Due to their fresh approach to education, combined with their business acumen, Stacey Brewer and Ryan Harrison, founders of SPARK Schools, have been recognised for their passion to provide a solution to the education challenges in South Africa. The duo have been awarded the Innovator of the Year® award at the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS awards ceremony, which was held this morning in Johannesburg.
SPARK Schools is a network of primary schools dedicated to delivering accessible, high quality education by using a blended learning programme, which combines traditional classroom teaching and online learning, to individualise education for all students. The SPARK Schools model is the first of its kind for primary school students in Africa and the software SPARK scholars use is adaptive, allowing for highly individualised student practice and assessment.
SPARK Ferndale, the first school in the SPARK Schools network, opened in 2013, and achieved tremendous results in its first year of operation. Following on this success, the number of schools in the network has grown by 700%, with the number of scholars and staff members having grown by 1411% and 1300% respectively. The SPARK Schools networkcurrently includes a SPARK Cresta (opened in 2014); SPARK Maboneng and SPARK Bramley (both opened in 2015); SPARK Midrand, SPARK Lynedoch (Stellenbosch), SPARK Rynfield and SPARK Centurion (all opened in 2016).
According to the competition’s judging panel, it was SPARK Schools’ competitive advantage and solid business model that made the business stand out above the rest. “They don’t only have the curriculum right, but also the correct mix of quality and price, thereby making it accessible to all. This is set to make a huge impact on South Africa,” the judges commented.
School fees are benchmarked on what government’s total cost to educate is and the business ensures that “affordable” means affordable to the country. In terms of cost, SPARK Schools are therefore cheaper than government schools and significantly cheaper than private schools, while in terms of quality, the SPARK Schools’ students are outperforming the national standard by at least one level. This combination of lower price and great quality is what sets SPARK Schools apart from competitors.
Stacey and Ryan are true innovators who have taken the current structure of education in South Africa and challenged it. The duo, who are dedicated to making a difference in the future of South Africa’s children, aims to inspire others by their success. “At SPARK, we aim to inspire fellow South Africans to ensure that they address the issues facing the country and to make sure that South Africa is better because of them. We hope that by winning such a prestige award such as this, other South Africans will be encouraged to serve and address the needs of our country,” the duo concludes.
Visit www.sparkschools.co.za for more information on SPARK Schools.