A school’s success cannot be measured solely by the number of distinctions it has achieved: it is measured on how well equipped its alumni are to achieve their dreams, fulfil their potential as adults and thus become successful and happy citizens.
This approach underpins one of CrawfordSchools’ philosophies, that every child is a masterpiece. CrawfordSchools managing director Jaco Lotz says that the inclusive, independent schools cater for pupils at varying levels of cognitive ability, so attaining a “C” average at matric level could be just as great an achievement as 10 distinctions, depending on the individual’s abilities and the challenges he or she has overcome.
Crawford matrics have, over the years, maintained very high and ever-increasing distinction aver- ages. In 2014, 609 Crawford matrics wrote the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams, achieving a 96% bachelor’s degree pass and 1933 distinctions. Once again, Crawford College Sandton was awarded the accolade of the Top Independent School in the NSC by the Gauteng department of education, followed by Crawford College Lonehill and Crawford College Pretoria. Crawford College La Lucia was awarded the accolade of the Top Independent School in the Pinetown district.
With at least 19 schools from pre-primary to college level under the CrawfordSchools banner, the group has been producing leaders in their fields for over 21 years. “Our alumni include scientists working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and all man- ner of professionals, through to actors, politicians and housewives,” says Lotz. “Not everyone is suited to being a doctor, lawyer or account- ant. Our alumni have followed their individual dreams, and their education has given them the confidence to do so.”
Lotz believes excellence in education depends on a number of factors, including a focus on developing the unique potential of each individual, extending the pupil beyond his or her comfort zone and maintaining a sense of purpose. This focus on personal development should include both pupils and teachers, he says.
Addressing unique abilities and goals of each child and tailoring the best programmes, support and educational delivery systems to help each child achieve may sound like a tall order, but it is the cornerstone on which much of CrawfordSchools’ success is built.
Within a cohesive team comprising pupils, students, teachers and the organisation as a whole, each child is encouraged to identify and work towards his or her own goals. Progress is carefully tracked and assessed, and consultation and mentoring is ongoing. The group’s culture of self-discipline, encouragement, tolerance and respect helps ensure the successful development of each child.
Crawford does not use the term “compulsory” and makes changes in educational delivery only if it is in the interests of the child. For example, the introduction of information technology in the classroom is taking place in a gradual but progressive way. New technologies are continuously introduced as teachers become comfortable to deliver the same high standards of excellence as before. Children who learn better using paper and textbooks might do so alongside classmates who learn more effectively using tablets.
Within this tight-knit team, teachers are encouraged and supported to become experts in their field, and required to exchange ideas with their peers across the group. Best practice and innovation are therefore shared throughout Crawford schools. Parents are continually informed of developments at the schools, backed by research on decisions made relating to their children’s education. This collaboration and growth takes places within the organisation’s strong value system.
Crawaford has pioneered a number of unique approaches to education in South Africa, and its outcomes are testament of the effectiveness of its innovations. “Our measure of success is that each child is uniquely successful and happy, and fits purposely into his or her chosen place in society,” says Lotz.