Thabile Duma

The Sycamore Tree Academy

What does your company do?

Our NPO is a school that provides personalised, holistic quality and affordable education to students from different cultural and academic backgrounds by sticking to the following principles: Individualised Attention: Smaller class sizes allow for more one-on-one interaction between teachers and students, fostering a tailored learning experience. Academic Excellence: A focus on high academic standards and a rigorous curriculum designed to challenge students and prepare them for future academic endeavours. Character Development: Emphasis on developing strong moral and ethical values, encouraging students to become responsible, respectful, and compassionate individuals. Community Building: Creating a close-knit community where students, teachers, and parents are actively engaged, fostering a supportive and inclusive environment. Extracurricular Opportunities: Offering a variety of extracurricular activities to help students explore interests and develop talents beyond the classroom. Lifelong Learning: Instilling a love for learning and critical thinking skills that will benefit students throughout their lives. These principles collectively strive to nurture well-rounded individuals equipped to succeed academically, socially, and personally.

What is your biggest success?

Our school started in 2020 with only 24 children now we are sitting at 120. That growth in a space of 4 years will minimum resources is impressive and we owe it all to the staff’s dedication and commitment. We have achieved a lot in the past few years.Here are some notable achievements: Academic Success High Academic Performance: Consistently achieving high scores on standardised tests and assessments, indicating strong foundational skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. Effective Literacy and Numeracy Programs: Successful implementation of programs that enhance literacy and numeracy, resulting in students demonstrating proficiency or excellence in these core areas. Student Development Holistic Education: Providing a well-rounded education that includes arts, music, physical education, and other subjects, ensuring the development of multiple intelligences. Character Education: Developing programs that foster social-emotional learning, empathy, and ethical behaviour, leading to well-behaved and compassionate students. Community Engagement Active Parent-Teacher Associations: Strong involvement of parents and guardians in school activities and decision-making processes, creating a supportive and engaged school community. Community Service Projects: Students participating in community service projects, instilling a sense of responsibility and connection to their community. Inclusivity and Equity Inclusive Practices: Successfully implementing inclusive education practices that cater to students with diverse learning needs, ensuring all children receive appropriate support. Cultural Celebrations: Regularly celebrating cultural diversity through events, festivals, and activities, fostering an inclusive and respectful school environment. Innovation and Technology Innovative Teaching Methods: Adoption of innovative and creative teaching methods that engage students and improve learning outcomes. Teacher and Staff Excellence Professional Development: Providing continuous professional development opportunities for teachers, leading to improved teaching practices and student outcomes. School Environment Positive School Culture: Creating a positive and nurturing school environment where students feel safe, respected, and motivated to learn. Low Absenteeism: Maintaining low absenteeism rates, indicating high levels of student engagement and satisfaction with the school environment. Environmental Stewardship Sustainability Initiatives: Implementing successful sustainability projects such as school recycling programs, nature and energy-saving lessons , teaching students about environmental responsibility. These achievements showcase our ability and potential to provide high-quality education, foster a supportive and inclusive community, and positively impact the lives of our students and the broader community.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Just like any schools our school has and is still facing a variety of challenges that has impacted the ability to provide a high-quality education we aiming for . Here are some issues faced by our school: Financial Constraints Non Payment of School Fees: Non-payment or late payment affects daily running of the school. Lack of Funding : Lack of funding can lead to cutbacks in programs, staff, and resources, affecting the quality of education. Resource Allocation: Struggles with efficiently allocating limited financial resources to meet diverse needs. Staffing and Professional Development Teacher Shortages: Difficulty in hiring and retaining qualified teachers, especially in specialised subjects or underserved areas. Professional Development: Insufficient opportunities for ongoing teacher training and professional development due to financial or logistical constraints. Academic and Curriculum Challenges Curriculum Rigor and Relevance: Balancing the need for a rigorous academic curriculum with the need to make learning relevant and engaging for students. Student Support and Well-being Mental Health: Increasing mental health issues among students, requiring more support services and trained personnel. Technology Integration Digital Divide: Inequitable access to technology devices like tablets. Inclusivity and Equity Diverse Needs :Addressing the diverse educational needs of students, including those with disabilities, English language learners, and students from varied socio-economic backgrounds. Community and Parental Involvement Parental Engagement: Engaging parents and guardians in their children's education, which can be challenging due to busy schedules or cultural barriers. Community Support: Building and maintaining strong partnerships with the local community to support school programs and initiatives. Administrative Workload: Administrators often face heavy workloads, managing both day-to-day operations and long-term strategic planning. Addressing these issues requires a multifaceted approach, involving collaboration among educators, administrators, parents, money and the community. School has been facing difficulties with finances and lack of community support and is working hard to address these issues to improve and reach it’s full potential.