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Longer days, but less homework in 2021 at Northriding College

When schools re-open in 2021, Northriding College in Johannesburg will become one of Curro’s new DigiEd schools with a focus on a ‘technology-rich’ curriculum.

Acquired by private education group Curro Holdings in 2019, the school currently offers teaching from grade 000 to grade 9.

Curro said that its DigiEd approach provides a curriculum that focuses on mathematics, science, robotics and coding in addition to more traditional subjects. The curriculum has been adopted at only four other schools: Delft and Foreshore in Cape Town in 2019, as well as New Road and Jewel City in Gauteng in 2020.

As part of the curriculum, digital learning material is pre-prepared and will be instantly accessible to learners. Learners will have on-demand access to top-quality material, allowing them to move quickly through it if they understand it well, or to access it again if they need to spend more time on it.

“Although we were traditionally a NSC curriculum school, Curro’s DigiEd offering has become increasingly enticing, especially as we know we have to prepare our learners better to operate within the fourth industrial revolution,” said Joanne Quick, executive head of Northriding College.

Quick said that each learner has access to a dedicated computer at school, and in Northriding College’s case, a tablet.

She added that the school day is longer for these students (08h00 – 17h30), which means learners can finish all their work at school and go home without any homework.

“It also helps working parents because they can drop off the learners on their way to work, and pick them up afterwards, so it’s really convenient,” Quick said.

“The physical environment is also more flexible, since learners can work alone or in groups, be taught in classes where necessary, and can work in their own time and at their own pace with a flexible timetable.”

Teaching staff are also available throughout the school day to assist learners with questions or areas where they are struggling, she said.

Not doing away with traditional teaching

Quick said that the school is not completely doing away with traditional schooling, but rather augmenting it and making it future-fit – for the benefit of learners and their parents.

“The human element is absolutely still there as teachers are still physically on site to help,” she said.

“We are focusing on equipping our learners to be savvy – how to be entrepreneurially minded and have the right skillset to survive. One thing is very certain – they will have to be very comfortable with technology, which will require being more than just computer literate – skills like coding and robotics are essential.”

Quick added that the DigiEd curriculum and hybrid teaching model has many advantages. “It’s important to stress that this is not an online model – we are not replacing the teacher.

“In fact, there is a lot more relationship building this way, because the teachers interact so much more with the learners as they move around,” she said.