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DHS launches online learning academy

Co-ed institution for Grades 4-9 in 2021

Assistant producer, DigiTV, DHS, Khanyiso Mbalane and Lauren Jacquin, business head, Swales Online Academy (seated). Pictures by Illa Thompson

Meander Chronicle Reporter

Durban High School is collaborating with DigiCampus to launch Swales Online Academy, an innovative, contemporary educational platform, which will be ready to welcome full-time pupils for the 2021 academic year.

Operating out of Durban’s DHS campus, Swales Academy will be a co-ed institution offering comprehensive CAPS curriculum based, holistic online education for pupils from Grades 4 to 9 who can study from the comfort of their homes.

A team of experienced educationalists from DHS, working with national online education specialists, DigiCampus and independent consultants have jointly creating an alternative to conventional teaching practices using innovative technology to provide an inclusive and holistic approach to education.

Education innovators

After generations of offering a one-size-fits-all approach to education, changing circumstances has taught education innovators that successful education models can take on different forms depending on the needs, temperament, personality and proficiency of the pupils. Many children flourish in a classroom environment; however, some children are better suited to studying autonomously in a manner and at a pace of their choosing.

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As Durban’s oldest school, DHS continues to offer “a heritage of excellence” in education and has been doing so since 1866. Recently its campus has extended to include alternative educational approaches, namely the Nonpareil Academy which begun in 2018, exploring the modern approach of “autonomous learning” which requires the pupil to “manage” his learning style. A facilitator and pupil engage with the main concepts rather than the standard teacher only approach.

This academy covers two assessment programmes, the Cambridge International Assessment as well as an Extension of the Education Department’s syllabus. The Nonpareil Academy is designed for motivated and academically talented boys whose needs are not met adequately in the traditional high school setting.

Khanyiso Mbalane (assistant producer, DigiTV DHS, at camera); DHS headmaster Tony Pinheiro; Winston Owen, business development manager, KZN DigiCentral; and Lauren Jacquin, business head, Swales Online Academy. Pictures by Illa Thompson

Swales Academy is a natural progression of the Nonpareil approach adapted to an online environment using a variety of lesson types and structures to support learning. The online portal has been designed to teach students using videos, digital media and live lessons. Swales will be headed by online educational specialist, Lauren Jacquin, supported by six top educators who will be employed to teach full-time at Swales.

“Covid has taught us many important life lessons,” said DHS Head Master Tony Pinheiro. “One of them is the acceptance and viability of online education as a counterpoint for the tried and tested mainstream, classroom-based schooling model. Our experiences of responding to lockdown have affirmed our intuition that the educational landscape is ready for a home-based alternative. We have adapted what we have learned in our Nonpareil Academy of integrated, blended learning, and taken it online.”

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They currently cover grades 4-9 and use high standard assessments while taking a modern approach to exams and study. On offer is the CAPS Curriculum online subjects:

Grades 4-6: English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Natural Science and Technology, Social Sciences, Life Skills. Grades 7-9: English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Natural Science, Social Sciences, Technology, Economic and Management Sciences, Sciences, Life Orientation and Creative Arts.
Grades 10-12 will be phased in annually from 2022.

Through the DigiCampus network, students can access arts and culture, sports and extra-curricular programmes. Picture: Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

Through the DigiCampus network, Swales pupils can access arts and culture, sports and extra-curricular programmes offered in about 50 schools countrywide (including DHS) to ensure that they benefit from peer engagement and social activity.

DHS campus is also home to Newbridge full-time and part-time college.

**Swales Academy is named after DHS old boy, Major Edwin (Ted) Essery Swales VC DFC – a South African pilot and World War 2 hero; a “Master Bomber” who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and posthumously the Victoria Cross and is remembered for his extraordinary courage. He gave his life that his comrades might live.

**For more info on Swales Academy visit 255 St Thomas Rd, Durban. Phone 031 277 1556 /


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