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Towards Employability: Life Skills and Vocational Education for Learners with Intellectual Challenges.

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Towards Employability: Life Skills and Vocational Education for Learners with Intellectual Challenges.

“My child has special intellectual needs. What is the way forward regarding schooling and possible employment?” This is the heart-felt cry of any parent who has had to come to terms with their child’s intellectual disability. They have hopes and expectations for their child’s physical, social and emotional independence as far as possible, as well as for future employability, which offers the promise of dignity, whether it is remunerated or voluntary.

The mission of Unity College is “to realise the full potential of children and young adults with special educational needs through the provision of high quality education in order to equip each learner with skills to become productive, independent members of society.” Unity College specialises in the provision of life skills and vocational education for learners with intellectual challenges ranging from developmental delay to specific learning disabilities.

Unity College is an ISASA affiliated school with 28 years experience in special needs education. It is Department of Education and Umalusi compliant, and is regularly evaluated by the Independent Quality Assurance Agency (IQAA). Over the years Unity College has offered life skills and vocational courses developed and assessed by experienced educators and accredited assessors. The courses, geared to the needs of South Africans, were benchmarked according to the European Qualification and Credit Framework. From 2019 Unity College will align itself with the Differentiated CAPS Curriculum for Gr. R to Gr. 5.

Unity College has a unique place in South Africa’s educational landscape.
• Caters for learners aged 3 - 19+ years
Small classes for individual attention, never exceeding the LSEN ppn
Individual Development Plans developed by all stakeholders. Realistic medium term academic and behavioural goals are set by a team consisting of the child, parents / caregivers, educators, therapists and informed by the insights of work experience providers
Life skills embedded in all courses. Personal skills include personal care, personal safety, money management, cookery and transportation; personal social skills include differentiation in communication, relationship building, citizenship, managing peer pressure, substance use / abuse, self regulation and self-advocacy; ICT skills and awareness in the use of the internet, social media and cell phone; work skills
Integrated therapy (Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, Registered Counselling and Counselling Psychology)
Differentiated CAPS curriculum as a benchmark of minimum achievement, and PIVATS (Performance Indicators for Value Added Target Setting)

Two Streams : Vocational and Life Orientation
Vocational Stream (from 14 yrs), courses chosen for applicability to the interests and capabilities of learners, and with a view to their employability
• Consumer Studies
• Ancillary Health Care
• Office Administration
Life Orientation Stream for learners who need emotional and therapeutic support in the attainment of Activities of Daily Living (ADL) skills

Work experience
in the workplace as opposed to simulated work experience (from 16 yrs to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act)
• Graduated exposure and mentoring, from half-day to two days or more as needed to develop good work ethics and habits as well as to build stamina and endurance for the workplace.
• Work in sheltered or open labour market placements in cycles of six months to one year, in a variety of realistic entry level jobs to develop work related skills as well as the soft skills for getting on well with others in the workplace.
• Transition to the workplace with mentoring of learners, and facilitation of realistic parent and employer expectations

Entrepreneurship opportunities e.g. Market Day
Accreditation through various institutions providing access to some FET training facilities as some learners have potential to go onto these
• IEB Adult Education and Training (AET). 
Literacy and Numeracy / Mathematics up to Level 4 (NQF1)
Knowledge Network.
Computer course offered on different levels (Junior Primary, Senior Primary and High
Professional Child Care College.
Educare course as a gateway to more advanced childcare courses
Excursions that are curriculum-based
Extramural activities: cultural activities, sports, ice skating, participation in Special Olympics, etc.

Unity College comprises the following departments:
Early Intervention Centre (3 – 7 yrs)
Junior Phase (6 - 11 yrs)
Intermediate Phase (12 – 16 yrs)
Senior Phase (16 yrs and over)
Potentials VTC (Vocational Training Centre) (19 yrs and over) which provides vocational training in hospitality for learners who don't qualify for entry into TVET colleges.

The good news is that individuals with intellectual challenges can be integrated into the community and the workplace with reasonable accommodations, continuous practice and reinforcement of life skills, clear behavioural and work expectations with feedback, mentoring and support. They can become the best that they can be!

Contact us for further info or to arrange a tour of our school
Unity College, 60 Runnymead Ave, Chartwell North Estates
010 109 0790
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Anita Wylie: HOD Senior Phase Unity College

Anita is a qualified teacher and librarian. Before raising a family she worked in scientific libraries. When her sons started school she became a school librarian and taught neuro-typical learners for a number of years. Circumstances led to an opportunity in special needs education which she has found to be both stimulating and fulfilling. She is HOD Senior Phase at Unity College, a school for learners with intellectual challenges. In the Senior Phase learners aged 16 and over are taught life and work-skills towards independence and employability.



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