What School System is Right for Your Child


What sort of school do you want to send your child to? We have looked at public, private and Model C schools. But there are also a few well-established school curriculums or philosophies available in South Africa and it is wise to explore each one in order to find a system that suits your child. Here is a breakdown of the common kinds of schooling systems available to you in South Africa:

CAPS, or the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement, is the current official curriculum used in all public schools. CAPS is an amendment to the original National Curriculum Statement (NCS) for Grades R-12, making it more accessible to teachers from all backgrounds. Every subject in each grade has a 'single, comprehensive and concise' curriculum. There is obvious difficulty in trying to bring all students from all backgrounds currently studying under the government system on par with one curriculum, but so far it has been a source of relief to teachers, although at this juncture it is still too early to tell just how successful it will be after its five year trial is up. The Department of Education has gone out of its way to focus on unlimited resources for all of its teachers and judging from the feedback, it has been met with positivity. The curriculum is comprehensive, encompassing all subjects and topics with scheduled daily content at every level and works in the traditional government school structure.


A Montessori school does not necessarily have a curriculum but rather an educational approach. Developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, this school of thought  emphasizes development through independence and respect for a child’s natural, physical, psychological and social development. Focusing on a child's natural abilities and interests through the use of age-appropriate equipment and materials leads to optimal mental and physical development. Montessori classes are structured according to developmental age groups, not necessarily age groups, and although the system was initially developed for pre-primary level, some Montessori schools offer education at elementary level, making the transition for your individual child easy, stress-free and in his/her own developmental time.


The Waldorf School of thought, conceptualized by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, distinguishes three broad stages in child development. In the early years, education focuses on providing practical activities and environments that encourage creative play. Elementary school emphasizes development of artistic expression and social capacities, fostering both creative and analytical understanding. The schools are characterized by a predictable structure, providing children with a dependable routine, such as certain days of the week for set activities, as well as mixed-age classrooms with the same teacher over many years. As the Waldorf child progresses to secondary level, an emphasis is placed on an empathetic understanding of mathematics, arts, sciences, humanities and languages. The main idea is to place value on integrating an individual's intellectual, practical and artistic creativity across all disciplines in order to foster a well-rounded and resourceful individual.  


Founded in Texas in 1970 and established in South Africa in 1988, ACE schools adopt their curriculum using materials which aim to teach Christian children all about life through the word of God. The Accelerated Christian Education curriculum is based on a series of workbooks called PACEs (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education) and covers primary school subjects with a nod to creationism. ACE schools are very niche, however the ACE curriculum can also be taught at home. A child can be qualified for high school after completing an ACE curriculum.


Homeschooling has grown in popularity in South Africa since 1990. Disgruntlement with government offerings and exorbitant school fees have made some parents choose this route. Most primary school level curriculums can be found online and books and resources for parent teachers are in abundance. Forums and weekly play date/ sport meets in ones' area enable parents to fit in an array of subjects in their own time and at the child's own pace. 
Do any of these sound right for your child? Your next course of action is to make appointments with schools in your area that have sparked your interest. Take your child along and let them experience the different types of classroom and learning. The more homework you do before your decision, the more your decision will make sense to you and benefit your child.

What Is a Waldorf School?
A parent's complete guide to schooling