Mary Harding School

Brief description and main aims
The aims of Mary Harding School is to develop the potential of young people, to help young people feel a sense of belonging, of personal worth and purpose. Mary Harding School had its origins in the amalgamat ion of three institutions, namely:

  • Garden Home: A Girls Hostel
  • Torrance Home: A Boys Hostel
  • Goodwill Therapy

Garden Home w as established in 1952 whilst Torrance Home w as established in 1956. Mary Harding School was taken over formally by the Western Cape Education Department in 1980. The history of the current school therefore dates from 1980. The school celebrated its 30th year of existence during 2010. The school has many proud traditions and an excellent history of education to learners with intellectual impairment.

Mary Harding School provides specialized education for 305 learners who come from all over the Western Cape. The school has 24 teaching staff and 45 support staff, comprising of bus drivers, class assistants and hostel staff. Learners are referred to the school by the Western Cape Education Department, Hospitals and private healthcare practitioners. The learners at Mary Harding School present with severe to moderate intellectual impairment. As a result of their intellectual needs, learners require intense human resource intervention with staff being quite diversified in terms of specialist training. Often learners present with co-morbid (additional) conditions such as epilepsy, hyperactivity, autistic traits and other psychological conditions. Learners who require intense support that the school cannot provide, such as behaviour management, etc. are sent to other social and medical agencies for intervention.

Main Activities
Some of the activities that learners are exposed to are:

  • Reading books and story telling.
  • Designing and creating.
  • Dressing up.
  • Climbing.
  • Dancing.
  • Doing puzzles.
  • Making collages.
  • Listening to and playing music.
  • Painting and drawing.
  • Playing with clay and play dough, blocks, sand and water.

Through these learning experiences the learners will develop skills, understanding values in Mathematics, Science, Technology, Literacy, Health, Physical Education, Safety, Society, the Environment and Life Skills. Due to being understaffed, volunteers assist with sport coaching, excursions, horse-riding, individual tutoring, etc. Learners are able to be exposed to more opportunities.

Volunteer tasks
Assist the educator in the classroom-supervise/assist learners in their classroom tasks. Take learners to soccer coaching and horse-riding, help with veg garden. Initiate and Assist with fundraising project.
Volunteer requirements / Skills
  • Volunteers must be kind, tolerant, sincere, honest and trustworthy, must love to work with children, and have a great deal of patience.
  • Must be young and energetic and enjoy sport.
  • Preferably male.
  • Must be able to relate to the learners.
  • Able to market our school.
Athlone is a suburb of Cape Town located to the east of the city centre on the Cape Flats to the south of the N2 highway. The Suburb of Athlone lies approximately 9 km West of Cape Town International Airport.
Hosting Situation (Board & Lodging)
Host family accommodation, and possible hostel accommodation.