a sense of purpose. The girls need to work within a values-based framework in order to make decisions with good intent. The South African context is diverse and dynamic. We raise girls to embrace their heritage and collaborate locally to make a significant contribution both nationally and internationally.