Spark Schools: Story, Founders, Investors & Funding Rounds
SPARK Schools was co-founded by Stacey Brewer and Ryan Harrison in 2012. Concerned by the state of South African education they committed to finding a solution.
They believed that an innovative approach could disrupt the crisis in South African education and dedicated themselves to creating a new model that would provide access to high-quality education at an affordable cost.
SPARK Ferndale, the first school in the SPARK Schools network, opened in 2013 in Gauteng, Johannesburg.
Since then, the network has expanded to serve 14,000 SPARK Scholars at 19 primary schools and 1 high school across Gauteng and The Western Cape.
They are committed to opening new schools across the country every year because they believe that South African parents and children deserve access to an excellent education.
At SPARK Schools, learning is personalized to serve the needs of each student. Using traditional teaching and technology, we ensure that all SPARK scholars achieve.
PARK Schools educators are qualified professionals who receive 245 hours per year of professional development and coaching annually.
At SPARK Schools, the path to university and a successful career begins immediately. In addition to preparing students academically, they focus on social-emotional development to equip our students for their bright futures.
The company’s vision is for South Africa to lead global education. This vision is not limited to SPARK Schools but aims to ensure that the standard of education in South Africa is elevated so that it becomes an inspiration to the rest of the world.
The SPARK Schools’ mission is to provide affordable, globally competitive education to South African families who may previously have been unable to access this quality of education.
This mission is evidenced by the goal that every SPARK scholar should have the opportunity to go to university and enter a career of their choice. This idea passionately drives all they do.
At a school level, they aim to spark greatness within each child because shaping children to be well-rounded and responsible global citizens will ultimately spark change and drive their nation forward.
Additionally, the school network is a pioneer in blended learning, an educational approach that combines teacher-led instruction with adaptive education technology to provide students with an individualized, highly effective experience.
How it Works
Primary School Model
The SPARK Schools education model ensures that every child develops a love of learning and makes great academic progress.
SPARK Schools offers a unique individualized educational opportunity for students because of the focus on each student’s needs in the classroom and using online learning.
SPARK uses a combination of direct classroom instruction and technology-based learning where data from each child is fed back to the teacher. This empowers teachers to cater to each child’s individual needs, resulting in scholars who achieve globally competitive academic results.
Lab Rotation Model
A lab rotation model is a form of blended learning that is used in the Foundation Phase of SPARK schools for Grades R to 3.
The model includes a combination of teacher-directed learning in Literacy, Maths, Life Skills, Physical Education, and a First Additional Language with technology-enriched learning in the Learning Labs.
Scholars experience one-on-one teaching, small group learning, or whole group instruction, based on their requirements, during the school day.
The Flex Model is a form of blended learning that is used in the Intermediate Phase of SPARK Schools for Grades 4 to 7.
Scholars move through a personally customized schedule learning Literacy, Maths, Natural Science Social Science, and a First Additional Language.
The model aims to: Create autonomy and purpose in learning, Improve mastery of objectives, Build intrinsic motivation in students, and Promote daily reflections to prepare students for university.
SPARK Schools is aligned with South African national standards and seeks to extend scholar learning to meet international grade-level standards.
Therefore, each curriculum used encompasses the requirements of the CAPS curriculum and deepens scholar knowledge to make SPARK scholars globally competitive.
Their curriculum is based on dynamic and individualized teaching, which ensures that scholars are learning the curriculum in new ways that are interesting for them.
Research has shown that children can learn better when they’re well-nourished, and eating healthy meals has been linked to higher marks, improved memory and alertness, and faster information processing.
Therefore parents partner with them to provide scholars with healthy food to fuel their learning.
High School Model
The High School learning model comprises four components, which are Skills, Inquiry, Online, and study.
During the school day, scholars spend 30% Online and studying and 70% face-to-face in Skills or Inquiry.
Scholar schedules include allocated time specifically for assigned online content and activities aligned with what they are learning in class with their teachers.
This is the direct instruction component of the model. During skills time, scholars receive instruction from a qualified educator.
The Inquiry component of the model is used for the delivery of cross-curricular projects (XC Projects).
The XC Projects drive curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that are transferable and ensure that scholars are future-relevant.
Scholars engage with roughly 30% of the learning material through online learning and independent study.
Scholar timetables include allocated time for online content and activities aligned with what they are learning in class with their teachers.
The Study component of the model builds responsibility, self-determination, and discipline through independent study.
During the study, scholars learn how to drive their learning. Study becomes particularly important as scholars begin to prepare for their matriculation examinations.
Social & Emotional Development
SPARK High School delivers more than the required CAPS hours for life orientation through a course based on the Character Quotient Framework.
The Character Quotient Framework drives scholar social-emotional development and prepares scholars for tertiary and career.
Stacey Brewer is the Founder and CEO at SPARK Schools.
Stacey is also an experienced Co-Founder with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry.
She is a strong business development professional who graduated from the Gordon Institute of Business Science.
Investors & Funding Rounds
Creadev, Finnfund, Imaginable Futures
SPARK Schools announced the closing of its Series C to support the company’s next phase of growth.
This funding will be instrumental in consolidating SPARK’s existing network and expanding primary and secondary schools across Africa to reach 35,000+ scholars in the next 10 years.
The round was led by Creadev, together with the Finnish development finance institution Finnfund and existing SPARK shareholder Imaginable Futures.
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