QEF-affiliate schools receive R77 000 for bursaries

10 June 2019, Komani, South Africa: Another tranche of bursary money has been released to the Queenstown Education Foundation (QEF) by the Johannesburg-based Education Endowment Fund (EEF), assisting the Foundation to attract and retain exceptional talent to a number of its Komani-based affiliate schools. Before its name change in 2016, Komani was known as Queenstown.

R77 000 in total has been awarded for equal disbursement to seven applicants from different grades who applied for a QEF bursary through a number of QEF’s affiliated schools: Queenstown Girls’ High School, Queen’s College Boys’ High School, Hoërskool Hangklip High School , Laerskool Hangklip and Balmoral Girls’ Primary School. The awarded bursaries of R11 000 each cover a large portion of these learners’ school fees. Each come from disadvantaged backgrounds and holds a record of extra-ordinary academic performance.

The bursary scheme sits among various programmes that QEF, now in its sixth year, employs to systematically transform the Eastern Cape town of Komani, formerly known as Queenstown, into a universally recognised centre of educational excellence. QEF- affiliated schools offer their learners the opportunity to gain excellent education within their own community and upon graduation, these individuals become assets to the community that helped shaped them.

The EEF, a non-profit company, manages and distributes monies raised by, among other things, its fund raising event, the 1965Ride, an 850km cycle tour between Johannesburg and Komani. EEF’s aim is to support, enhance and develop education throughout South Africa, with the Komani / Queenstown region close to its heart. 

Update on QEF’s Overarching Digital Network

The dramatic impact on schools of the Covid19 lockdown, as well as the teething issues of launching QEF’s Overarching Digital (OA) network and server design has prompted Johan Bester and Stephan Coetzer, our IT Managers, to reassess our initial plans.

Research and Development

Ongoing research and re-design will always be part and parcel of our ensuring we have a robust, future proof network. But during the 1st phase of our OA Network deployment, we found bandwidth limitations between our schools and off site backup location to be a deterring factor in proceeding with the current Network roll-out plan. It has been challenging and exciting to reassess and totally redesign our network to stabilise it and fulfil our obligations to our subscriber schools.

Network Design

We are designing a modular system to ensure that we eliminate copying each school’s data as far as possible; rather moving it directly across to The Hub in the most cost efficient way possible. This should eliminate the challenges of transferring vast amounts of data through both the internet and intranet channels. We await the feedback from School Governing Bodies on our proposed Network upgrade.

Server Design

Experience has shown that finance servers and the Department of Basic Education’s SAM servers are vulnerable to hackers. Building a new Fin Server is therefore necessary. We have also secured the Bursars’ laptops of Stanford Lake College and Balmoral Girls’ Primary School by ensuring that logins happen directly through the dedicated Virtual Private Network (VPN).  The SAMS Server has been secured already for all schools, with the FIN server to follow.

Security

Privacy and security in a school environment is paramount. Staff and students need only see what they must. Bear in mind that we need to secure over a 1000 devices between our subscriber schools. We are therefore constantly evolving and eliminating the opportunity for security breaches to our Network.

During the Covid19 lockdown one of our schools got severely hacked to the extent that even our backup Google Drive was left encrypted.  In conclusion we now know that Google Drive is not sufficient as our schools’ primary backup solution. We have therefore re-designed our backup solution to eliminate threats. Most of the relevant equipment has been delivered and this new build will start today, June 15, 2020.

Training

With the need for teachers to deliver blended learning, many of our schools have opted for the Google Classroom platform.  We have been able to provided Girls’ High School, Balmoral Girls’ Primary School and Get Ahead Project Queenstown (soon to be trained) with training on how to use the platform for the exchange of files between teachers and learners.

Queenstown Principals’ Forum and QEF encouraged by District Director

Top row: Marieta Kilian (Queenstown Get Ahead Project), Pieter Steyn (Get Ahead College), Janse van der Ryst (Queen’s College Boys’ High School), Henco Serfontein (Laerskool Hangklip) and Albre Wagenaar ( Hoerskool Hangklip High School).
Middle row: Theo Anaxagoras (Queenstown Girls’ High School), Bianca Le Roux (Balmoral Girls’ Primary School), Marelise Bekker (Southbourne Primary School) and DD N. De Bruyn.
Third row: Bonnie Thomas (Whittlesea Get Ahead Project), Lester Pike ( Queen’s College Boys’ Primary School) and Mr Mooi [Gali Tembani (formerly JJ Serfontein High School)].
Apologies were given by Malcolm Lentoor (Hexagon High School) and Ena Smuts (Stepping Stone Primary School).

This week the Director of the Eastern Cape Department of Education’s (ECDoE’s) Chris Hani West District Mr N. De Bruyn, who governs 398 schools within his district and is well known for his strong no-nonsense leadership style, said he was excited by what he heard and saw of the Queenstown Education Foundation (QEF) and 11 of its affiliate schools’ principals, all members of the historic Queenstown Principals Forum, and encouraged them to intensify their struggle for quality education and put their town firmly on the map!

 The Forum includes both government and independent schools. At its informal event on Monday 18th November, the Forum’s Chairman Mr Lester Pike, offered Mr de Bruyn the Forum’s support as partners and allies in the quest for discipline and value-led education that he leads in the district. In turn the District Director encouraged all principals to go from strength to strength and move heaven and earth to involve more stakeholders, especially parents. He also challenged the Forum to look for ways to include Principals of under-resourced and dysfunctional schools, taking them under its wing.

Though no stranger to the all-round excellent achievements and facilities of the high functioning schools in his district, Mr De Bruyn heard from each principal about their ethos and efforts to become more inclusive. Many described programmes they have initiated to work with less privileged schools around them.

Mr N. De Bruyn, director of the Chris Hani West District was informed of QEF’s vision and current activities by its stakeholder relations manager Jacqueline Wijtenburg and warmly welcomed by Lester Pike, this year’s chairman of the Queenstown Principals’ Forum.

QEF’s stakeholder communication manager Jacqueline Wijtenburg briefed him on its overarching vision and current activities as it strives to create a universally-recognised centre of educational excellence in the country, driven by a nucleus of public and private schools, all intent on being agents for the development of our country’s future leadership.

In his closing remarks, Mr De Bruyn stressed that “Where you are struggling, stakeholders will move mountains. Schools belong to the community and where parents are involved, schools excel.”

He added that the district is not yet where it’s meant to be and especially noted how important it is for schools promote language efficiency.

“Let other schools learn from you. Intensify your struggle for quality education,” he concluded.

STEAM skills tested by QEF affiliate school Principals in QGAP’s Makerspace

A group of 20 principals and teachers from QEF’s affiliate schools in the Eastern Cape town of Komani sat side by side and had a bit of fun this afternoon in the Makerspace class of the Queenstown Get Ahead Project, learning first-hand just what it takes to enhance cross-curricular teaching – and learning – in one class, with STEAM subjects.

Read more about GAP’s Makerspace from our invitation to all QEF affiliate schools published last week.

The afternoon event was designed by Makerspace teacher Sarah-Lee Frewen and was intended by QEF to grow collaboration among QEF’s affiliate schools which are fast looking to each other for internationally-inspired but home-grown paedogogical methodologies to help their learners integrate the skills they need to navigate through the challenges and opportunities of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The delegates were tasked with building an elevated structure, in budget, that would use gravity to transport a marble. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths skills were needed by the delegates to complete the assignment against the clock.

The group of 20 people who attended included Mariette Visser, Executive Director of the Get Ahead Project schools, Pieter Steyn, Principal of GAP College and Bonnie Thomas, Principal of GAP Whittlesea. They were joined by other QEF-affiliate school principals Mr Janse van der Ryst of Queen’s College Boys’ High School, Mr Lester Pike of Queen’s College Boys’ Primary School and Mrs Bianca Le Roux of Balmoral Girls’ Primary School and Mr Henco Serfontein of Laerskool Hangklip. Teachers from Queenstown Girls’ High School and Southbourne Primary School, as well as Hoerskool Hangklip High School, also attended. A delegation from Khululeka, a non-profit organisation that specialises in resources and training in Early Childhood Development, also attended. Rounding off the guest list was Roderick Sutton, Chairman of QEF and Jacqueline Wijtenburg its General Manager. Last but not least was Allister van Schoor, Chair of QEF’s Digital Committee.

Feedback from all who participated was a good indication that the session was thought provoking and had presented a few ideas to play with. No doubt their relationships with one another were strengthened too.

Thank you QGAP for sharing your inspiration with us all!

Invitation to all QEF’s affiliate schools to visit GAP’s Makerspace on 26 Aug 2019

Educational institutes which intend to give their learners everything they need to thrive in our fast-paced 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), have begun creating innovative classrooms like Makerspace in Queenstown of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

A Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) educational curriculum has been developing in the international arena since 2002. Over the last three years, it has filtered into South Africa. Common STEM projects include, amongst others, bridge building and basic computer programming.  More recently, Art and Robotics have been included, giving rise to the acronym STREAM.

Last month Minister Angie Motshekga announced that her department of Basic Education has developed a Coding and Robotics curriculum for Grade R to Grade 3 learners as well as Grade 7s, which she says, will be in place in January 2020. However, as you know, the Computer Applications Technology (CAT) curriculum is currently only for Grades 10, 11 and 12. So how do schools bridge the gap?  

QEF has identified Queenstown Get Ahead Project’s (QGAP) Makerspace as an example of an effective enrichment programme.

We are excited to invite all heads of schools and interested teachers from QEF affiliate schools to visit QGAP’s innovative Makerspace class.  This is an opportunity for us to further develop and grow collaboration among our affiliate schools.   (Please see the attached invitation for Monday, 26 August between 14:30 – 15:30.)

Get Ahead Project embarked on their STEAM journey in 2016 and have done extensive professional development with their staff in order to equip their teachers with the necessary skills for technology integration and cross-curricular teaching. 

The Makerspace is a designated area where DIY meets education.  It is where students have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, both physical and virtual, and develop creative projects.  Playful learning helps students to make learning connections and solve real-world problems, providing context for their learning.

This space empower students, encouraging a shift from being passive consumers of knowledge and information to active creators and innovators.  The Makerspace offers authentic learning experiences connected to the real world, engaging students in the ‘big picture’.  The focus is not necessarily on the end product, but on the process involved during the design and construction phases. 

According to Makerspace teacher, Sarah-Lee Frewen, this innovative room has the following benefits to the students:

  • Embedding 21st Century skills, namely communication, collaboration, creative thinking, critical thinking and innovation
  • Facilitates learning across the curriculum
  • Playful learning
  • Builds confidence
  • Develops fine motor co-ordinator
  • Encourages calculated risk-taking
  • Activities encourage left and right brain integration

QEF recognises GAP as leading the field for how it has attracted interest and energy to their space and is delighted to make it possible for you to visit.

QEF DIGITAL MEMBER SCHOOLS are Queen’s College Boys’ High School, Queen’s College Boys’ Primary School, Queenstown Girls’ High School, Balmoral Girls’ Primary School and Laerskool Hangklip.

QEF AFFILIATE SCHOOLS include: Hoërskool Hangklip High School , Southbourne Primary School, Get Ahead Project, Get Ahead College, Get Ahead Project Whitlesea, Hexagon High School and Stepping Stone Primary School.

Queenstown schools invest in their educators’ continuing professional development

A 200-strong group of school leaders and teachers from 12 public and private schools of #Komani (formerly known as #Queenstown) gathered this week to invest in their Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

The gathering was arranged by the Queenstown Education Foundation NPC (#QEF) and is just one indicator demonstrating how it is building a universally-recognisable centre of educational excellence in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Each of the participating schools were invited by QEF to participate, due to their ongoing association with the Principal’s Forum.

CPD has been shown to increase teacher motivation, confidence and commitment. Learning new skills and applying them in the classroom leads to more stimulating and effective teaching environments.

Bizskills came on board in early 2019 as QEF’s trusted partner in presenting innovative SACE-accredited workshops to #QEF-affiliate schools, running them over three separate times of the year. These sessions run on 12 and 13 August covered the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Leadership and Influence and Communication Strategies. Five more sessions will follow later this year. The first two sessions of the year were run in March.

QEF’s Acting General Manager Jacqueline Wijtenburg with Bizskills presenters
Jacqueline Warner and Desmond Zeelie (left to right).

Four private schools participated, as well as nine public fee-paying schools of the ECDOE – Eastern Cape Department Of Education. These included Queen’s College Boys’ Primary SchoolQueen’s College Boys’ High SchoolQueenstown Girls’ High SchoolBalmoral Girls’ Primary SchoolGet Ahead CollegeGet Ahead ProjectGet Ahead Project WhittleseaLaerskool HangklipHoërskool Hangklip High SchoolSouthbourne Primary School, QueenstownStepping Stone Junior School and Hexagon High School.

Queen’s College Boys’ Primary School hosted the large group of teachers in its spacious hall, well known for its architectural beauty. Another QEF-affiliated school will take a turn to host the next series.