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Schools in the Western Cape reaching out to parents

Dedicated and competent teachers and enthusiastic, determined parents make for vibrant and engaging Home-School Partnerships Programme workshops!

We have compiled an picture album of Teacher-facilitators and parents exploring ways to support their children’s informal learning at home through interactive story-telling, warm-up activities, sharing stories, homework and ideas, writing, making little books, games, and more.

Over 120 new HSP Teacher-facilitators attended training over three Saturdays earlier this year, joining 184 established Teacher-facilitators working with parents in the Metro and on the West Coast.

See our album on our Facebook page, and look out for more albums as the workshops progress.

Parents will attend a total of eight two-hour sessions culminating in a certification event organised by the Teacher-facilitators.

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Nine NGOs complete Every Word Counts training sessions

17 participants from eight NGOs working in the Western Cape have completed a series of nine monthly Every Word Counts (EWC) training sessions. They are from Capespan, Foundation for Community Work, GCU, Philani, Sikhula Sonke, Unogwaja Charitable Fund, Valley Development Projects, and Yumna First Steps.

These NGOs are sharing EWC with home visitors, in parent groups, with ECD practitioners, and using the ideas and activities with children. Our last training day was filled with highlights – experiencing the close connections we have developed as a group over the past year, sharing our learning with each other and invited guests, and receiving lots of lovely resources to encourage young children to have fun learning maths concepts.

Here Lusanda Stemele and Mercedes Artigue-Beatty from Unogwaja Charitable Fund in Langa share their highlights of the training.

These partners will continue to be connected to us as members of our WordNetworks and receive support from the team as they share EWC with new groups of parents, home visitors and ECD practitioners.

Read more about EWC – supporting the learning of babies and young children – on our website.

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Wordworks Home-School Partnerships on the Cape West Coast

Wordworks was busy way beyond the Cape Town Metro last weekend, training and supporting HSPP facilitators in Vredendal. Schools from Lutzville, Nuwerus, Koekenaap, Nieuwoudtville, Vredendal and as far as Moreesburg were represented.

We are encouraged by the fact that seven of the nine schools that attended training last year have committed to continue working with parents in 2018, and three new schools have come on board.

We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with West Coast Education District in this exciting initiative.

The Wordworks trainers will return for Parts 2 and 3 of the Facilitator training in March and April respectively. All the schools involved will receive our high quality resources for their parents.

Special thanks to the dedicated teachers who travelled long distances to do the training!

Pictured here are some of the 2018 trainees, including two school principals, a social worker and three retired teachers.


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Every Word Counts (EWC) Information Session

Wordworks is running another Every Word Counts (EWC) Programme training this year in Cape Town for organisations that work with families or ECD centres. We will focus on how to support early learning and the language development of babies and young children. The training takes place monthly from 27 March to 30 October.

Interested organisations are invited to attend an EWC information session on 20 February from 10am to 1pm at Novalis Ubuntu Institute, Rosmead Avenue, Wynberg

RSVP: or call 021-7889233 for more information.

Read more about this programme here

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The Home-School Partnerships (HSP) Programme is off to a strong start this year!

We have experienced high levels of energy and optimism amongst the wonderful teachers returning to another year of early literacy and language support to the families of their school community. We had four fruitful planning sessions with over 200 established teacher-facilitators in January, and look forward to our training sessions with new teacher-facilitators over the next month.

The HSP team also welcomes two new Mentors, Gaynor Cozens who retired from Merrydale Primary School, and Faheema Hassiem who is a retired Learning Support teacher from Norwood and Valhalla Primary schools. Both of them ran the HSPP at their respective schools.

In addition, Lavinia Davis has joined the HSPP team for this term and Lorna Solomons is assisting in the training of new HSPP facilitators. We have greatly valued their participation at our sessions for old and new Teacher-facilitators, and look forward to a great year together.

See more pictures on our Facebook page.

Read more about the HSP Programme here.

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Volunteer tutors – ‘Ordinary people with extraordinary hearts’

Volunteer tutors celebrated for their support of young children learning to read and write

 60 Co-ordinators of Wordworks’ Ready Steady Read Write (RSRW) programme gathered this week to celebrate another successful year of running this early literacy programme at schools and organisations.

 These community volunteers, trained by Wordworks managed over 300 volunteer tutors at more than 50 RSRW sites across the Cape Metro and in the West Coast. This annual event is to thank these literacy champions, who give freely of their time, for their unwavering commitment to the programme. 

At this heart-warming event, motivational speaker, Heidi Volkwyn and singer, Phillip Cornelius, reminded the tutors that they are true heroes to the learners whose lives they are changing for the better, thanks to their loving and focused attention.

Coordinators Diane Links, Mareldia Bressick and Guswill Cleophas shared their uplifting experiences of the sometimes challenging, but immensely rewarding journey of running the programme at their sites this year.

See our Facebook page for an album of pictures taken at this event.

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Extending the reach of the Home-School Partnerships (HSPP) Programme.

HSPP trainers from Wordworks made a special trip to Bonnievale to facilitate the first HSPP Training of Trainers on 27 November.

We are delighted to be working with Capespan and Langeberg Trainers as our lead partners in this new venture.

This will enable our partners to train new facilitators and extend the reach of the HSPP.

We are excited that so many more parents will gain valuable insight into how to support their children’s early learning at home.


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A heartwarming celebration for ECD practitioners in Worcester

In November, Brigid Comrie and Faith Shabangu from Wordworks attended a graduation event for Early Childhood Development practitioners and Foundation for Community Work (FCW) home visitors who attended monthly #EveryWordCounts workshops in Worcester in 2017.

The programme was delivered by FCW over 10 months, and was funded by RCL Foods.

Participants each received a pack of animal memory cards donated by Barrows, and 12 practitioners and home visitors received prizes for using the CareUp parenting App regularly over the past 4 months.

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Teachers awarded for working with parents to help build language and literacy at home

In November, 115 teachers from 34 schools received certificates from Wordworks for conducting a series of workshops with parents and caregivers of young children that attend their schools.  The workshops aim to build closer ties between homes and schools, and give parents ideas and resources for supporting informal learning in their homes.

 These teachers have joined the growing network of teachers facilitating the Home-School Partnerships (HSP) Programme.   After volunteering to participate in the programme, the teachers were trained and supported by Wordworks to take parents through an early literacy course, conducted on weekends and after school hours. These workshops give parents practical ways of supporting their young children’s learning at home.  Over 1000 parents from 69 schools/organisations successfully completed the 8-week course this year.

 Of the 115 teachers who received Wordworks certificates, 36 also registered for the HSP Programme through the University of Cape Town and received a UCT short course certificate.  These teachers are looking beyond their classrooms, to involve and celebrate the role of parents as partners in educating young children. 

 At the happy and inspiring certification event, Sharon Lewin, a Deputy Chief Education Specialist for People Management in the Metro South Education District, commended these teachers for their dedication and hard work.  ‘You might think you are only making a small difference, but in fact you are nation builders,’ Lewin said.  She said that the WCED’s mandate is to ensure quality education for every child in every school, in every classroom, and through the Home-School Partnership Programme, teachers were providing support for quality learning in every home.  Wordworks director, Shelley O’Carroll, proposed that providing opportunities for parents to learn how to support their children at home is key to improving our literacy results and ensuring more children reach their potential.  

 A teacher who facilitated the course says, ‘When we engage with parents, we become one of them. It’s my community, I am part of the group.  We are giving back. My husband tells me I am lit up. It works for me, it works for the community, it works for the child.  It’s not work – it’s something that we want to do.’

  A parent who completed the course says, ‘The … classes were exciting– the reading, conversations, the how, what and why… My daughter talks so much more now. She shows much more interest in reading. Also the class gave me more confidence, more patience.’

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A week in the life of Wordworks

The last week in October was an energising, enriching and fulfilling week with partners who are engaging with our programmes.

Home-School Partnerships (HSP) parent graduation at Hillwood Primary School: 

Stellar training in isiXhosa with the Primary Science Programme (PSP) for new Grade R Teachers:


Ready Steady Read Write Cluster meeting with tutors from partner organisations and schools on the West Coast:

Every Word Counts workshop with 16 participants from 8 NGOs in Cape Town:

Ready Steady Read Write workshop with Intshayelelo Primary School parents that have done the HSP course:


CareUp App follow-up workshop for over 100 parents in Paarl:

CareUp mobile parenting App workshop in Wellington with 60 parents:

We salute all  these early literacy champions who work with their families at home, and with young children in schools and in organisations. Together we are changing lives through literacy!