Wandsworth School for Children with Special Educational Needs has been operational since January 2007. The school began as a pre-primary school called Wiggles and Squiggles. It used the Foundation Stage Learning Modules, originating in the United Kingdom. Wandsworth School gradually began to attract children in the Randpark school district whose special physical, sensory and educational needs where not being met by other schools in the area.
Children with Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorders, various Genetic Syndromes, and multi-sensory disorders all benefitted from the high staff to child ratios and the progressive teaching methodologies. In 2010, Wandsworth fully embraced the Montessori philosophies, methodologies and mentorship techniques. The children now benefit from the diverse combination of the Foundation Stage and Montessori Curriculum, which facilitates children working through elementary milestones to age appropriate academic markers at their own pace. Each individual child is able to experience his world of learning through tactile, concrete equipment that goes beyond the microcosm of the classroom and extends into the macrocosm of everyday life.
The children work in a boundary-firm environment, where those who can, are encouraged to explore their environment, being creative, yet respectful, with the equipment. With the children who are more physically challenged, presentations are adapted to their abilities with their absorbent mind playing a significant role in assimilating the content presented. The children work methodically through the curriculum, enjoying a language-rich environment which meets both academic literacy and communication needs.
Wandsworth values the movement towards independence above all else. One of the first ways to achieve this is for a child to be able to communicate beyond their home and classroom. As an educational facility, we have had the privilege of being able to incorporate techniques like picture/symbol communication, sign language, low tech communication boards and various grid systems, on tablets, for those who can afford them. As has been our experience, no one single communication system suits every child throughout their lifetime. The same is true for academic physical, sensory and emotional milestone development. For this reason we make every effort to keep parents, therapists and teaching directresses in contact with one another, and continually revert back to our Individual Education programs (IEP), keeping up to date with each child’s needs and goals to help him realise his full potential.
As Wandsworth School has grown, so too have the children who have moved through the school since its inception. Some of our children are now very close to being of a Junior High School age, and because of this we have taken the decision to change our name from our Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) and NPO registered Wiggles and Squiggles name, to Wandsworth School for Special Educational Needs Children. The Wiggles and Squiggles Governing Body, directorship, trade registered names and registration numbers will remain the same for the foreseeable future.
Even with this small change, our special children and their families will still receive the same high-quality service, care and education that they are used to. Our new comers will be hard-pressed to find a facility filled with more love, light, knowledge and educational passion than what is offered at Wandsworth Special Needs School, the Gauteng LSEN School of Choice - embracing your special needs child.
whether big or small,
academic or otherwise,
shared and celebrated.
ABOUT SUE FOWLDS - Founding Member
Sue gained a Bachelor of Physical Education at Wits in 1996, majoring in Psychology, Physical Education, and later, English through UNISA. Sue attained distinctions in her teaching subjects and was awarded 'Student of the Year' in 1996. She was offered a teaching post at Rand Park High School in the English, Phys. Ed. and Life Orientation Departments and was elected as a school counselor, before traveling to the UK with her husband in June 2000.
Sue worked as a supply teacher at a number of special schools in and around London for a few months before being offered a permanent position at Paddock School, where she taught for 5 and a half years in the Reception
(5-7 years old) and Early Years (3 to 5 years old) classes. It was at Paddock that she gained experience and training in special needs education, which included: Autism, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children) principles, as well as Epilepsy management, Sensory Integration and Makaton sign language.
Sue started Wandsworth School, as Wiggles and Squiggles School from her home in January 2007 with one child on a part time basis, and the school has grown steadily from there. Sue continued her education qualifications and completed her Montessori diploma through the North American Montessori Center in May 2010.
Sue not only integrated her local and international teaching experience into Wandsworth School but guided and led the staff members with her knowledge and passion. Sue’s unwavering, strength of character and high standards were evident on a daily basis whether she was managing a class, staff, parents or suppliers and sponsors. She was always hands on and physically involved in the day to day running of the school, teacher support, child management and education.
In the ten years that Sue had been a part of Wandsworth School she imparted invaluable knowledge to teachers, support staff, therapists and parents alike. All placed a great deal of trust in her and she reciprocated their trust by delivering on the services she promised.
The ethos and ethics established while Sue was in South Africa are ingrained in the staff and daily teaching practices, providing a strong backbone for Wandsworth to move forward in special needs education.