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SA PRIVATE SCHOOLS – START SAVING!

Brendon Johnson

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An article (see it here) that did the rounds on social media in October 2014 created massive debate and a mild sense of panic amongst twenty-something’s and young parents by exposing the extravagant fees demanded by South Africa’s most expensive private schools. Hilton College topped the list with annual fees of R 209,000. That excludes other essentials such as uniforms, text books, stationery, sports equipment and the odd local or overseas tour. No matter which way you look at it, that is a massive sum of money! If you have the statistical 2.2 kids, you are in the hole for nearly half a million rand before you have put a loaf of bread on the table.

saschoolstartsaving

cc: pixgood.com

With these figures in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see how much you would need to put away per month in order to save enough to send just 1 child to the most expensive schools in the country. At an inflation rate of 6%, if you had a son today, you would need to come up with R420,549.06 by the year 2027 for his first year of high school at Hilton College, by the time he reaches matric, you will be paying R530,933.50 for the year.

Unless you are really fortunate, stumble upon the next big tech start up or you win the lotto, that kind of money will demand that you start investing today! If we use an average annual inflation rate of 6% to calculate the future value of the annual school fees and we compare two types of investment, a money market fund (lower risk) and an exchange traded fund over the top 40 JSE equities (higher risk) we come up with some pretty interesting (and perhaps scary) results when calculating the required monthly installment if you were to start today. I used the Old Mutual Money Market Fund in this example, the fund has returned an average 7.30% per annum over the last 10 years. For the ETF, I used Satrix 40 purely because that is probably the one that most people might be aware of. The Satrix 40 ETF has returned an average of 16.56% per annum since its inception in December 2000.

The ETF appears to be the immediate best option based on the average annual return, however, it comes at a higher risk, while the money market fund should consistently produce a positive return (baring credit default scenarios, eg ABIL), equity tracker funds can very easily have a negative return (as most did in 2008). It all comes down to your risk appetite and your risk / reward profile. If you wanted to send your son to Hilton College in 2027, you would need to put away R6,602.06 per month in the Old Mutual Money Market Fund or R2,382.23 into the Satrix 40 ETF every month starting today! While this may be a little bit skewed as your earning potential should in theory increase year on year and the installment will stay the same, it is still a pretty good representation of the cost of a decent education these days! Click on the table below to see what you would need to invest every month in order to afford each of the top 22 most expensive schools in the country.

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Education

Young leaders debate poor pass rates

Metrosmag,SA

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Pupils from three high schools in the underprivileged community of Olievenhoutbosch will apply their minds to the problem of poor pass rates when the second annual OAA Schools Debate Competition takes place on Saturday, September 23.

Forming part of the Olievenhout Academic Awards programme, the debate will see pupils from Olievenhoutbosch, Seshegong and Steve Tshwete secondary schools take to the stage at Forest Hill City shopping centre to tackle the issues affecting their educational progress.

Each five-member team will comprise a representative pupil from grades 8 to 11 and a teacher. Mooted topics include whether mathematics should be compulsory for all pupils, and whether cash incentives for high test scores or the public posting of results on school noticeboards would have an impact on pupils’ performance.

Forest Hill City marketing manager Annah Moremela said, aside from finding solutions to very real problems, the aim of the competition was to develop vital faculties such as research, critical thinking, logical argumentation and public speaking skills.

“We are always proud to support community initiatives, such as this one by Goat Creative Solutions, which aim to get people thinking about and acting on important social issues,” said Moremela.

She said the three participating schools were to be commended on their strong academic performance despite the socio-economic challenges they faced in their community.

Last year, Seshegong, Steve Tshwete and Olievenhoutbosch obtained matric pass rates of 90%, 80.5% and 77% respectively.

Moremela said supporting educational initiatives in particular remained a key focus area for the mall’s community investment projects.

Last year’s inaugural debate was won by Olievenhoutbosch Secondary School. While all participants will receive medals and certificates, the winning school and best speaker will be awarded their trophies at the main Olievenhout Academic Awards ceremony on October 28.

The debate takes place between 9am and 1pm in the mall’s centre court.

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Education

Private doesn’t always mean perfect: How to choose the right school for your child

Metrosmag,SA

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With registrations for the new school year now open, thousands of parents are considering sending their children to private schools. While many of them would not have considered this option before, the rapid expansion of the private offering is seeing an influx into this sector. However an education expert warns that just as they would do with public schools and higher education, parents must do their homework before simply signing up with any school by virtue of it being a private one.

“Just as with public schools, quality and performance vary from school to school, and it is incorrect to assume that just because a school is private, it is automatically the best choice for your child,” says John Luis, Head of Academics at ADvTECH Schools, home of 91 private schools across South and Southern Africa, including Trinity House and Crawford Schools.

He says the philosophy, approach and capacity of various private schools are vastly different, and that a school should be selected only after consideration of the specific needs of the child to see how they match to potential schools. Additionally, parents should carefully scrutinise promises against track record.

“Parents must firstly make sure that the overall ethos of the school is a good match to the family and the child,” he says.

“When visiting schools – a non-negotiable part of the process of selection – parents should observe the learners and their interactions among each other and with teachers. One should ideally get a good sense that the environment is safe and stimulating, and that the school has all the resources and facilities one expects from an environment in which academic excellence can become possible.”

Luis adds that parents should also look at the long-term performance of schools and their students, to ensure that learners are equipped not just to excel at school, but also to flourish in higher education and beyond.

Very importantly, parents should find out from the school how they are incorporating the very important 21st Century Skills as identified by the World Economic Forum into their teaching methodology and curricula, says Luis.

“Schools should no longer be operating in the way they did ten or even five years ago, with the approach of imparting knowledge top-down, and learners being exam-focused parrots. That does not serve us in the real world out there anymore, and will do so even less in future. Globally schools are moving towards empowering learners with the kinds of skills they need for our new workplaces – skills such as being able to creatively problem-solve, research, communicate and self-manage.”

STEPS FOR CHOOSING A PRE-SCHOOL

Trudie Gilmore, Assistant General Manager at ADvTECH Junior Colleges, says there are few things that instil more anxiety and apprehension in parents than the task of finding the right school for their child’s first foray into education.

“The choices can be overwhelming, the deadlines are impossibly early, and the pressure to get it right is huge,” she says.

She advises parents to structure their search as follows:

  1. Start your search at least one school year prior to attending, and note that many schools take applications as early as just after a child’s birth. Schools should have viewings scheduled throughout the year, and you should attend these at all of the schools you have identified. If you missed the boat on timing, call around and arrange as many visits as you can. Most have waiting lists, and there are often last-minute openings. Be persistent by checking back in and being proactive.
  2. The Viewing. You can attend an Open Day or Expo to hear about the philosophy, admission process and much more, then submit the application and registration fee. You can view the school while classes are in session, and we recommend that you bring your child to spend time in the classroom. Be ready with a notebook on the viewing, and bring a list of all your questions to be answered.
  3. Know how often and how long you’d like your child to attend. Children usually attend preschool anytime from 3 months to 6 years of age.  Most schools should offer half-day and full-day programmes. Check that you are happy with the programmes for both the morning and the afternoon if your child will be there for the full day.

 

Gilmore says parents should check for the following to ensure that a pre-school programme is well-run:

  • Assess the quality of children’s relationships with the staff. Pay close attention to the language used in the classroom and the friendliness of the staff. View a few different classrooms while school is in session to see how the teachers interact with the children.
  • Home-to-school connections are important. Preschools that have high family involvement are often the schools with the strongest programmes. When families are involved, children do better, teachers feel supported and everyone works together for the children’s learning and development.
  • High-quality preschools have structure: They follow a specific philosophy or model and have specific guidelines for addressing challenging behaviour.
  • Discipline policies should emphasise positive approaches to teaching children new skills and proactive strategies for behaviour management such as classroom rules, routines and social-emotional lessons or curriculum.

STEPS FOR CHOOSING PRIMARY AND HIGH SCHOOLS

Morag Rees, Principal of Crawford College Sandton, says that to be academically excellent, a school should not only provide enriching, empowering and meaningful learning opportunities which challenge students’ thinking, assumptions and abilities, but should also ensure that these learning opportunities provide a foundation for further study and successful future lives.

She advises parents to consider the following when looking at schools:

  • The culture of the school, which includes things such as diversity, community awareness, priorities (e.g. academics, leadership development, cultural activities and/or sports), student interaction, and commitment to learning.
  • Travelling distance is also a consideration – especially if the child and parents want to be fully involved.
  • Teaching philosophy and school ethos should align with the learner and parents’ expectations.
  • The school’s track record over the long term, which means not just looking at last year’s matric results.
  • The options available to learners in terms of subject choices, extra murals, and genuine interest in offering every student opportunities.
  • The staff and faculty (qualifications, personalities, passion, genuine commitment to students and education).
  • Awareness of current education trends and research, and using technology in a relevant way.

 

“With the proliferation of private schools catering to a much bigger section of the population than ever before, parents may understandably be excited at the prospect of being able to give their kids ‘the best’, even if it entails some sacrifice,” says Luis.

“But we urge parents to do their homework and to ensure that the sacrifice is not a blind one, because a cookie-cutter education – even if it is at a private school – is not desirable. Parents should ensure that the school they choose is able to tailor their offering to take into account each child’s uniqueness, that it is an enabling environment, that it encourages relationship building, and that it is optimally conducive to learning and development.”

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Education

Gone in 8.8 seconds: How to save your CV from the recycle bin

Metrosmag,SA

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You spent hours crafting your first CV, showcasing your school years, qualifications and experience, but employers don’t even give it 9 seconds of attention before moving on to the next one. Although the job market is tough even for people who have years of experience, it is particularly challenging for young graduates applying for entry-level positions, and first-time CV writers must put in extra effort to develop a stand-out CV, an education expert says.

“Research by the UK’s youth programme, National Citizen Service, found that applications for junior positions have skyrocketed, increasing pressure on employers who have to wade through hundreds of CVs. In South Africa, the competition for entry-level positions is even fiercer, and the need for your CV to facilitate a foot in the door can’t be stressed enough,” says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education provider.

“You are at a tremendous disadvantage if your CV is poorly written and does not sell you effectively, and it is almost certain that you won’t be invited to an interview if that is the case,” says Ntshinga.

He says the best route for graduates is to approach their public university or private higher education institution’s career centre for assistance in writing their first CV, to ensure it ticks all the boxes before being dispatched to the HR manager’s inbox. In addition to ensuring that one’s qualifications and experience match the technical criteria of an advertised position, first-time jobseekers should:

  • CRAFT AN INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC CV

An application for a position in finance will look very different to an application for a position in advertising, Ntshinga says. “As always, Google is your friend. Do an image search for CV examples in your industry, and demonstrate that you are in touch with the culture and approach to business in your chosen sector.”

  • SHOWCASE NOT ONLY COMPETENCE, BUT ALSO CHARACTER

Demonstrate that the employer can trust you and that you are a perfect fit for the position. Show, don’t tell. Raise relevant examples from you student or school career to prove your value in addition to providing qualifications details.

  • KEEP IT SHORT AND TO THE POINT

Less is certainly not more. Give yourself 9 seconds to scan your CV. Do your main selling points jump out at you? Is it clear from a first glance that you are suitably qualified for the position? Gone are the days when CVs stretched over numerous pages with personal details filling the first two. In 2017, the very first page (and there should be no more than two), has to give an employer a solid, positive overview of who you are and what you have achieved.

  • FOCUS ON FACTS AND FIGURES

When demonstrating your experience, don’t just speak in general terms. Use facts and figures to prove what you have done. For instance, if you gained work experience or interned during your student years (which ideally you should have done), don’t just say “Worked for Company Y” or “Was involved in Project X”. Instead, say: “Company Y: Production coordinator on R5 million project with responsibility for a, b and c”.

Ntshinga says all CVs, regardless of whether they are from first-time jobseekers or experienced professionals, should demonstrate that the applicant understands the position and business of the prospective employer, which means generic CVs are out of the question.

“Each CV must be tailored to the position being applied for.  While this does take time and effort, a generic CV will not take you anywhere. Looking for work should be treated as work in itself, so make the investment.”

Ntshinga says that another way to highlight oneself as a candidate, is to demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning.

“Show that you are proficient in the latest software required in the position you are applying for. Don’t just list your existing qualifications, but also indicate if you are enrolled in any short courses or programmes to expand your skills.”

And finally, a short, well-crafted cover or introductory letter should round off the application.

“This is an opportunity to let the hiring manager get to know you – so make sure the letter is concise but contains personality, and make extra sure that there are no spelling and grammatical errors,” he says.

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