Cambridge International is a British curriculum taught widely across the world, including South Africa. The high school equivalent consists of three levels: IGCSE, AS and A levels. The IGCSE (International Graduate Certificate of Secondary Education) is typically for ages 14-16 with the AS and A level for ages 16-19. We also offer a Pre-IGCSE program to younger learners from ages 11-14. (Learn more about the Cambridge system from the Cambridge International website.)
The Cambridge curriculum is offered in South Africa by a growing number of institutions. Several private and public schools are Cambridge-affiliated and offer their learners this option.
There are also a large number of online content providers locally and abroad who target home-schooled South Africans. Since Covid-19, online home-schooling has grown in popularity, and these service providers have rapidly increased their learner numbers into the tens of thousands, often without building the additional capacity required to support their learners. Private tutoring centres often fill these gaps.
The Chapel Lane Academy is a private tutor centre where home-schooled learners can enrol for a full course offering or individual subjects, without having to register with either a formal school or with an online curriculum content provider.
‘Bespoke’ means to be ‘highly personalised or customised’. It is a term that was originally used in the textile and fashion industries, where the finest clothes were cut to exact measurement and specification by the very best specialist tailors.
Our Academy limits our annual learner numbers to double digits, so that we may know each learner and their parents by name. Our individual class sizes per subject are further limited to five (5) learners in a group, taught live and online by PhDs, Ivy League graduates and other advanced academics, with plenty of opportunity for interesting discussions and questions. Even the most expensive private schools in the country run classes four- to fivefold this size.
We plan your child’s academic pathway and subjects together with you personally, based on various important insights shared among us. You can call us directly at any given time.
Your child will also have permanent and immediate access to each teacher, ready to assist any time of the day or night and any day of the week, rain or shine. When the learner needs guidance, we are there.
In short, we see the strength of the modern technology platforms that we use as offering an experience where your child can “put up a hand with a question anytime, wherever they are”. That is the kind of personal attention, the ‘bespoke’ service offered by our Academy.
Per definition, our Academy is a private tutoring centre and your child is home-schooled with our online tutoring support. Learners up to the age of 15 are required to be registered with the Department of Basic Education and we will advise parents about the process in their respective provinces.
Post-Covid, we will offer the option of in-person sessions to learners based nearer to our Academy in Rondebosch, Cape Town.
Learners from ages 11 (Grade 6 equivalent) to 19 (Matric + 1 year equivalent) can complete all of their schooling required for university exemption locally and abroad through our program.
We also tutor learners registered at other schools or on other program who need support in specific subjects, or whose schools may not offer a particular subject.
We follow the Cambridge curriculum strictly and comprehensively, and our learners write their exams as private candidates at accredited CAIE exam centres. We fully guide our learners’ families through this exam registration process, made easy by our close working relationship with such centres.
Accreditation is not a requirement to provide the Cambridge curriculum. Being accredited by CAIE is typically reserved for mainstream, traditional schools. Small, private academies such as Chapel Lane do not have the option of applying for this type of accreditation.
In the Sciences, our Academy offers:
- Biology (IGCSE, AS & A)
- Chemistry (IGCSE, AS & A)
- Combined & Coordinated Sciences (IGCSE Only)*
- Computer Science (pre-IGCSE, IGCSE, AS Only)*
- Mathematics (pre-IGCSE, IGCSE, Additional, AS & A)
- Natural Sciences (pre-IGCSE)
- Physics (IGCSE, AS & A)
In the Humanities and Social Sciences, course options include:
- Accounting (IGCSE, AS & A)
- Business Studies (IGCSE, AS & A)
- Development Studies (IGCSE Only)*
- Economics (pre-IGCSE, IGCSE, AS, A)
- Environmental Management (IGCSE & AS Only)*
- Geography (IGCSE, AS & A)
- History (IGCSE, AS & A)
- Psychology (AS, A – but not offered at IGCSE)*
- Social Sciences (pre-IGCSE)
- Sociology (IGCSE, AS, A)
- Travel and Tourism (IGCSE, AS, A)
- Afrikaans (IGCSE & AS)
- English Language (IGCSE, AS & A)
- English Literature (IGCSE, AS & A)
- isiZulu (IGCSE Only)*
* Course levels are limited for private candidate, a restriction imposed either by Cambridge International or by local examination centres.
As a private academy we currently cannot accommodate any Cambridge classes that include a studio practical, such as Art or Music. Our learners pursue these interests privately as extra-curricular activities.
Our Academy will allow learners who are studying independently, are enrolled in a full-time brick-and-mortar school, or who feel let down by an online Cambridge curriculum content provider to sign-up for specific subjects only, rather than following a full curriculum plan. Fees are adjusted accordingly.
The Cambridge curriculum allows private students the option to write exam papers that offer an alternative to lab practicals at IGCSE level, where a theoretical understanding of the laboratory equipment and practice is examined. Should a learner prefer the practical experience, or when they reach AS/A level, we collaborate with centres that offer such sessions.
Our learners work from the comfort of their own homes, using the best available education technology to interact with our teachers and other learners. Classes meet on Zoom and course materials are shared via Google Classroom. We recommend hard copy textbooks.
Given teenagers’ body clocks, and the pain of getting most of them out of bed early in the day, our Zoom sessions are never scheduled before 10h00, and some run into the early evenings, Mondays to Thursdays.
Each learner joins, on average, four to five Zoom sessions across their various subjects each week, where the schedule of work is reviewed, key concepts for the next chapters are introduced and explained, and the important sections are highlighted. After the introductory lesson, the learner works through the assigned chapter independently and completes assignments that are turned in via Google Classroom.
During the course of the week, with self-study and when completing assignments, we offer immediate Whatsapp support if and when learners experience problems. We have worked on Math with some learners way after midnight, when these particular teenagers were at their sharpest.
Closer to exams, there are plenty of additional sessions, including Fridays and weekends, to help learners get the maximum preparation. The number of distinctions that our learners achieve suggests that this approach is useful.
Working at the required tempo, learners have at least four to five hours of daylight free to pursue other interests and extra-curricular activities.
The real strength of our programme is the highly personal involvement with each learner, so we never have more than five learners in a group. More often, classes only have two or three learners, given our learners’ diverse interests.
Teenagers seem to find this small group format comforting, compared to facing a tutor one-on-one and feeling somewhat exposed or vulnerable. Our intimate class size allows us to offer the 24/7 level of personal support via Whatsapp that our leaners value highly. There is not another school in this country where a learner has this level of direct access to all of his or her teachers personally at all hours.
Our learners tell us that they greatly value our 24/7 Whatsapp support. That means that when the learner is busy working on a subject and encounters difficulty, they can get immediate, personal help from the teacher who is directly responsible for this class. Too often, at brick-and-mortar schools, the learner has to wait until they next see a teacher. With most online programs, learners have to wait until some impersonal customer service centre returns emailed answers, and so the learning opportunity is often missed. With our immediate help, this is where we most often see those “aha” moments when learners make a breakthrough in their understanding.
Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) issues formal certificates recording IGCSE and A level results. Pre-IGCSE learners receive an annual report documenting their academic progress in each of their subjects.
Learners enrolled with private institutions such as The Chapel Lane Academy are classified as home-schooled according to the educational authorities. That means that parents accept final responsibility for their child’s progress. Our Academy guides and supports you through this process. This involves choosing subjects, obtaining textbooks, teaching the curriculum live online, assessing your child’s progress, getting registered for exams, and helping with exam preparation. We unequivocally consider parental involvement and support to be an integral part of our learners’ success.
Your child will need a gmail account plus laptop/pc (ideally, but an iPad could work) and smartphone, with high-speed, unlimited wi-fi access. For Math, Chemistry, Physics and Economics, classes seem to work best when learners have touchscreen-enabled devices so that our teachers and learners can work together on-screen.
Assignments frequently include written work that needs to be turned in, and the ability to either print worksheets or convert them to open electronic files will be required. The free suite of Google docs, worksheets and slides plus the Google drive that come with a Google account is sufficient. A good printer and scanner (or a smartphone that can scan completed assignments) would be essential.
All classes are presented via Zoom, and course schedules, milestones, assignments, and deadlines are posted via Google Classroom.
We encourage parents to become familiar with the technology and to monitor their children’s Google Classrooms.
Our main platform for communicating academic work-plans, posting assignments, and recording grades is Google Classroom. Our parents log in to this platform with their children to ensure their child is up to date, to monitor performance, and to retrieve specific helpful comments. You will also receive personal communication if we observe any cause for concern with your child’s progress, as and when required.
Our calendar is not cast in stone, yet is broadly based on the WCED calendar. Most courses kick-off in January or in July, working towards either May/June or Oct/Nov exams. We regularly take on learners through the course of each term who ambitiously started independent self-study only to realise they need help, or who signed-up with aggressively marketed online Cambridge curriculum providers who fell short on the support promised to the learner.
If a learner decides to join our program outside of regular dates, we consult with the parents and propose a course of action. This might require individual sessions to help the learner catch up to a group, the creation of a new group if there are multiple students interested to start the course, or the continuation of one-on-one lessons.
Learners write exams as and when they feel adequately prepared, either during May/June or October/November each year. Some subject exams can only be sat during the Oct/Nov period, notably Afrikaans AS.
Our Academy has a close working relationship with several Cambridge International affiliated high schools that are examination centres for private students such as ours.
In Cape Town, our learners write either at the International School of Cape Town (ISCT) campus or at Somerset College.
Learners register directly with the centres for exams. We facilitate this process for parents to make sure all is in place, and parents pay the fees directly to the centre. Grading happens in the UK according to very structured marking schemes, and results are returned about 6-8 weeks later.
Cambridge International supports inclusive learning, and special arrangements for those with disabilities who need access, require extra time, readers or scribes, and more can apply for accommodation.
South Africa falls within Cambridge International’s Zone 3. This is relevant when consulting exam series timetables or when you need to verify whether a particular course is examined locally.
Once you have expressed interest, we will set up a virtual consultation with you and your child. We will request information on past academic performance, behavioural aspects, and special learning needs. The purpose is to determine your family’s long-term and immediate ambitions for your child’s learning. We will then present you with a suggested selection of courses and a proposed annual schedule of classes to make a final determination on your side.
We work on a good faith basis and do not expect you to read through long, restrictive or punitive legal documents. Our belief is that there is no value for anyone in forcing a family into paying for a process that does not suit their child.
Learners can join The Chapel Lane Academy any time of the year. Ideally, learners register at the beginning or middle of the year to be fully synchronised with current subject groups. We will either create a new group if there are sufficient learners keen on starting the subject at a later stage, or work with your child one-on-one to help them catch up to an existing group.
There is so much information to consider, so herewith the critical elements you may want summarised:
- Our program is a comprehensive alternative to attending your local brick-and-mortar school from ages 11-19. You can also register your child for individual subjects only.
- Your child works from home, connected online with our Academy.
- We will personally advise your family on your child’s subject choices, grade level milestones, and proposed exam dates.
- Online classes are taught live, with a maximum of five learners in a group and the teacher will know your child’s name and face and monitor their progress personally.
- There is daily class contact Monday to Thursday, and a weekly schedule of work.
- Your child will have free time on hand to pursue other interests. You will know immediately if your child is falling behind. Your child can contact each teacher personally 24/7 for immediate help.
- Course work and exam preparation are geared towards high achievement, yet your family decides where you set your child’s goals.
- Cambridge qualifications lead to university exemption.
- Our fees can be compared to quality public school fees and are less than 50% of private schools, despite the low teacher-learner ratio and high quality, personal support.
- There are neither cancellation periods nor penalties should our program not deliver what your child needs.
The journey starts with a phone call to us where you can ask all the questions you still have and share with us as much as what you deem fit about your child. This will be the first of many discussions through the next couple of years, as we stay in close contact with all learners’ parents. We see you as an integral part of your child’s success.