Durban High School is collaborating with DigiCampus to launch Swales Online Academy, a contemporary educational platform, which will be ready to welcome fulltime students for the 2021 academic year.
Khanyiso Mbalane: Assistant Producer, DigiTV, DHS (at camera); Tony Pinheiro: Headmaster, DHS; Winston Owen: Business Development Manager, KZN DigiCentral; Lauren Jacquin: Business Head, Swales Online Academy (seated)
Operating out of Durban’s DHS campus, Swales Academy will be a co-ed institution offering CAPS curriculum-based online education for learners from Grades 4 to 9 who can study from the comfort of their own homes.
A team of experienced educationalists from DHS, working together with national online education specialists, DigiCampus, and independent consultants have jointly created a bespoke alternative to conventional teaching practices using technology to provide an inclusive and holistic approach to education.
After generations of offering a basic one-size-fits-all approach to education, changing circumstances has taught education innovators that successful education models can take on different forms depending on the needs, temperament, personality and proficiency of the learner. Many children flourish in a classroom environment; however, some children are better suited to studying autonomously in a manner and at a pace of their own choosing.
Established in 1866, DHS campus has, over the years, extended to include alternative educational approaches namely the Nonpareil Academy in 2018. This began exploring the modern approach of ‘autonomous learning’, which requires the learners to ‘manage’ their learning style. A facilitator and learner engage with the main concepts rather than the standard teacher only approach. This Academy covers two assessment programmes. The Cambridge International Assessment as well as an Extension of the Education Department’s syllabus. The Nonpareil Academy is designed for motivated and academically talented boys whose needs are not met adequately in the traditional high school setting.
Swales Academy is a natural progression of the Nonpareil approach adapted to an online environment using a variety of lesson types and structures to support learning. The online portal has been designed to teach students using videos, digital media and live lessons. Swales will be headed by online educational specialist, Lauren Jacquin supported by six top educators who will be employed to teach on a full-time basis at Swales.
“Covid has taught us many important life lessons,” considers DHS Head Master Tony Pinheiro. “One of them is the acceptance and viability of online education as a counterpoint for the tried and tested mainstream, classroom-based schooling model. Our experiences of responding to lockdown has affirmed our intuition that the educational landscape is ready for a home-based alternative. We have adapted what we have learned in our hugely successful Nonpareil Academy of integrated, blended learning, and taken it online.”
They currently cover grades 4-9 and use high standard assessments while taking a modern approach to exams and study. On offer is the CAPS Curriculum online subjects: Grades 4-6: English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Natural Science and Technology, Social Sciences, Life Skills. Grades 7-9: English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Natural Science, Social Sciences, Technology, Economic and Management Sciences, Sciences, Life Orientation and Creative Arts.
Through the DigiCampus network, Swales learners can access arts and culture, sports and extra-curricular programmes offered in approximately 50 schools countrywide (including DHS) to ensure that they benefit from peer engagement and social activity.
Grades 10-12 will be phased in annually from 2022.