Educational philosophy

At St Stithians Girls’ Preparatory, we strive to develop girls who are equipped to cope with the demands of the 21st century. We develop critical thinkers, who are caring and responsible.

The Girls’ Preparatory journey begins in Grade 3, which is the final year of the foundation phase, and ends after Grade 7, the first year of the senior phase.

At St Stithians Girls’ Preparatory, we believe in the pursuit of excellence and we also believe children have excellence within them. It is up to us as parents and educators to provide opportunities for every child’s special gift to be recognised and nurtured.

Every possible learning opportunity is embraced to accommodate the developing needs of our young ladies. We offer a wide range of subjects, including English, Information Technology, Mathematics, Design and Technology, Sotho, Zulu, Afrikaans, Economic Management Sciences, Natural Science, Social Science, Religious Education, Physical Education, Music, Art and Thinking Skills, which are integrated throughout the day.

We aim to achieve this through a variety of means. Firstly, we have embraced a relevant curriculum that emphasises, among other things, the importance of being South African and taking pride in our heritage. Secondly, we have designed a curriculum that develops the valuable concepts of rights and responsibilities. Our thematic approach ensures that issues are contextualised, relevant and focused on skills development.

We believe that it is very important to offer differentiated teaching and learning experiences. We have investigated theories and philosophies that ensure that all our teachers understand the developing brains of girls and their individual needs.

These form an integral part of our planning, and in this way we meet and extend the individual child’s learning styles. We have incorporated Thinking Skills into our curriculum, which allows for the explicit teaching of cognitive skills, interpersonal skills and intrapersonal skills. We believe that this will better equip them for their diverse futures.

We trust that we will develop well-rounded, well-balanced, caring and confident young women, who are intrinsically motivated.

Spirituality

As a Methodist school, we gather together for worship in our Chapel once a week. Our Fellowship Committee girls serve the school in preparing worship that is engaging and uplifting. Fellowship Committee girls also enjoy participating in special events, such as our Easter and Christmas plays and our annual Ascension Day Service, which is held outdoors using a labyrinth. Holy Communion is celebrated at the end of every term and the Methodist tradition is to welcome everyone who has faith in the saving work of Jesus, to the Table of the Lord. Taking part in Holy Communion is never compulsory, but an open invitation is made and attendance in Chapel is required by all staff and pupils.

Every morning starts with prayer and we ensure that assembly times are also expressive of our commitment to God through prayer and song.

Religious Education lessons are given in each class across every grade. The focus in these classes is to deepen a knowledge of God and foster faith in God. While lessons are given from a Christian frame of reference, other religions are often discussed and common ground is celebrated. Our community service endeavours are encouraged during RE lessons, as the Methodist Church places strong emphasis on social upliftment and mindfulness of those in need.

Our girls have a wonderful opportunity to belong to a Christian social group. JAM (Jesus And Me) is a group for our Grade 3 and 4 girls and LOL (Love Our Lord) is a group for Grade 5, 6 and 7 girls. These social groups meet once a week and the focus is on how to live out our Christian faith in the world.

Leadership

At Girls’ Preparatory we believe that all our girls will be leaders at some stage in their lives. It is our philosophy to give every girl the opportunity to lead, and that leadership is learnt through practice based on the principles of servant leadership. We create opportunities for all our girls, not just Grade 7s, to be leaders, to be able to take the lead in serving their families, school and their community.

We teach leadership qualities formally through our curriculum and informally through all activities, allowing our girls to understand and develop themselves further. This is promoted through a reflective process in which all girls participate.

All our girls receive “in-service” training where they can learn valuable lessons from their experiences. This is implemented through a committee structure that includes all our girls from Grade 3 to Grade 6, ably led by our Grade 7s. These committees are based on the IDEALS of Round Square.

Young Round Square

The Young Round Square IDEALS (International understanding, Democracy, Environment, Adventure, Leadership and Service) are lived out through our leadership and community engagement programmes, and our curriculum, across all grades.

This promotes self-reliance, compassion, understanding and tolerance of others. Through our association with this international organisation, our Grade 7 girls are given an additional opportunity to participate in regional and international conferences.

Service

Involvement in community engagement programmes and projects is an integral component of the holistic education offered at the Girls’ Preparatory.

Our goal is to give each girl the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, animals and people, and to foster a culture of lifelong giving as she becomes an active global citizen. Grade 3 to 6 girls are exposed to a variety of partnerships. They plan regular visits and provide items that support the needs of that organisation. A percentage of all funds raised through civvies days is used for this purpose. Each girl visits the organisation at least twice in a year.

  • Gr 6 – Sunshine Centre
  • Gr 5 – Acres of Love
  • Gr 4 – Garden Village
  • Gr 3 – Animals in Distress

Grade 7 girls are encouraged to build a relationship with an organisation of their choice in preparation for the expectations of community engagement in the Girls’ College. They need to commit to 12 hours of community service during the year.

Extramurals (sport and cultural)

The aim of extramurals at the Girls’ Prep is to motivate and encourage girls to be active for at least 60 minutes a day, and to sample our extensive sport and cultural programme. Our quality programme offers a broad spectrum of choice and variety for our girls. We would like to ensure that the girls find enjoyment and lasting satisfaction through participating in both physical and cultural activities catering for the competitive child, as well as the keen participant.

Apart from increasing the physical skills and fitness of each girl, they also learn to be young leaders, develop their self-worth, problem-solve, think critically, and learn to work in co-operation with others in a team, to mention a few benefits.

To best achieve the aims mentioned, we follow the Long Term Athletic Development model, instilling a lifelong love of physical activity. This model advocates that the age and stage of a child’s development are taken into consideration in order to plan age-appropriate lessons. We encourage learners to sample a variety of different extramurals throughout the year. We believe in the inclusion of all learners in our programme and encourage maximum participation as well as excellence. Our results are proof that we are highly competitive in all activities offered.

We offer a large range of sporting activities at a team and non-team level: swimming (team and non-team), diving (team and non-team), tennis (team and non-team,) squash (team and non-team), gymnastics, ball skills, strength and conditioning, netball, hockey, equestrian, athletics (team and non-team) and adventure racing (there is no selection process, and all children are able to participate).

Cultural activities offered: Art Club, Big Business, chess, Craft Club, Creativity Club, choir (junior – all Grade 3 and 4, senior – Grade 5, 6, 7 audition), flute ensemble, string ensemble, clarinet and saxophone ensemble, marimba band, drama, debating, photography (Grade 7 only, on a rotational basis), JAM (Jesus And Me – Grades 3-5), LOL (Love Our Lord – Grades 6-7).

We offer an extensive music programme. Each grade has one period a week for formal group music education. During the Grade 3 year the learners are introduced to instrumental music through learning the recorder. Reading notation and an introduction to the basic elements of music through singing, listening and dancing is the main focus of our curriculum.

During the Grade 4 year the learners are introduced to orchestral instruments. As part of the school curriculum small groups are introduced to the violin, cello, clarinet and flute. The groups rotate every eight weeks, and throughout the year girls are enrolled for individual teaching should they show a special aptitude and love for a specific instrument.

Grades 5-7 have Arts and Culture for 30 minutes a week. Music, art, drama and dance are integrated by working on special themes during the year. Each learner is exposed to, and becomes involved in, all the arts and becomes visually and musically literate through interaction and participation.