"91 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION FOR LEARNERS WITH PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENTS"
1921 - 2013
Open Air School lies nestled in the suburb of Glenwood in Durban, surrounded by its neighbours, Glenwood High School and Glenwood Junior Primary School. It caters for approximately 260 learners, from pre-primary to grade 12, providing education to children with Special Educational Needs.
Embracing the school motto, "I can and I will", the learners persevere and many go on to excel in academics, sports and cultural activities. Open Air School boasts present and past learners who have gone on to compete provincially, nationally and internationally in various sporting codes.
The hostel, situated a stone’s throw away from UKZN Howard College Campus, provides a term-time home to many of the high school learners who live too far from the school to commute on a daily basis.
Open Air School opened its doors 92 years ago, on 9 February 1921. At first, only primary school children were catered for, but later, the school extended into a high school. Today, we offer education to children from Pre-Primary to Matric. At present, we have 279 learners with physical disabilities, of whom approximately 45% are indigent. Our hostel accommodates those who live in outlying rural areas. The children come from all social and economic backgrounds: 62% of our learners are Black, 14% are White, 21% are Indian and 3% are Coloured.
In 1997, Open Air School became part of the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department. The school is classified as an LSEN (Learners with Special Educational Needs) school and, as such, requires additional funding.
The school accepts learners from all race groups. The levels of disability range from mild to severe and include cerebral palsy, visual and hearing impairment, impairments suffered as a result of an injury, and hand/eye co-ordination problems, to name a few.
Our staffing structure differs considerably from mainstream schools: Because of the diverse nature of our learners, we need to employ specialist staff and educators. Headed by the principal, Mr Noel Moodley, the dedicated staff at Open Air School strive to provide specialised support to the learners, so that each one of them can fulfill his/her potential, with the vision that, when they leave the school, they will be confident, pro-active members of society.
The school offers a variety of therapies, including psychological, speech, physio and occupational therapies, while four professional nurses provide medical support.
The speech, occupational and physiotherapists work hand-in-hand with the psychologist, medical department, educators and teacher aides, to provide for the needs of the children and to ensure that they develop to their full potential.
Our learners follow a normal academic curriculum, with educators employing innovative and imaginative methods to adapt to the diverse needs of the learners. Instruction is in English. Learners can choose either Afrikaans or Zulu for their second language option.
We offer three skills-based training classes for the learners who need to learn skills rather than achieve academically.
Learners are given various extracurricular opportunities. In the field of paraplegic sport, our children do well. Many of them have received provincial colours in athletics, swimming, table tennis, boccia and wheelchair basketball. Two of our learners received national colours for wheelchair bastketball in 2012.
We have an active Interact Club, whose aim is to serve the community in the true spirit of Rotary. At present, we have a group of keen, dedicated learners in the Left Feet First Dance group. The natural singing talent many of our learners possess has been developed over the years by our excellent choirmaster, Mr Derek Stafford. The choir is frequently asked to perform at a variety of functions.
We don't always win in the things we enter, but we believe that participation is more important than winning.
Open Air School plays a vital role in educating physically challenged youngsters, empowering them to become independent, well-adjusted people, contributing to the enrichment of South African society.
We are a non-profit organisation and are BEE accredited.
Open Air School plays a vital role in educating physically challenged youngsters, empowering them to become independent, well-adjusted people, contributing to the enrichment of South African society. Our school is the platform on which our children shine, as we prepare them to become global citizens who can change the world.