Alta du Toit School was established 55 years ago to provide access to education to severely intellectually disabled learners in high need of support. The mission of the school is to develop each child and staff member to their full potential. Through curriculum delivery of 80% practical work and 20% theory, learners are taught life skills to assist them in integrating successfully into society. The school is supported by three key pillars, namely Life skills, Sport and cultural events.
Alta du Toit School provides a supportive and enriching environment where each learners potential is developed and the growth of each staff member is encouraged.
Cultural events are supported and celebrated with care. The school is proud to have a marimba band and a clown program. These programs aim to train youth in townships to start marimba bands to keep them off the streets and integrate them into society while providing an opportunity to earn an income.
At Alta du Toit School or classes are organized into 4 phases: the junior phase, the intermediate phase, the senior phase and the vocational phase. A learner may remain in a certain phase for two to three years but will be placed with different teachers within that phase. Emotional development, as well as the age and the level of progress that has been reached, will be considered before a learner is promoted to the next phase.
In the Foundation Phase, our learners are encouraged to be creative and imaginative by engaging in lots of free play and practical activities like art and music. Their key learning outcomes include:
Our curriculum ensures that our classrooms and teachers are able to implement inclusivity, as the curriculum can be used in such a manner that the needs and developmental skills of each child is accommodated within the classroom. In our phase we start looking at the practical skills required for Senior and Occupational phase. We build on the foundation that was done by our colleagues in the Foundation Phase.
We look at functional scholastic skills e.g. working on a calculator, identifying names of places /shops, being independent in self-care.
It is important that we prepare our learners for independence at home and in the world that awaits.
We have Grade 3 learners, according to the DCAPS curriculum. Two weekly themes guide us in planning, keeping 80% of activities practical. Our learners enjoy practical work instead of paper exercises, and we see better results in the prosecution of activities during practical work like packaging, gardening, consumer studies (basic kitchen safety and hygiene) and recycling, naming a few. Assessment is done by using the PACE app, an app that was designed for our school and schools with similar learners.
HOW DO LEARNERS COPE AND HOW DO YOU ADAPT THE CURRICULUM TO THE BENEFIT OF OUR LEARNERS?
In the senior phase, it depends entirely on the level of functionality, ability and capability of the learner. Some learner’s find it easier to master content than others. Each child is unique in his/her acceptance of and coping with the curriculum. It also depends on the subject and the teacher’s attitude and enthusiasm to the execution of his/her content. To use Consumer Studies as an example. The assessment criteria and what is expected of learners is often way above what some learners are sometimes capable of. The teacher then went and looked at basic life skills of what is needed for the child to be more or less self-sufficient where safety and hygiene, general life- and also fine motor skills specifically are concerned. The Consumer Studies curriculum was then adapted so that even the learner with the weakest of the afore-mentioned skills can benefit.
In the Senior Phase, we try to be as integrative as possible. All the subjects are interconnected. We try to hone skills that should be encouraged at home, where parents should be the supervisory safety net our learners so direly need. This applies specifically where our electives are concerned. The curriculum still puts too much emphasis on bookwork whereas we encourage a much more practical approach, which will stand our learners in good stead later in their lives.
Occupational / Vocational Phase
In this phase, the focus is mainly on the development of acquired skills to ensure that our learners, as far as possible, will be equipped with the necessary skills to lead an independent life within his/her own ability. Self-care in all areas is one of main criteria for aftercare and protected workshops environment.
We work closely with our occupational therapist: Job Shadowing is arranged and monitored for learners who has the ability to apply specific skills as required. We have learners on a weekly basis attending certain venues where they gain exposure to a variety of work environments.
Our principal has developed an application, Jobjack, where people with barriers can register and see what openings are available and apply
Self-Reliance-, Social- and Life Skills
Effective Communication (language skills or sign language)
Optimum Motor and Perceptual Skills
Awareness Of the Environment, Nature and Safety Measures
Execution Of Domestic Chores
Meaningful Recreation and Relaxation
A Simple Understanding of Religion
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