Knowledge Network will be trading in Australia under the trademark KnowNet.
           
 
Release date 10 Sep 2002
   
Published in:
Delegate material (CD) for Educator Conference in Port Elizabeth
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

"Challenging programme that fulfills our goals in allowing our children to: think for themselves, develop their unique talents to the fullest, and acquire valuable life skills"
 
St George's Preparatory School was founded in 1936 by Raymond Hutchinson to provide a private school education for boys aged 7-14 and prepare them for Public Schools in South Africa and overseas.

 

Knockfierna (Hill of Fairies or Truth), one of the stately family houses of Port Elizabeth, was originally built as a beautiful grand Victorian Mansion by John Daverin, who was a successful Wool Merchant, in 1899. John and his wife, Clothilda, brought up their 7 children in the grand style befitting this era.

   
John Daverin died in 1922, and Knockfierna was sold to James Harroway who later sold it to Raymond Hutchinson, from London.

A few milestones:

  • 1936. The first enrolment numbered about 50 boys with approximately 25% being boarders.

  • 1987 Our school became co-ed

  • Enrolment 270 boys and girls

With small classes (20-25 children) and the school's flexible, innovative, broadly-based approach to education, every child enjoys all the attention and stimulation necessary to make learning a rewarding journey of discovery.  We aim to provide our boys and girls with an exceptional, progressive, holistic education in a happy, caring, yet disciplined Christian environment which encourages pupils to :

 

  • think for themselves
  • enjoy the experiences of learning in a wide range of educational, sporting, cultural and social activities
  • develop their unique talents to the fullest
  • acquire valuable life skills
  • consider and serve others
  • accept responsibility and the challenges of life today.

In pursuing these goals we are committed to maintaining small classes, ensuring that our pupils receive individualized attention from their teachers. Access to many facilities and up-to-date technology and equipment ensure that our objectives are achieved.

It was with these goals in mind that in 1985 the first computers were installed in the school, a bank of ten BBC “B” micro computers, linked in a network. These were incredible machines, dependable and practically maintenance free, while serving the required purpose of those days. Mathematic and English programmes were used together with the famous “logo” programme, with the turtle being programmed to draw patterns and pictures. A touch-typing programme was used to teach the pupils the art of typing. The classes were small and each child was able to sit at their own computer.

 

The numbers increased, and in order to keep each child at his/her own computer a lesson was shared with the Library next door, and then with the change in technology and computers being replaced in state schools we were donated some BBC Compact and “B” computers and we were once again able to have a whole class in the computer room.
 
In 1995 we were able to add five “modern” Acorn 3020 computers to the network. These computers, working on a ‘windows’ based system were very good and we were able to introduce word processing, spreadsheets, databases and graphs, while maintaining the use of the old programmes, typing and “logo”. We also had a hand-held scanner and a disc drive and the pupils produced excellent projects. As the Acorn machines were made for educational purpose there were a lot of Educational programmes available for the system.
 

With the introduction of e-mail and the “World wide Web” we could not find an internet provider who could host the Acorn system and we were forced to look at different computer systems, and we were forced to go the PC – Microsoft route.

     
In 1995 our Governing body took the decision to duel stream the school. (2 classes per standard). This necessitated the building of new classrooms and in October 1998 we were able to install our new computer network into a classroom in the new wing. The old computers still being used by the junior school until they were unfortunately phased out in 1999 when the room was required as an art classroom.
We were very proud of the network which consisted of twenty five (25) Pentium 1 computers on a 10 megabit network, operating system NT4. We also had a laser printer and a flatbed scanner on the network and access to a colour printer. We ran Microsoft Office and Encarta 95 and a Maths Trek programme.

   
We installed an internet connection to surf the web and each child from Grade 4 to Grade 7 had his/her own e-mail address. The children made use of the facilities for assignment purposes but we felt that the IT Centre was not being utilized to its full potential so we started to look around for more educational programs or an educational system that would fulfill our needs. After much research we decided to go the Knowledge Network route.

In education there is always the debate as to which is the best route to go – computers in the classroom or a room dedicated to computers. In 2000 we found that, with the change in technology, the programmes bigger and better, old programmes redundant and no longer available, our 10 megabit network was taking strain and not only becoming very slow but also unreliable, with many programmes not running  so we upgraded the computer room to 25 Pentium Celeron 700s on a 100 megabit network using a Pentium 3 server, in 2001. The old computers were not discarded but were placed in the classrooms where the slowness and reliability were not so crucial. The grade 7 and 6 classrooms each have 4 computers and the Grade 5 classes 3 each, still connected to the internet to enable the pupils to research their topics during their normal class periods if necessary.

We are very fortunate, at St George’s, to have a room dedicated to computers and owing to the size of the school, we are able to give each child access to the computers. The Pre-Primary have one lesson a week, Grade 2 and 3 two lessons and from Grade 4 upwards 3 lessons a week. Thus we were able to accommodate the Knowledge Network programme and still have some time for research, educational programmes and typing skills each week.

We joined the Knowledge Network Schools Partnership programme in 1999. For the first year we ran with Grade 6 and 7 followed the next year by Grades 5, 6 and 7. This year we have introduced Grade 4 into the system, and with a second teacher Knowledge Network trained we hope to be able to run the programme throughout the school in the near future. 

 
We have found the programme to be very well structured to the level of the children, creating a challenge in the assignments and yet of a nature that even the week child can see a result at the end of the lesson. The variety of work covered, from simple paint through word processing and spreadsheets to slide presentations in power point, keeps the interest of the children.  The freedom to use their imaginations in the assignments have thrilled many who have produced excellent work while the weaker child has felt secure just reproducing work and being able to produce some result. I have also found the syllabus to be relevant to work outside the classroom and I was very pleased when a group of children were able to mail-merge work for a teacher the other day.

In January 2001 our St George’s College opened it doors, and owing to its proximity to the Preparatory School, they are able to share our facilities, including the computer room.  We introduced the Knowledge Network programme into the College as well and this year offer it to the Grade 8 and 9 pupils. Being in a closed environment it is not always possible to see the results achieved by the pupils, there is always a tendency to compare the achievements of the weaker pupil to those of the brighter pupil, thus leading to the impression that the weak child is not achieving. I have found it very rewarding to take the College students as this allows me to compare the work of my Knowledge Network trained pupils with the work of pupils who have not come through the Knowledge Network system, and I have found that even my weakest pupils achieve very well.

As I look back over my years at St Georges, I can see the great advances we have made, we have moved from a computer facility with 10 BBC computers, in a simple network, to a modern facility, that any school would be proud of.  From a secretary’s office with a word processor to computers in the Headmaster’s office, bursar’s office, library, pre-primary, secretary’s office, deputy’s office, class-rooms and the IT Centre (55 in all). To what do we owe this success? Firstly to our School’s goals, then to our Headmaster, Governing body and those parents that have ensured that those goals have been maintained even in times of great hardship. I would also give credit to Mr Tony Bosch of the Microdoctor, who installed the first computers into the school in 1985 and who has been looking after our computer interests now for the past 17 years. He has worked long hours installing networks during holiday periods and over weekends so that there would not be disruptions to classes. He has always born in mind that we are a school, and cash strapped, and so has looked for workable solutions to our problems instead of the easier more expensive route and he has always seen the solution through. He almost regards our network as his own and knows all its faults and quirks. Dependable in a crisis. Thank you Tony.

More importantly I can see that we have moved from programming a turtle, to a modern, exciting, challenging programme that fulfills our goals in allowing our children to

  • think for themselves
  • develop their unique talents to the fullest
  • acquire valuable life skills

P.J.Maughan-Brown
I.T teacher at St.George’s Prep

 

 

 

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Date of update: 18 February 2009