Dorothea Special School recognised as an Apple Distinguished School | Western Cape Education Department
Dorothea Special School recognised as an Apple Distinguished School

Dorothea Special School recognised as an Apple Distinguished School

13 December 2023

Dorothea Special School, a school that caters for learners with Severe Intellectual Disability, Profound Intellectual Disability and learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder, was awarded with the highly sought after and prestigious Apple Distinguished School (ADS) Certificate on 16 November 2023.

What sets this school apart is that they are the very first recognised special needs ADS school in the world!

In 2019, a parent, Mrs van Zyl, contacted Anthea Williams, the principal of Dorothea Special School. The collaboration between parent and principal resulted in an opportunity to have iPads donated by Mix-telematics in partnership with iSchoolAfrica Education Trust. The principal’s immediate responsiveness allowed Dorothea Special School to receive their first batch of iPads and upon each reflection, report and relay of their vision to the sponsors, the school was able to reach a new goal and add to their collection of Apple armor.

As a member of the Apple team, Williams gave arduous guidance and support on their ICT journey. This resulted in Dorothea Special School receiving a donation of more than 200 iPads, 11 Apple TV’s, Apple pencils, monitors and more by the end of 2022. The teachers continuously reflected and reported on their development skills every term, and finally, they achieved a goal that has been talked about since 2020. “We assured the sponsors and ourselves that we will achieve our goal of having 100% Apple teachers.  With each training session, teachers worked hard to advance their ICT- Apple skill set by using the various setting and other applications throughout COVID-19. With continuous training and success in sight, a new world awakened and a dream soon appeared. It is only by the end that we realised that we had made it! We have been recognised as an ADS school 2023-2026. One of only +-750 in the entire world,” Williams said.

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Many high profile iStore personnel attended the Apple show and tell celebrations, hosted in the school hall.  Bill Ziegler, the international Programme Manager for ADS schools, joined the celebrations remotely. He praised the school for its innovation and for proving that the programme has endless possibilities. “The visitors were able to see how the learners and teachers used iPads functionally and imaginatively in the classroom. They were amazed to see how these learners with a multitude of barriers, including intellectual, sensory, physical and behaviour; could operate the device and how teachers used accessibility tools such as guided access to enforce class rules at a practical level, because we believe that every child can learn,” Williams added.

The school reported improved learner attendance, as well as a boost in learner confidence, collaboration and communication. An opportunity was created for young ICT or Apple iPad champions in the classroom, with learners assisting one another. Learners can use the accessibility features to enlarge texts, increase or decrease speech rate and volume, have instructions repeated and more.

As a Special School Resource Centre, the school’s vision for 2026 and beyond is to ensure that the iPad as a tool is made more accessible to other mainstream schools in the area, do more in-service training amongst staff and develop an e-book, or at least steps to ensure a simplified manner of developing one.

“Dorothea School is looking forward to enhancing learners’ potential in every possible way with Apple technology. We stand by our saying that in the face of uncertainty, there is always hope, and it seems that selling hope and buying the dream this time, has once again worked out for all at Dorothea Special School,” Williams concluded.

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