ACADEMIC AND LEARNER SUPPORT
As one of South Africa’s leading schools, St Alban’s College provides an education aimed at developing a boy’s independence of mind and honing his critical thinking abilities through a deep immersion in our broad holistic curriculum.
A St Alban’s boy should push his own boundaries and be aware of the challenges facing our society and his role in addressing them. Critical-thinking, amongst others, is by far one of the most significant and important skills our boys will need in this post-truth world.
Our core business and current mission which focuses on the current boys and parents of the College. St Alban’s is a high-end school which excludes the vast majority of our fellow citizens. The College has grown incrementally over the years but in the last 4 years has grown intentionally and strategically by 10 boys per annum. In 2017 we were a school of 540 and in 2021 we are a school of 585 and currently we are on track to accept our 600th student in 2022. In this process we have encouraged applicants with sufficient financial means to re-donate their scholarship or bursary to less privileged boys and this is starting to gain traction.
Scholarships and Bursaries
We would like more boys to experience the opportunity of an excellent education. Hopefully in time we will be able to increase our bursary offering based on excellence rather than offering scholarships to the wealthy. Imagine a St Alban’s where any applicant, whether they could afford it or not, was able to have access to our school. Without getting into the details, we also need to redefine excellence because in some institutions this is purely based on marks and whilst our results are improving, it would be a fundamental error to define excellence by the narrow parameter of academic results. Humans are so much more than their academic results or the universities they attend. St Alban’s advocates a holistic education and we should continue to believe and strive for this. Our country, and the world, are in dire need of well rounded, balanced, honest and emotionally intelligent young men who have integrity and a desire to help others who are less fortunate.
We currently spend R8m from our own funds on scholarships and bursaries. Raising Endowment funds to this value on an annual basis will allow us to remove this from our operational budget and repurpose the allocated amount for other vital resources to enable the College to move confidently into continual upgrading of learning and innovation strategies keeping the school at the cutting edge of relevant education.
Innovation is about attempting to solve real world problems whether they be the societal problems of inequality or lack of opportunity or the physical problems of the lack of resources and expertise.
‘It is clear that we were founded to challenge orthodoxy and are never comfortable with the status quo.’
St Alban’s has also always been on the cusp of innovation, albeit because we have not had the funding and have been forced to think and behave in nimble and innovative ways, but it will be important not to lose this culture of ‘frugal innovation’. Having a comfortable trust fund can lead to lazy thinking and behaviour and a loss of focus on a workable and successful operating model.
The College must continue to attract families because these families can see and feel the magic and want to be part of it. In this process we should not lose the characteristic which has allowed us to be successful in the past. It is imperative that we do not lose focus on this important aspect at the same time as encouraging the community at large, more specifically our Old Boys, to reignite their passion for their alma mater and ensure that they play a part in the College’s sustainable success.
We are currently in the process of designing a new MakerSpace which will allow boys and students from partner schools to build and hone the skills they will need to function in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the 21st century. Our Solar Car project is one of these wonderful projects. A group of boys and students from St Alban’s and St Augustine’s, designed, built and raced the solar car to Cape Town in 2018 in the South African Solar Car Challenge. The experience gained energised the theory learnt in the classroom context and created a generation committed to sustainable solutions in a number of areas. Ultimately the Nupen Block will be refurbished and renamed the Nupen Science and Innovation Centre. This will be a world-class space which will allow for ideas to be ignited in an attempt to solve real-world problems in the South African context and make life easier for those who are not as privileged as us. Innovation will also include the Arts (Drama, Art and Music) as we seek to ensure that our students are ultimately aware that we live in one of the most unequal societies in the world.
Technology is evolving at a staggering rate and now, more than ever, St Alban’s needs to enable future generations to uncover and harness the power of modern technology and to thrive in the digital age. Essential skills such as critical-thinking, creative thinking, complex problem-solving and the opportunity to collaborate and ideate with their peers will catapult well-prepared St Alban’s learners into their tertiary studies with a clear advantage and potential for success.
In order for our students to experience the foundations of technology, namely engineering, data science and computer science, the College needs a dedicated space and specialist equipment that goes beyond the traditional classroom setup. To this end the MakerSpace, established over the last couple of years, has now been refurbished and is ready to receive the specialist equipment required to enable students to conceptualise, design, engineer and produce their inventions in a tangible or electronic format. Our MakerSpace requires modern, flexible and reconfigurable furniture, computers and simulation software, resources to teach coding and programming, access to training courses on automation, systems design and resources to study current programming languages, 3D printers and consumables, standard workshop equipment and expert knowledge on data gathering and analysis.
Presenting learning in a creative and fun environment will demystify the world of technology for our boys and engage more of them when they start collaborating in theme-based coding and robotics activities towards, for example, recreating their favourite electronic game or designing a self-watering garden for the gardening club.
South African Solar Car Challenge
Fifty students from St Alban’s and St Augustine’s LEAP school came together to build a Solar Car. The team called Sonke (which means together) finished 6th in the 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge which started in Pretoria and finished in Cape Town.
“The Solar Challenge encourages young people to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics by showing what can be done with these subjects. The solar vehicles – from their aerodynamic design, to the telemetry used to plan their path, to the energy-converting technology, are impressive visual representations of the STEM subjects in action. Education programmes that run concurrently with the challenge educate young people in the principles of science, technology, engineering, innovation, teamwork and business; and promotes collaboration between students, industry and government.
During the event, (university) students get an opportunity to practically apply the science and technology theory they’ve learnt at school or university, and South African students get a chance to test their engineering skills against some of the best solar car teams in the world”.
– Rob Walker, Class of 2005 and Director of the Sasol Solar Car Challenge
The students designed and assembled the car themselves from scratch assisted by a steering committee of parents, staff and Old Boys who guided them. The team held four special build camps to prepare for the Sasol Solar Challenge. In this space, they designed the car and tested the different systems. They learnt how to solder, crimp, connect batteries and panels, as well as build parts out of fiberglass.
The telemetry team programmed and built a radio module which was used to send important information about the state of the battery to the strategy team who traveled in convoy with the Solar Car. 10 of the Team Sonke learners assisted Sasol with solar power demonstrations to schools along the way. The purpose was to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Innovation beyond boundaries: Solar Car Challenge Website.