How Ignitia Is Helping One School Make a Global Impact
When Switched-On Christian School opened with four students in 2012, it became the first independent Christian school using an online curriculum in the United Kingdom. Now, six years later, the school located on the outskirts of the city center of Bournemouth just a few miles from the English Channel is making an impact over 8,000 miles (13,000 km) away in the country of South Africa.
The story of Switched-On Christian School begins with Cheryl and Graham Hill back in 1987 in South Africa. Their passion for Christian education only grew, and in 2004, Cheryl was introduced to Switched-On Schoolhouse (SOS), a computer-based curriculum from Alpha Omega Publications on CD-ROM. At this time, the Hills had two kids of their own, and they tried to market SOS to a few private schools in South Africa. In 2008, however, they ended up leaving the continent of Africa to start a Christian school in Spain. That plan proved to be difficult.
“God had other plans for us, and in September of 2009, we landed in England at a Christian school where we both worked for 2 years,” Cheryl recalled. “It was during this time that we felt we needed to start our own school.”
Following God’s call, the Hills chose to register their new school with Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education.
“It took us a full year to meet all the requirements to fulfill the Ofsted standards, which here in England are very stringent,” Cheryl said. “Switched-On Christian School opened its doors in September 2012 with 4 students, my children, the secretary’s son, and one other student, and so the journey began.”
With the help of AOP curriculum, the school has grown since its launch and has had an enrollment as high as 35 students, including 7 students from South Korea. The school uses LIFEPAC for 2nd grade students and Ignitia curriculum, the online generation of SOS, for all students in and above 3rd grade.
“We have moved premises three times, which is not great for marketing and growth for a school, but the Lord has finally blessed us with an amazing facility for the school that allows us to grow to accommodate approximately 100 students,” Cheryl said.
At Switched-On Christian School, a learner-centered education is emphasized. Teachers serve as facilitators of learning and coaches of life skills, while the curriculum is designed around a child’s strengths and weaknesses rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach that often takes place in a traditional classroom.
“Our students enjoy working independently on an online curriculum,” Cheryl said. “Our staff and students enjoy that the thresholds can be tailor-made to suit the needs of each student. The students enjoy the instant response to work and that they don’t have to wait for work to be graded. They also enjoy the interactive aspects of the curriculum, and because it’s individualized, they can progress at their own pace through the work.”
As Switched-On Christian School looks to the future, they hope to continue to increase their school enrollment numbers while becoming known in the community as a leading school using technology. However, their focus also remains outward in service. So when they heard that private Christian schools in South Africa were facing a challenge with acceptance of their final exit qualifications, Cheryl and Graham Hill offered their school as a solution. In a way, that decision brought their three-decade journey in Christian education back full circle.
“Many schools have embraced the idea of changing curriculum and using Ignitia to gain the necessary exit qualification that they need in order to graduate and access higher education in South Africa,” Cheryl said. “Interested schools will be fully committed to using the curriculum by the start of the South African school year in January 2019. It is with great excitement that we start to walk this wonderful journey of discovering the joys of Ignitia curriculum.”
Are you interested in participating in a mission opportunity in South Africa? Switched-On Christian School is looking for graduate students and adults to participate in volunteer opportunities ranging from 1-3 year commitments. The program includes helping in a Christian school by supporting African students who are learning to read and assisting in other support opportunities. Volunteers also would be performing mission work in local rural communities. Free accommodation and food are provided. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.