Schools in South Africa

Schools in South Africa

Below is a brief overview of some of the types of schools in South Africa.

What is a Government school?

Schools in SAGovernment schools are those schools funded in part by the state. They are managed by the principal, teachers and the school governing body, which is elected by the parents of the school. Government schools teach according to the national curriculum as set out by the National Department of Education. Schooling starts at Grade 0 (Also known as Grade R, the reception year), however, compulsory schooling starts at Grade 1 and runs through to Grade 12 (matric).
The educational approach is one of inclusive education and the curriculum (known as CAPS, the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement) aims to allow children to apply what they learn at school in a local context in ways that are meaningful to their own lives.

Government schools in South Africa differ greatly in terms of class sizes, school facilities and the extramural activities offered. The average class size is roughly 30 learners to one teacher.

What is an Independent (Private) school?

An Independent (Private) school is founded, owned, managed and financed by people or organisations other than the state. Independent schools in South Africa include some of the following types of school: community schools, religious schools, international schools, and schools offering an alternative approach to education. Independent schools are required to register with a provincial Department of Education, and comply with various regulations.
Classes in independent schools tend to be small, averaging from 16 to 25 learners to one teacher. The focus is on the individual child and the quality and high standard of the education offered.
Some private schools offer independent, internationally recognised exams, so children coming from these schools are accepted worldwide for further education.

What is a Montessori school?

Montessori education is based on the Montessori philosophy developed by Dr Maria Montessori, Italy’s first woman medical doctor and a pioneer in education in the early twentieth century.
A Montessori school recognises a child’s creativity and need for an environment that encourages this creativity. Music, art, storytelling, movement and drama are included in the Montessori programme.
Montessori aims to develop the whole child and children are given the responsibility of their actions and choices. They learn through observation, and learn and progress at their own pace choosing activities that interest them.
Classes are divided into four year age groups: Foundation Phase (2–6 years and 6–9 years), Intermediate Phase (9–12 years), Junior High School (12–15 years) and High School (15–18 years).

What is a Waldorf school?

Waldorf education was developed by the Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, in 1919. He designed a curriculum that focused on the developmental phases in childhood, and encouraged children’s creativity and use of imagination. A Waldorf school promotes the whole child and balances academic subjects with practical and artistic activities. All subjects are introduced through drama, music, dance, crafts and visual arts. Computers and digital media only feature as part of the curriculum in high school.
Waldorf education works in seven year cycles of child development. The approach used in the classroom is teacher-directed and the class teacher moves with his or her class right through primary school.

What is Home schooling?

Home schooling in South Africa is defined as “education at the learner’s home” and also “education within the family, where most of the teaching is provided by a family member (mom, dad, grandparents or older sibling)”. The home school system focuses on the individual child. The learning environment accommodates a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses, encouraging them to learn independently and at their own pace, through a stimulating and creative environment. To home-school your child you must apply to the head of the relevant provincial Department of Education and register your child for home schooling. The lessons you offer your child must fall within the basic compulsory phases of education as set out by the National Department of Education. You would also need to keep an ongoing record of your child’s coursework and progress.