Frequently Asked Questions
We feel are important for parents to ask us
Capella House badges itself as a progressive school and our approach is different from traditional South African schooling. By this, we mean that we regard the relationship between teacher and child as impacting learning way more than any curriculum, facilities or resources. We are a proudly child-centred learning environment where the teachers work with the natural curiosity of children to discover ‘the magic of learning’, capturing their attention, wonder and delight as the teacher follows what they are interested in. As opposed to a traditional “industrial” instructional production line and content heavy approach with a compulsory conform and comply culture (ref Sir Ken Robinson – ‘How School’s Kill Creativity’), We have a facilitative, child-centred, relationship focused approach to create a safe physical and emotional space for learning. We celebrate difference and co-create agreements.
We are registered with WCED (Western Cape Education Department) and ISASA (Independent Schools Association of SA). ISASA evaluates schools on the basis Quality, Diversity and Values. Capella House has also registered with the IEB Primary Schools Institute (PSI) as well as AREA (African Reggio Emilia Alliance).
We follow what we call an EMERGENT CURRICULUM covering the academic requirements of the grade (with CAPs as a baseline) via what the children are interested in. So, the concept of graphs is covered by looking at how far the different planets are from the sun within a chosen theme of The Solar System. Or how fast the different wild Animals run. We aim to address the multi-intelligences using running games, standing desks, outside work in the garden to ensure that all children’s learning styles are catered for.
This is underpinned by our focus on Emotional Intelligence. Working with children (and adults) to identify their emotions, to manage their emotions, to be aware of the impact of their emotions on others, to work with other’s emotions and work in a team of different emotions. EQ in action on a daily basis.
Capella House does not have a ‘discipline policy’. Accountability being one of our main values, classes have community chosen boundaries in place that children are held accountable to maintain. We have what we call a ‘Behaviour Management Guideline’ process which recognizes that children generally do not act deliberately to create a negative experience for themselves, but rather that it may be a consequence of how they are feeling within themselves, given their home circumstances, relationships within or outside of the school, or simply something they are wrestling with personally.
Therefore, rather than make a child feel ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, we use classroom agreements as a basis for how we will co-exist in the space. If a child is not able to manage within those agreements, we follow an enquiry based investigative approach of what the teacher is observing, what is not working and what support may be required to enable the child to work within the classroom agreements going forward.
We are very clear that we are not a remedial school and do not offer in-house OT or physio support, etc. At the same time our small classes and nurturing environment support some children who do not thrive within the traditional school environment and larger classes. We do expect some level of academic aspiration from children, particularly at the intermediate stage.
Currently, 10% of our children are identified as ‘Sensitive Enrolments’ i.e. where we review the enrolment on a termly basis. We also have many experiences of children who are perceived as ‘different’ in a traditional school, finding their space within Capella, realizing that they are valued for who they are, whilst still ensuring that things work for the class as a whole.
Our experience is that children “relax” into what they experience as a safe and nurturing space for ALL children. Our focus is on working with the individuality of each child. At the same time we build empathy and acceptance of differences.
We have a carefully planned enrolment process which includes a tour, a pre-visit meeting followed by a three day visit for your child to experience the Capella Way in action and for our teachers to experience and (lightly) assess where your child is, as well as looking at the current make-up of the class. Based on this feedback we have a post-visit meeting sharing both the school’s and your child’s experience of the school. This will inform the decision as to whether to enroll your child or not from both the school’s and your own perspective.
Children at Capella House have a voice, and that voice is encouraged, recognized and acknowledged within boundaries that are clearly communicated in terms of the teacher’s requirement and the needs of a class as a whole in order to function effectively. Trust, respect and dignity underpin all relationships and that includes communications between and amongst teachers, children, parents, staff and board, with an open approach to resolving challenges between and amongst people – adults and children alike.
We believe that educating your child is not our responsibility alone. As parents your children will follow your lead, they will follow what you do, not necessarily what you say, and if the two are not aligned, they will pick it up. We are not a ‘drop and go’ school where the gates get locked behind you. Parents are welcome at our daily Social Integration – the first half hour of the day where the children can play with their friends, where all can engage in a creative activity, and where parents can chat to their child’s teacher.
At the same time we recognize that many more parents are working, so we see ourselves in a partnership, supporting your child’s growth and development and social integration is not a daily requirement. We have a Parenting Support Program which requires a commitment to do the ‘Nurturing of Self Esteem’ workshop which supports our parents in gaining the skills to deal with their children in the same way the children are engaged at school. Parents are also required to attend the two report meetings and two of the four school shares in a year.
We have had children go on to Fish Hoek High, Silvermine Academy, Reddam, Hout Bay International and Cedar House. Generally the feedback has been that our children walk into natural leadership positions as they have high self-esteem, a very clear sense of who they are and share what it is that they are needing in a respectful way. Capella House children have been recognized for their independent and self-managed way of working. We feel this is a result of our co-operative mutual agreements rather than an imposed structure and way of working that children have to comply with. They have also been recognized for being more than able to cope with the academic requirements.
Contact us to book a tour to experience our school in action. Tours generally take place on a Friday at 9am but we are open to arrange a time at your convenience. If you like what you see, we can book a three day visit for your child/ren, which may involve a special visit meeting (45 mins) prior to the scheduled visit taking place. The visit is followed by a post-visit meeting to share the teacher’s experience of your child, your child’s experience of the school, and to determine whether Capella House is the right environment for your child.
There is a minimal homework policy at Capella House. We believe that loading children with homework just for the sake of providing homework is not necessary or educationally sound. Our teachers support this view and the research that argues that unnecessarily intense schooling environments create unhappy and unmotivated young people. Learners learn more from exploring as many interests as possible after school in the time they have at home.