South Africa: The Whistle Stop School's Fast Track to Literacy


In Grahamstown, Gadra Education's new Whistle Stop School is succeeding where no-fees schools appear to be failing. In just one year the school raised the literacy levels of a Grade 3 class by two years - a reminder that all South African children are equally teachable. The WSS is a resource-intensive literacy intervention that has no obligations to the formal CAPS curriculum. Instead, it relies on highly qualified staff and strong relationships between small groups of learners and their teacher.

The sound of approaching laughter and chattering can be heard in the brightly-decorated Whistle Stop School (WSS) classroom at St Mary's Primary School in Grahamstown. The learners rush into the classroom competing for the attention of their teacher, Kelly Long, who hugs each child individually before asking them to settle down and prepare for the lesson. Today, the learners are working on their Memory Books, where they write about what they have learned at the WSS. While they work on this, Long is individually testing the reading skills of each child using DIBELS tests.

Gadra launched the WSS in partnership with St Mary's Development and Care Centre...

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