Grade Rs graduate

Dancers, from left, Tadala Scort, Hope Matroos, Onica Solomons and Cameron Poole.

Children at Emmanuel Educare in Westlake Village are six months ahead of where they are supposed to be in the curriculum, according to the school’s principal Hazel Albertus.

She was speaking prior to the Grade R graduation ceremony, on Thursday November 8, held in the community hall and attended by parents, guardians and guests.

All the Grade R pupils were presented with certificates for various skills, from auditory perception, language and neat writing to personal independence and problem solving.

They curtsied or bowed to the audience and then formed groups beneath the stage.

The certificates were handed out by former principal Eleanor Lawrence, and former Grade R teacher Val Arendse and Serena Wallace-Turner of Radiant Law who also provided the spread of food enjoyed after the event.

The pupils then performed three dance items to songs Fame, Spoonful of Sugar and Singing in the Rain. This was followed by the children walking across the stage and then saying goodbye to their teachers.

Ms Lawrence says the school has come a long way in the past 16 years when it began in the corners of the stage in the hall. Now they operate from a purpose built school with playgrounds and climbing frame, holding graduation ceremonies since 2002.

Ms Albertus says Emmanuel has 171 children and operates with 11 qualified teachers, four kitchen staff, an administrator and a handyman.

“Most of the children start out unable to speak English but are fluent when they leave. Most go to Westlake Primary, with one or two going to Kirstenhof, Zwaanswyk, Heathfield or Saint Andrews primary schools,” says Ms Albertus.

Landie Diamond, principal of Westlake Primary, who could not attend the graduation, says two of its three Grade 1 classes come from Emmanuel Educare.

“It makes a huge difference because they are school ready and self confident. They know about routine, when to play, work and go the loo, how to hold a pen and write. Those who have not attended an ECD cling to parents and cry on the first day of school being unfamiliar in a strange environment,” she

MC for the graduation, Richard Saner of Westlake United Church Trust, says many parents have sacrificed so much to enrol their children at Emmanuel and the teachers have ploughed so much into teaching them.

Ms Albertus says she puts the success of the children’s grades down to the R-Maths Programme they have been using for the past year. The educare is doing so well that they were chosen to form part of a
video used in training of other
teachers who are using the programme.

Senior education specialist at UCT, Cally Kuhne, said the R-Maths Programme is a partnership between the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and UCT. “R-maths makes use of a poster book, animal number frieze, resource kit and the environment to nurture a sense of curiosity. Emmanuel has been amazing, they’re taken on the programme, are using it, managing it totally, committed and making it work,” says Ms Kuhne.

She says they have provided fantastic feedback such as learning how much maths and numeracy is used in Grade R. And that they are working at a far higher level, upping their knowledge and understanding of mathematics for teachers and pupils that inform the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and how to teach the content in Grade R.

Ms Kuhne says the partnership started training 77 early childhood development (ECD) and foundation phase teachers in the Western Cape in 2016. These teachers in turn passed on what they had learnt to 3 200 Grade R teachers.

Critical thinking, cognitive flexibility and communication through interactive guiding questions are interwoven into the four R-maths term activity guides.

Mr Saner says the graduation is a highlight of the year. “To watch children with their future in their hands – they are future leaders in our country. It could not be done without the collaboration and support from neighbouring Reddam School, local supermarkets and so many others,” he says.

* Westlake United Church Trust is holding its annual general meeting on Saturday November 24, from 10am to 11.30pm, in the community hall in Egret Way, Westlake Village. RSVP to, or call 021 702 1697.