School Type: Public, Urban
Year Elected: 2014
The Grove Primary is a traditional South African public school with over 130 years of history. Unlike most traditional historical schools, The Grove has also set itself aside by its progressive nature, having challenged Apartheid laws to accommodate non-white learners from early on. This progressive nature is also reflected in the curriculum and in-school practice through several innovations which have over the years influenced national public policies.
The Grove sees itself as a laboratory for primary school innovations, with a lot of trial and error, but no fear to make mistakes. Much of the innovation happens in the curriculum but also a lot in the team and organization dynamics. The one that stands out is the Mediation initiative. It has been run for 15 years now as an ongoing internal process that allows students, teachers and even parents to engage in non-violent communication to solve conflicts in school but also those related to school. Another important innovation was the creation of the Diversity Committee to address the challenges of an increasingly more diverse student body. It’s a space to have authentic discussions, where teachers and parents come together to talk about these challenges and think of solutions together. Some of the outcomes included changing the uniform policy to one of non-gender specific uniforms, the use of religious outfits in class, support for adopted children and sons/daughters of same sex couples, and so on. There are many other examples of innovations such as the Parent Enrichment Talks, the Thinking Schools team, the Google Team, Learning Support and a highly recognized Teacher Training program.
- Mediation and leadership training content for both learners and parents employing a restorative value system
- Managerial innovation of setting up “team of teams” to advance the school’s mission (such as the “Thinking Team,” which focuses on the Thinking Schools methodology; and the “Diversity Team,” which discusses and helps integrate learners from different social and cultural backgrounds, and so on.)