LEAP Science and Maths Schools provide free education to underprivileged secondary school students from township communities. The schools require only a nominal fee from students, and otherwise are funded primarily by private donors. LEAP has opened six, independent, no-fee schools thus far:
- LEAP 1: The first LEAP school, serves the community of Langa on the Cape Flats.
- LEAP 2: Serves the townships of Gugulethu and Crossroads.
- LEAP 3: Serves Johannesburg’s historic Alexandra township.
- LEAP 4: Serves the growing township of Diepsloot outside Johannesburg.
- LEAP 5: Serves the Jane Furse community in Limpopo.
- LEAP 6: Serves the community of Ga-Rankuwa, near Pretoria.
The LEAP curriculum focuses particularly on science, mathematics, and English, aiming to provide students with skills that will prepare them for a successful future. A strong focus of the curriculum is also to foster self-confidence, as well as cultural and communal identity, characteristics that are sought by engaging students in community work and setting high expectations for their academic performance. Most of them also teach some of South Africa's home languages as well, including isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, and Sesotho, depending on the prevalence of those languages within the school's context.
Community partnerships are also a key part of LEAP’s holistic approach. Each of the six schools are partnered with a more privileged school, as well as other township schools in the region, to ensure that schools are able to share resources, opportunities and best practices. LEAP schools operate on an extended school day, 9-hour days, and include Saturday classes as well as formal holiday programs. Class sizes are limited in order to ensure that students have accountability and relationships are built within the classroom.
LEAP is a founding member of the South African Extraordinary Schools Coalition (SAESC), a group of intervention-based independent and public schools and organizations committed to providing quality education to socio-economically vulnerable children and advocating for increased government support.
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CEI approaches in action
Donation from parents to cover community outreach activities.
In addition to serving underprivileged township students within their own schools, LEAP also establishes partnerships with other schools in these communities, aiming to share resources and best practices.
LEAP’s first no-fee independent high school was established to serve the community of Langa, Cape Town in 2004, with a class of 72 young people. The school grew by one grade each year to reach a maximum capacity of 164 students in its first matriculation year in 2008, and 177 in the 2013 academic year. The model was replicated in 2007 with LEAP’s second school serving the communities of Gugulethu, Crossroads, and Khayelitsha, which has been steadily growing each year to reach a school total of 180 students in 2013.
In 2008, LEAP tested the application of its model on a national scale with the establishment of the first LEAP School in Johannesburg, serving the community of Alexandra. The school had 42 students in its founding year and has grown by one grade each year to reach a current total of 156 young people. In 2011 LEAP’s fourth school was established in Diepsloot, LEAP’s first school to be based inside the township it serves. The school has a current total of 144 young people.
In 2012, LEAP established two new schools in the communities of Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria and Jane Furse in Limpopo, both school replications were initiated due to strong education and community partnerships in the areas concerned. These schools are also growing at one grade per year, with the exception of Ga-Rankuwa, which has incorporated a grade 8 class. In 2013, LEAP established a small satellite school with one grade 9 class in the community of Delft, on the outskirts of Cape Town in partnership with Edunova.
LEAP plans to grow its emerging schools to full capacity over the next two academic years. In the short-term future, it plans to expand all its schools to include grade 8 classes, seeking to improve continuity from primary school through to high school. LEAP also places a high value on partnerships and collaboration and is working closely with Edunova in developing Math, Science, Technology, and Values (MSTV) centers in Duncan village, where a pilot began in 2013 (also in collaboration with Letsema Circle) and in Jane Furse, Limpopo.
The program is also focusing its efforts on developing school and organizational leadership as well as teacher capacity. This effort is based on best practice examples, picked up from partnerships with the charter school movement in the United States, as well as local examples. This will include the development of a comprehensive professional development program, which is tailored based on the priority needs of school teaching staff and will be rolled out at all LEAP schools over the coming year. Furthermore, LEAP aims to effect systemic change in the education landscape in South Africa by working with partners in the South African Extraordinary School Coalition (SAESC) to advocate government support for "Impact Schools," a network of high-performing low/no-fee schools that are funded through public-private partnerships (with high investment from government) and are independently managed and staffed to achieve results for young people.
Monitoring & Evaluation
LEAP has eight mark readings (school reports) per year. Students are assessed based on a combination of coursework and class tests. The results are loaded into LEAP’s intranet system and are analyzed across the course of the year. Students are then given a yearly average. Exams are held twice per year in June and December, except for Grade 12s, who area assessed in termly exams and final exams at the end of the year. This information is used to assess the academic needs of students and where specific support interventions need to be put in place. LEAP’s success is analyzed in the annual grade 12 NSC results which are analyzed across all schools, compared to national and provincial results as well as the results of similar independent schools and schools in the communities to which LEAP students belong.
Standardized Assessment Performance - Literacy | Grade 12 results: 100% pass rate in English (First Additional Language).
Standardized Assessment Performance - Numeracy | Grade 12 results: 89% pass in mathematics.
Standardized Assessment Performance - Other | Grade 12 results: 86% pass in science.
Grade 12 results: 94.7% pass rate.
Increase the number of students attending LEAP community intervention schools from 555 to 650 in 2012.
- 100% of LEAP students participate in LEAP’s life orientation program.
- 100% of LEAP students participate in their school’s community support and social development program.
- 72% of graduates pursue tertiary studies.
- All LEAP students take mathematics and science, compared to only 35% who wrote maths and 26% who wrote physical science nationally.