Tutor of the Month: June 2019

Great tutors

Langutelani S. is our June 2019 Tutor of the Month!

Langutelani has been a BrightSparkz tutor since June 2018, and has tutored school and adult level learners, assisted with concessions and is one of our Zulu Boot Camp tutors!

Langutelani is a brilliant tutor who is always looking for ways to add to the academic growth of anyone she can help. She is there for clients in a variety of ways, including assisting as a concessions facilitator, operating as one of our most trusted Zulu Boot Camp facilitators, and doing incredible work as a multilingual school subject tutor, for which she has local as well as international experience. Langutelani is also a student teacher at the African Union International School where she teaches Zulu, English and French basics to beginners. She holds a National Diploma in Metallurgical Engineering from the Tswane University of Technology and is currently in her first year of study towards a Postgraduate Teaching Certificate through the University of South Africa. She always puts special effort into relating to her students’ needs, motivating and encouraging them along the way. During her spare time, Langutelani enjoys playing sports such as hockey as well as attending soccer matches for fun! She also enjoys playing board games, writing shorts stories, hiking and sightseeing.

Thanks for being such a valuable member of the BrightSparkz Joburg team!

BrightSparkz & University of Johannesburg train up Readers & Scribes!

As I write this, thousands of students at universities across South Africa start writing their mid-year examinations, undoubtedly with much anticipation and anxiety! And how much more for a student with a disability or who experiences a barrier to learning.

Exam concessions and accommodations in schools and universities

Examinations as an assessment method are still typically the standard form of assessment at all major universities and colleges, both public and private. Although the principles of Inclusive Education (introduced in the White Paper 6 on Education, 2001) have slowly made their way into our basic and tertiary education system, it is reported that up to two thirds of students with disabilities express that they have difficulties with standard assessment methods.

The Department of Basic Education’s Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support Policy supports early identification of learning barriers and encourages learners to apply for a concession before they get to Grade 10. A concession (also known as an accommodation) may be granted for a reader, scribe, prompter, or personal assistant, as well as things like additional time, spelling and handwriting.

This movement in schools towards supporting inclusive education through assessment differentiation, has an implication on universities and raises the question: How are universities accommodating the growing number of students who have been granted a concession for tests and examinations?


The University of Johannesburg supports students with exam concessions

The Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development at the University of Johannesburg (known to many of us as UJ), headed up by Educational Psychologist Leila Abdool-Gafoor, has a professional team designated to supporting students with assessment concessions. According to Dr Abdool-Gafoor, concessions aim to level the playing field for those with and without disabilities. “My vision is to support our students at the University of Johannesburg, such that their disabilities do not hinder or act as a barrier to them achieving their goals.”

Exam concessions training at University of Johannesburg with BrightSparkz Tutors

BrightSparkz recently conducted formal concessions training with 15 carefully selected staff and students at UJ’s Auckland Park Campus. The training upskills staff and students to effectively fulfill the duties of a reader and scribe; to maintain exam integrity throughout the process; and create a consistent experience for the student. It was encouraging to interact with such a committed team, and see a major South African university willing to invest in the development of its staff – the students with barrier to learning studying at UJ are in good hands!


The BrightSparkz’ Exam Concessions Team

Since 2017, BrightSparkz’ concessions team have supported students and learners with over 2200 examinations and have trained over 160 individuals to act as readers, scribes, prompters and personal assistants. 18 Schools and 10 University campuses across Gauteng and the Western Cape currently rely on the BrightSparkz team to fulfill these roles and support their in-house team of support professionals. If you’d like to get more information or contact us about your needs in the area of concessions, please get in touch with our Concessions Team at BrightSparkz: tutors@brightsparkz.co.za or find out more about our Concessions Facilitators


Written by: Dominique Oebell, BrightSparkz Tutors

Setting SMART Goals

Somehow, the end of the semester has snuck up on you, and amidst all the things that are on your to-do list, up pops the dreaded exam timetable. It’s a stressful time for your kids, and it’s a stressful time for you. On top of everything else that’s going on, you have to find time to help your kids study for their exams. But isn’t there a better way?

Setting goals is a simple way to help your kids start off the right way. Instead of leaving everything to the last minute, running out of time to do things properly, or panicking at the load of work that has to be done, why not start studying from the beginning of the school term?

Well, this seems like a great idea, but what’s a practical way to prevent procrastination and begin the year on the right foot? The answer is setting effective goals, and a great way to do this is using the SMART method of goal setting.

What are SMART goals?

So, what are SMART goals, anyway? George Doran created the idea in an article he wrote about setting management goals and objectives. However, the technique is so effective that it is used in a variety of contexts by loads of diverse people for different reasons. Here is a guideline you can use to help your child set effective SMART goals.

Let’s start with “S” for SPECIFIC

This means they should write a detailed and thorough goal. If the goal is too general or unclear, they will struggle to achieve it. Instead of saying “I want to do well in my subjects”, rather say “I want to improve my marks by 10% this term”.

The next letter is “M” for MEASURABLE

The goal needs to be measurable, otherwise how will they know if they are succeeding? Form benchmarks to establish whether they are reaching their goalpost. For example, if they want to better at mathematics, they can start off by practicing a certain number of equations each day. Then, complete practice quizzes, tests, and examinations. They will see an improvement in their scores as they practice consistently, learn from their mistakes, and get better with every practice assessment.

Third, we have “A” for ATTAINABLE

An attainable goal is something that is possible for them to achieve. If they are failing a subject, it is unrealistic to set the goal of getting a distinction, and they will just get discouraged when they can’t accomplish an unrealistic goal. Rather, set the goal of improving by percent.

The “R” stands for RELEVANT

Ask why they want to achieve this goal? Is their goal relevant to their life? Does it fit in with their short-term and long-term goals? Do they have the resources to complete this goal? If they consider the rewards of achieving their goal, it will help motivate them and help them stay committed even when things get challenging.

Finally, let’s look at “T” for TIMELY

Does their goal have a deadline? They need to have a starting point and an ending point for their goal, otherwise they will struggle to find the motivation to work toward it. Creating a routine will help them realise their goals because they will work towards them little by little every day, instead of rushing around at the last minute. Be flexible, but don’t let things fall between the cracks. Like the tortoise taught us, slow and steady wins the race!

Do the work!

Understanding these steps and working with your child to put them into practice will help you and them make the most of the time available. But it’s not enough just to have SMART goals, they still have to build an action plan and do the work! So now that they’ve set their SMART goals they are ready to improve their marks and allow their schedule to help them succeed.

Writing effective SMART goals

Don’t say: I want to do well in English

Rather say: 

This term, I will improve my essay writing by 10% by

  • planning my essay,
  • completing a draft one week before the deadline,
  • asking my friends and teacher to review my draft,
  • and revising my essay at least three times before handing it in.

Download your SMART goals template hereUse this template to start working on your own SMART goals!


Written by Vicki Snyman, BrightSparkz Tutor and Guest Blogger

Tutor of the Month: May 2019

Dimitri G is our May 2019 Tutor of the Month!

Dimitri has been a BrightSparkz tutor since December 2017, and he has done an INCREDIBLE 375 hours of tutoring for us!

Dimitri matriculated from Fairmont High School in 2013 with 7 distinctions. He has completed his BCom majoring in Business Management, and is currently doing his Honours in BCom Business Management majoring in Financial Management, through UNISA. He was the Deputy Chairperson of his college’s SRC in 2016, and headed up a project assisting children with learning difficulties such as Down’s Syndrome and Autism with a school market day. He has completed his Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate, and plans to teach English in Asia in his future. Dimitri joined BrightSparkz in November 2017 and has accumulated over 370 tutoring hours. Dimitri receives raving reviews from all of his clients who are delighted to have him as a tutor.

Dimitri, thank you for all the time and effort you invest into tutoring; you are an incredible tutor and we are privileged to have you as part our BrightSparkz Team.