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Frequently Asked Questions

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Academics

What type of curriculum is offered at St Stithians Online High School?

An internationally recognised and accredited Pearson Edexcel curriculum is offered at SSOS with the following qualifications: International GCSE, International AS Levels and International A Levels (offered from mid-2022).

Why Pearson Edexcel?

Pearson Edexcel is the world’s leading learning company. By combining world-class qualification standards with a forward-thinking approach and international content, Pearson qualifications are the ideal pathway to the top universities – offering today’s students access to tomorrow’s global and unlimited opportunities.

Will the international curriculum stay relevant to the South African population?

Yes. The curriculum will be continuously reviewed to ensure relevance to the African context.

What online learning platform does St Stithians Online High School operate on?

SSOS is run on Canvas, one of the world’s leading Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Is there an academic schedule and are there live teaching sessions?

Yes, students attend online classes as per the academic schedule during weekdays, with gaps between live sessions for studying, passion projects and other commitments.

Does St Stithians Online High School have homerooms?

Yes, students are allocated a homeroom for the duration of their qualification. Each homeroom is supervised by the student success mentor. New homerooms and mentors are confirmed at the start of each new qualification level.

How many students are in classes?

SSOS students participate in a number of interactive learning activities, and the number of students differs in each. There are live teaching sessions per subject with the wider community which can range from 20 to 50 students, breakout live sessions with smaller groups of roughly between five to 10 students, homeroom sessions with a student’s mentor group and learning compass sessions with between 10 to 15 students. SSOS is about building community and providing opportunities for engagement in a range of settings with mentors, teachers and other students.

Which languages are offered by St Stithians Online High School?

English is the medium of instruction for SSOS students, and additional languages currently offered, include French and Afrikaans. Students completing French will write the Pearson Edexcel exam, and students completing Afrikaans will write the Cambridge exam as independent candidates. The process of registering as an independent candidate for Afrikaans will be guided by SSOS and any associated fees will be for the student’s account. SSOS is exploring the possibility of offering additional African languages from January 2023. This will be communicated in due course.

How can a guardian check on their child’s academic progress?

Internally we monitor your child's academics every week. If we are concerned, we will reach out to discuss your child's progress but you can always schedule time with the dedicated mentor to discuss your child's progress. We also encourage guardians to make extensive use of our guardian community platform. Login details will be shared with you upon enrolment at SSOS.

Admissions

Who can I speak with if I would like some more information?

Speak to our friendly admissions team – they are happy to assist you through your entire application process -  admissions@ssos.valentureonline.com

What is an Admissions Counsellor?

Admissions Counsellor are available to assist prospective students and parents with any questions regarding our offering. They’re also there to provide you with step-by-step guidance on the admissions journey and application process.

How can I apply?

By going to our application page. ur friendly admissions team is looking forward to hearing from you and supporting you step-by-step throughout the entire process.

How can I request a telephonic call or assistance from an Admissions Counsellor?

The admissions team would love to hear from you and assist with any questions that you may have. Please click here to request a call.

What are the entrance requirements for St Stithians Online High School?

The entrance requirements for SSOS are detailed in our admission policy.

Are any assessments involved in the application process?

Yes, your child may need to complete an English and/or Mathematics assessment during the application process including a CAT4 Assessment. The CAT4 assesses cognitive reasoning abilities.

Is there an application deadline?

Yes, all applications need to be completed two weeks before the start of each enrolment.

What are the enrolment periods and duration of each qualification?

Qualification

Qualification Length (maybe less for late enrolments)

Enrolment Period

Junior High (grades 8/9)

Maximum of 18 Months

January

Int. GCSE (grades 10/11)

18 Months

January

Int. GCSE (grades 10/11)

Maximum of 24 Months

July

Int. AS Levels (grade12)

Maximum of 12 Months

July

Int. A Levels (grade 13)**Commencing July 2022

Maximum of 12 Months

July

Qualification

Junior High (grades 8/9)

Maximum of 18 Months

January or July

Int. GCSE (grades 10/11)

Maximum of 18 Months

January

Int. GCSE (grades 10/11)

Maximum of 24 Months

July

Int. AS Levels (grade12)

Maximum of 12 Months

July

Int. A Levels (grade 13) **Commencing July 2022

Maximum of 12 Months

July

Do you have an application fee? If so, how much is it?

Yes, a non-refundable application fee of R900 is payable upon application for all our qualifications. This fee is to cover the cost of any assessments that may be necessary to adhere to our admissions criteria. Please note that an application does not guarantee placement, as students are required to successfully complete the application process.

If I apply, will my child have a guaranteed placement at St Stithians Online High School?

No, we are not an open enrolment school. However, we look at every application holistically and strive to be as inclusive as possible.

How long does the application process take?

The application process takes between 2-3 weeks from the start of your application to receiving your offer letter.

What does a St Stithians Online High School student’s progression look like?
If enrolling in January:

Entering at Junior High

Entering at International GCSE

Jan 2022

Junior High (18 months)

Jan 2022

Jan 2022

Int. GCSE (18 months)

Jan 2022

Jul 2023

Int. GCSE (24 months)

Jul 2023

Jul 2023

Int. AS Levels (12 months)

Jul 2023

Jul 2025

Int. AS Levels (12 months)

Jul 2025

Jul 2024

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Jul 2024

Jul 2026

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Jul 2026

Int. GCSE (18 months)

Entering at Junior High

Jan 2022

Junior High (18 months)

Jan 2022

Jan 2022

Int. GCSE (18 months)

Jan 2022

Jul 2023

Int. GCSE (24 months)

Jul 2023

Jul 2023

Int. AS Levels (12 months)

Jul 2023

Entering at International GCSE

Jul 2025

Int. AS Levels (12 months)

Jul 2025

Jul 2024

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Jul 2024

Jul 2026

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Jul 2026

If enrolling in July:

Entering at International GCSE

Entering at International AS Levels

Jul 2021

Int. GCSE (24 months)

Jul 2021

Jul 2021

Int. AS Levels (12 months)

Jul 2021

Jul 2023

Int. AS Levels (12 months)

Jul 2023

Jul 2022

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Jul 2022

Jul 2024

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Jul 2024

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Entering at International GCSE

Jul 2021

Int. GCSE (24 months)

Jul 2021

Jul 2021

Int. AS Levels (12 months)

Jul 2021

Jul 2023

Int. AS Levels (12 months)

Jul 2023

Entering at International AS Levels

Jul 2022

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Jul 2022

Jul 2024

Int. A Levels (12 months)

Jul 2024

What does the St Stithians Online High School academic calendar look like?

The academic calendar for each qualification is influenced by the final international examinations which are determined by Pearson Edexcel. These examinations (Int. GCSE, Int. AS Levels and Int. A Levels) take place in May/June and in some cases October/November of each year. Each qualification has semesters which are divided into terms. Please consult the calendar framework available on the Junior High, International GCSE, International AS Level pages.‍

Boutique Campus

What is a Boutique Campus?

Our Boutique Campuses (BCs) are physical spaces that provide a unique environment where our online high school students interact and collaborate with peers in person while studying in live online classes. The campuses provide students with personalised guidance from our on-site learning coaches and a variety of impressive facilities and services. Think of a “co-working space” for students. BCs are Valenture campuses for the exclusive use of SSOS students.

Is a Boutique Campus accessible to all online students?

Only online students who have applied to attend a BC (at an additional cost) are allowed to access each campus.

How many Boutique Campuses are there?

There are currently two Boutique Campuses at SSOS; one in Dunkeld, JHB and one in Newlands, CPT.

What is a Boutique Campus Manager?

A BCM is a dedicated SSOS staff member that manages the day-to-day operations of each Boutique Campus in addition to providing supervision for students on-site. The BCM also manages a team of staff that include learning coaches and maintenance staff.

What fees are associated with a Boutique Campus?

All BC applicants are required to pay a BC placement fee (to secure your spot) and thereafter a monthly BC surcharge. For more information on this please refer to the fees page.

What spaces are available at a Boutique Campus?

Each Boutique Campus has the following dedicated areas: Learning spaces where students complete their academics in silence, collaborative spaces where they can work or interact with their peers, multipurpose spaces where students can have a meal, or “chill” between lessons and recreational spaces where students can participate in a number of games and or activities such as table tennis etc.

How flexible is attendance at the Boutique Campuses?

Very. Attendance is determined by the guardian and student but we expect that a student attends at least three times a week so that they can receive the full value of being on the campus to engage, learn, and collaborate with other students and campus staff. However, should a student attend on a particular day, they are required to arrive on time and spend the full day on campus.

What are the hours of a Boutique Campus?

Very. Attendance is determined by the guardian and student but we expect that a student attends at least three times a week so that they can receive the full value of being on the campus to engage, learn, and collaborate with other students and campus staff. Should a student attend on a particular day, they are required to arrive on time and spend the full day on campus.

What does a day in the life of a Boutique Campus student look like?

The life of a student on campus starts with arrivals between 7:00 am and 8:00 am each morning. Mondays commence at 8:00 am with the weekly SSOS assembly with all the students and faculty. Students then organise their day/week using the Accountability Forms which assist them to be organised. The campus runs on various cadences throughout the day, which includes working on their academics and attending live sessions, to having breaks and working with their peers in the collaboration rooms. Students then break for lunch before resuming live sessions and then conclude the academic day around 3:00 pm. On a Friday, we have community sessions, where after classes, we organise a community activity within our campus and students usually organise these activities together with the campus staff.

How does a new student fit within the campus community?

We expect every new student who arrives on campus to be a bit nervous at first hence we ensure that their first day becomes an experience they do not forget. We start with welcoming the student and giving them an opportunity to introduce themselves as they will receive questions from campus staff and other students. We then take them on a tour to the different amenities of the campus and we also enable them to find their rhythm on the first day as they will also meet personally with the campus manager and learning coach designated to their successful social and academic experience on campus. The week of their arrival is dedicated to ensuring that they have a successful transition in the campus and are also given ample opportunity to meet different students at their own pace.

Are the Boutique Campuses complaint?

Yes, our BCs are fully compliant with all the necessary health and safety protocols. Our BC staff are also appointed as the various compliance officers required for each campus. In addition, all BC staff have basic First Aid Level 1 training qualifications.

Is the Boutique Campus COVID-19 compliant?

Yes, our BCs have the necessary COVID-19 protocols in place. All students, staff and visitors are required to complete the COVID-19 sign-in before accessing the campus each day. We strictly enforce a “no mask no entry rule” and the various spaces are assigned a specific maximum number of students that allows for social distancing. Sanitiser stations are stationed throughout the BC but students are also expected to bring their own sanitiser. When students are seated in the learning space, they are socially distant from each other.

Is there transport available to and from the Boutique Campus?

Yes, SSOS has partnered with Lulu Loop to offer our students safe door-to-door transport. This includes the latest in technology that allows guardians to make use of a customised app to track their child’s route and receive a notification when they have arrived at their destination. This is at an additional fee.

How do students access the Boutique Campus?

All students are supplied with a St Stithians Online Student Card which will allow access into the building via the access control system which also scans students' temperatures.

Are there extra-curricular activities available at a Boutique Campus?

Yes, we are always looking to include activities or clubs at the BCs based on student interest. However, due to the constant COVID-19 disruptions, these have been placed on hold for the foreseeable future.

Co-Curricular Activities

What are virtual clubs?

Virtual clubs are online activities or clubs that are facilitated by SSOS faculty. These take place after regular school sessions and may change each semester depending on student interest and participation. There are no additional fees charged for participation in virtual clubs.

Do students attend an assembly?

Weekly assemblies are scheduled every Monday morning and are interactive sessions organised by the Head of School, Faculty and Student Mentors.

Will St Stithians Online High School students have access to the St Stithians College campus?

Yes. Online students who live near St Stithians College campus in Johannesburg are welcome to enjoy various recreational programme activities on campus, provided that they have been registered and issued with a valid SSOS student card.

What recreational activities are available for students who wish to access the St Stithians College campus?

SSOS students and their families may access the college campus to enjoy a walk, ride on the mountain bike track, book a session on the tennis court or squash court or join the on-site high-performance gym. For more information please contact your student success mentor.

Will St Stithians Online High School students be able to attend St Stithians community activities on campus?

Yes, our online students are part of the greater St Stithians family and ecosystem. Students and their families are welcome and encouraged to be part of the St Stithians community by joining various events held virtually or on campus. Examples include: Founders Day, Sports Festivals, our Thandulwazi Academy’s fundraising initiatives to name but a few.

Can St Stithians Online High School students participate in school sports at St Stithians College?

No, only students who attend the Boys and Girls Colleges on campus may participate and represent St Stithians in various sports leagues. SSOS students are encouraged to participate in club sports offered at various clubs around the country. We promote a healthy body mindset and are currently working on a directory for sports, and activities which will aim to create communities of like-minded individuals outside of the online space.

Communication

How do guardians communicate with their child’s mentor and other key personnel at St Stithians Online High School?

Every guardian is given login details to the SSOS Guardian Community, where you can access your child’s grades, log requests, review work covered etc.

Does St Stithians Online High School have a weekly newsletter?

Yes, we do. Our Weekly Wrap Up is shared each Thursday with members of the SSOS community.

What are office hours?

Office hours are online meetings between either students and their teachers or mentors and also include Head of School online meetings with guardians.

Do students have office hours with their teachers?

Yes, all teachers make a number of office hour slots available in their calendars every week which students can book for one-on-one time with their teachers and tutors. Most office hours are optional and are made available as “walk-in” opportunities for students to ask for additional assistance outside of regular class time. Some office hours are compulsory where a teacher will book in time with a student to work on their development plan or because they have specific concerns that they would like to address with a student.

Does St Stithians Online High School have parent evenings?

Yes. Parent Information Evenings (otherwise known as PIEs) are scheduled throughout each semester. Agendas for each PIE are published well before the event, and parents are encouraged to attend to be part of the online high school community.

What are the standard office hours of St Stithians Online High School?

SSOS standard office hours are 8:00 am – 17:00 pm SAST, Monday to Friday. Our offices will be closed and live sessions will not take place on the following annual South African public holidays: 1 January, 21 March, 27 April, 1 May, 16 June, 9 August, 24 September, 16 December, 25 December, 26 December. SSOS students will always have access to their online campus and associated learning content irrespective of whether it is a public holiday or a weekend.

Examinations

Do St Stithians Online High School students write examinations?

Yes. All formative and summative assessments and preparatory examinations are taken online, although the examinations required to complete the qualification, as set by the examining/awarding body, are taken at a physical centre.

Is there a fee associated with these external international examinations?

Yes. All Pearson Edexcel examinations incur an examination sitting fee. These are based on Forex rates at the time and change year on year. The examination fee will be billed towards the end of each qualification and before examinations are written. For current fees associated with these examinations, refer to the fees page.

How does St Stithians Online High School assist students during the examination periods?

SSOS supports students in finding and registering for a physical centre where they can write their examinations.

Finance

What does the application fee include?

This is a non-refundable fee that covers the entire application process and the various placement assessments throughout the application process.

Is there an admission deposit?

Yes – applicants are only confirmed and admitted as students once the academic placement fee has been paid. This fee is non-refundable

When and how do I pay qualification (tuition) fees?

Please contact our finance department at finance@valentureinstitute.com to discuss detailed payment options.

Are sibling discounts offered?

Yes – when two or more siblings are concurrently studying at SSOS, the youngest sibling receives a 5% discount.

What is included/excluded from the qualification fees?

Please refer to the fees page for more detailed information.

Do current St Stithians College guardians need to pay fees in lieu of notice to move between the on-site college and the online high school?

No. Should your child choose to move from St Stithians College to St Stithians Online High School, no fees in lieu would be payable. A request must be made to your child’s current College Head of School who will, in turn, liaise with the Online Head of School.

General

Who is St Stithians College?

St Stithians College is a proudly South African school, embracing diversity and offering a distinctive educational experience. Founded in 1953 as a Methodist Church School, the college consists of primary and secondary boys’ and girls’ schools, together with a co-educational junior primary school. St Stithians College is an independent, non-profit institution located on an expansive green campus in Sandton, Johannesburg. In addition, St Stithians College incorporates the Kamoka Bush School near Modimolle and the Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy located on the campus. In 2021, St Stithians College launched their eighth school, St Stithians Online High School (SSOS) in collaboration with Valenture Institute.

Who is Valenture Institute?

Valenture Institute partners with the world’s leading educational institutions to evolve what it means to ‘go’ to school, by transforming physical limitations into digital possibilities. Our mission is to create new opportunities for students to choose an aspirational online learning experience by offering fully-supported online high school programmes.

Does St Stithians Online High School cater to the primary school grades?

No, not at the moment, only for high school students in grades 8-13.

What is the access for international students who are in different time zones?

Our primary operations are within South African Standard Time (SAST). If students choose to join SSOS from other time zones, they will need to rely mostly on recorded live sessions and will have limitations on access to teachers in live sessions and office hours.

Will online classes include both girls and boys?

Yes. All classes/learning compass sessions are coeducational.

Will St Stithians Online High School students be required to wear a uniform?

No. It won’t be necessary.

Will there be an online chapel service?

Yes. Chapel services will be recorded by our St Stithians College Chaplains and available online for students who wish to participate.

Will St Stithians Online High School students graduate as alumni of St Stithians College.

Yes, as one of the eight schools in the St Stithians College ecosystem, all SSOS students will become alumni.

Homeschooling

Why does my child need to register for homeschooling if they attend St Stithians Online High School?

Okay, let’s separate substance from legality. In substance, SSOS is very different to most ‘homeschools’. Your child will be joining a fully-fledged international online high school, with a community of friends, teachers and support mentors. Legally, in South Africa, online schools currently fall into the category of homeschooling. Homeschooling regulations only apply to the compulsory schooling phase (from Grade 1 - Grade 9). At this age, guardians are required to register their children as homeschoolers with their respective Provincial Education Department (PED). Please visit the Home Education page for more info or alternatively reach out to our admissions team if you need help: admissions@ssos.valentureonline.com

Since the regulations vary based on country and/or region, guardians must ensure they fully understand the requirements for homeschooling in their country.

Who needs to register?

Guardians with children under the age of 15 (grades 8 and 9) completing homeschooling in South Africa are required to apply to the Provincial Education Department for the registration of a home education student and comply with any reasonable conditions set by the department. For grades 10-12, guardians do not have to register their children with their Provincial Education Department.

How do I register my child?

In South Africa, you will register electronically to the head of your Provisional Education Department. You can register and find a list of required documents you need to submit with your registration here.

How long does an application to register my child as a homeschooler take?

It may take up to 30 days for your applications to be processed.

How much does this registration cost?

The service is free.

How can St Stithians Online High School support me in this process?

SSOS can provide the academic information you need to register, such as the weekly timetable and the academic calendar for the year. Please reach out to your child’s mentor or learning coach for this information.

Stationery & Tech

What equipment is needed to learn online?

Chromebooks, Notebooks, and most modern desktop computers with peripherals such as a webcam and earphones will do the job. Your main shopping list should include: a laptop, headphones, an additional separate webcam (if possible), uncapped wifi (we recommend a minimum 20Mbps line), TapScanner scanning app (or desktop scanner), printer, and for our South African students, we highly recommend purchasing an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) due to sporadic load shedding.

What stationery requirements are there?

Although we are an online high school, a vast number of our students still prefer to make use of notebooks and binders for note-taking including a variety of writing materials such as highlighters, pens etc. As this is a personal preference, we encourage our students to find what works best for them.

Where can I order my science kit from?

Students can order their science kits from the link provided on the student community portal. Each Science Kit has been pre-packed with the required inventory. Our partner will then arrange for delivery to your door (within South Africa only). Unfortunately due to restrictive and complex border customs and regulations, we cannot deliver beyond the borders of the RSA, our international students will need to source their own science kit based on the inventory that will be sent to you.

Where can I order my art kit from?

Students can order their art kits from the link provided on the student community portal. Each Art Kit has pre-packed each art kit with the required inventory. Our partner will also arrange for delivery to your door (within South Africa only). Unfortunately due to restrictive and complex border customs and regulations, we cannot deliver beyond the borders of the RSA, our international students will need to source their own art kit based on the inventory that will be sent to you.

Student Experience

What is a student success mentor?

A student success mentor is a student’s advocate and mentor. They are there to provide support and accountability to each of their students. This partnership is to ensure the success of all of our students at SSOS and is a point of contact for guardians

Does St Stithians Online High School have a school counsellor? And how does this work?

Yes. The school counsellor offers academic support, short-term counselling and oversees student accommodations. Initial contact appointments are booked via student mentors, with whom the school counsellor works closely. The school counsellor attends student progress meetings with faculty and mentors, to ensure that holistic support is provided for our students both academically and socio-emotionally. CAT4 feedback sessions and subject choice guidance may also be booked with the school counsellor.

How does St Stithians Online High School support students with barriers to learning.

For Junior High, internal accommodations are granted where the student meets accommodation criteria with supporting documentation. For Int. GCSE, Int. AS Levels and Int. A Levels, a formal application to Pearson Edexcel with specific historic documentation and observations is required. Please contact your child’s mentor to advise the school counsellor, should your child qualify for an accommodation, as the school counsellor is the Pearson Edexcel accommodations liaison and manages all internal accommodations. All accommodations require external, professional facilitators, at an additional fee, with whom our school counsellor works closely.

What is a Technical Support Officer (TSO)?

Our TSOs are here to support all of our students with any tech issues that they may encounter. Students can access a TSO through the chat box function on the online campus.

Tertiary Studies

Which universities recognise Pearson Edexcel qualifications?

Please refer to this comprehensive list of universities that recognise Pearson Edexcel.

If I am a South African student wanting to go to a South African University, will an international qualification be accepted?

Yes, it will be. A South African student wanting to study at a South African university will need to apply to Universities South Africa (USAf) to get a matric exemption certificate. This allows you to apply to the university of your choice. However, you will also need to research the university and specific degree you are interested in to see what subjects and marks you need.

What is matric exemption and how do I get this?

Matric exemption is a legal requirement that allows a student to apply to universities in South Africa. Students following an international curriculum must apply to Universities South Africa (USAf) for a matric exemption certificate. There are specific requirements that our students need to fulfil in order to apply, however, SSOS supports this.

If I am a South African student who knows that I will be applying to study at international universities, do I have to get a matric exemption?

We strongly recommend that all South African students aim towards meeting the minimum requirements for a matric exemption certificate even if they are sure they will be studying internationally. However, there is no requirement for a student who will be studying internationally to get a matric exemption certificate.

Can I join just for the International A Level Qualification as a South African student?

Yes, this is possible. However, a student will need to have completed either their South African senior certificate, AS Levels or equivalent to be considered. A South African student will need to have passed their senior certificate with endorsement to be considered.

I am an international student who wants to go to a South African university - what do I need to do to be able to apply to aSouth African University?  

You would need to follow the same process as a South African student and apply to Universities South Africa (USAf) for a matric exemption certificate.

If I am not from South Africa, what do I need todo to make sure I can apply and be accepted to the university of my choice?

This will depend on the university and degree programme you are interested in, as well as the specific country requirements. Families will need to carefully research the requirements needed. SSOS can support in this process, however, it is the responsibility of the student and family to ensure they have researched the various entry requirements.

Is St Stithians Online High School only for students wanting to go to university to study towards a degree?

No. Students who want to pursue vocational and technical qualifications after school are also encouraged to apply to SSOS.

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