SPARK Schools
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SPARK Schools Management reviews

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South Africa28 reviews
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2,0
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SPARK is great at marketing themselves to parents and teachers. There are lots of promises made with very little follow through. There is no accountability when things go wrong and blame always gets placed on someone else. It is very difficult to get straight answers and you always get the run around.
There is no time for a personal life and family time as you have extremely long working hours and when you are not at school you still have to put in many additional hours in the evening and weekends in order to meet expectations. They use disciplinary threats and policies to get you to abide by their way of doing things. The same rules do not apply to everyone and there are major inconsistencies when it comes to implementing rules.

The dress code is extremely strict and unreasonable especially when you are teaching for 8 hours a day. Comfort has no place in a SPARK classroom.

There are unrealistic expectations placed on teacher with little valuable support and resources. You are expected to use your own money to meet these expectations.

Professional development is offered as a selling point yet is often useless and the time could be used to do the mountains of admin that needs to be completed.

The emphasis at SPARK is academic achievement and data not learner centered. Your bonus and increase is based on learners results which often leads to dishonesty and mark adjustments.

I would not easily recommend SPARK as an organization to work for and I would never send my child there as the academic pressure is too high for them and does not develop a child holistically.
Pros
A great line manager, nice people that became friends
Cons
Salary, long working hours, unrealistic expectations
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1,0
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Did not have a pleasant experience at Spark. Management do not have open communication with staff. Staff are ALWAYS in the dark. Environement is terrible - and have noticed some Spark schools are container classrooms - looks horrible and not appealing whatsoever. Fees are affordable, but to what end? Spark is fake - but are really good at advertising and hides under a masked education system that does not work. Discipline at schools is attention getting signals - they do not work, and I feel makes the children seem like robots. I do not think this is the way to inspire young children. As a proud South African, I would like to embrace the essence of what makes me a South African - Spark is very neutral and takes on a neutral, somewhat American way of teaching. Teaching hours for children are very long and 7 year olds can't concentrate till 3pm. There is only PE and if kids want to play sport, they have to join a sports club - which is an additional fee to school fees...so is Spark really affordable? The curriculum is faltered - if Spark really wants to impress parents and future teachers, they should have properly qualified curriculum coordinators to create a curriculum worth using, and doesn't change every so often. As a parent myself, I wouldn't enroll my child at Spark because it seems to me that Spark is run more like a business rather than a place of learning.
Pros
None
Cons
Lengthy learning & teaching hours
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3,0
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SPARK's curriculum ensures scholars receive quality education. Implementing (way of teaching) the curriculum and expanding on scholars' knowledge is great. SPARK also uses Dovetail learinging program to improve behavior with scholars via self-management. SPARK Teachers learn how to manage behavior using positive narration. Scholars are not humiliated nor scoweld at.

SPARK has a head office where all curriculum, HR, and business decisions are made. This however, makes decision making at school-level challenging. The ability to accept and let go is very important to be able to work at SPARK.


SPARK Teachers and school-level leadership are mostly worn out, tired and behind with work.
Pros
High quality education at affordable price, Personal growth for both scholars and employees, Regular In-house training for employees
Cons
Scholars' academic school day is too long, Too many scholars per class, SPARK does not partake in sports, Teachers have little to no voice, Zero balance between workload and available time
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2,0
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When I first started I was blown away by the professional development that teachers receive as well as the support from management. I didn't have anything like that at my last school so I was impressed.

As time has gone on, and I'm in my third year now, I am still doing the exact same professional development sessions as I did when I started out, so it's a bit boring to say the least and time I could be using to do prep for my lessons.


Since starting I have no time for my personal life, We work very hard until 16:00 every day with no real prep/admin time during the school day. Our break in Flex (Grade 4-7) is 25 minutes long so I have to breath food down before my group comes back from break. It's not fair the kids either as this is their only break for the whole day.


Lessons are very short in Flex (40 minutes) with a lot of content that needs to be covered in a short period of time as well as making sure your struggling learners are being tended to as well. I need to do extra lessons after school just so that we can keep up with the work and so that I can make sure my kids actually understand it.The scripted lesson are a bonus, we don't have to spend time we don't have doing them but it leaves little room for creativity as a teacher. People from SPARK support will come into your class randomly, they don't greet you, they check books and leave and complain about them later because you haven't stuck exactly to the lesson plan or you forgot to put that 1 poster on the wall.


Classrooms are expected to look a certain way with certain things that HAVE to be up on the
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5,0
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Gained a lot of working experience. Management is very involved in making sure that you are suitable for the position that you are placed in and that you are doing what makes you happy.
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3,0
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Thrown into the deep end when starting the job at SPARK Schools. Management not friendly. Some management not qualified for their positions.

Friendly teachers and facility management.
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1,0
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There is a big expectation for excellence, however, the means to achieve this are often not provided. The assessment standards are all over the place and do not correlate with what is being taught in the scripted out lesson plans. For example - the assessments are set by a 'Learning Model' team, the Assistant Principals of each school are expected to 'moderate', however, when teachers receive assessments it is laden with numerous mistakes and content that was covered in example term 2 is being tested in term 3 - why cover all the content for term 3 if it is not being tested then? On top of that, the deadlines to conclude with marking are unrealistic. There is a big emphasis on writing (especially in English) and no focus whatsoever on grammar. Reading is to be taught in small groups - however, the timetable does not allow for the teacher to see each group to teach reading and often times scholars are left without being taught any reading skills.

SPARK Support - which acts kind of like the network's head office rarely provides support.
The management is still juvenile and I am sure there will be a difference in 10 - 15 years. A lot of systems are not yet in place, and small irregularities make for a very unpleasant working environment Leadership (which are all young, inexperience, millennial leaders) clearly displays favouritism, and often times they have a very childish approach to handling things and even conducting meetings. There is little to no empathy shown for one's personal life and support is very little.
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5,0
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I'm loving this company. One feels at home and always fun and I love the interaction by management to staff. I would not work anywhsre else this is the best. Company I've worked for
Pros
Popcorn on friday
Cons
None so far
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1,0
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Fast growing organization with young inexperienced management and immature, ineffective systems. Policies are not consistently adhered to leading to the perception that management shows favouritism. Emphasis on affordability means constant budget issues that leads to immense frustrations - especially regarding teaching supplies, safety, security and maintenance. Employees are expected to work hard with little reward and and even less support.
Pros
Core values and Social emotional learning
Cons
Long hours, frustration due to lack of support, low salary
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4,0
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Working at Spark is generally positive and you'll find the positive attitudes infectious. The schools strive to implement a unique blend of flipped classroom models, learning modalities and professional development.
The culture and focus on emotional growth is superb, however the schools are structured more to serve learners than teachers.

Striking that balance is something they should work on for the future to address the quick turnover rates of teachers who cannot cope with the adjustment.
Pros
Excellent opportunities for growth and learning, high energy and nurturing environment, clear and involved management teams
Cons
Hours longer than usual for primary schools, work/life balance may be difficult to attain, lots of change to adapt to very quickly
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Mondays teachers work till 4pm and are given a 20 minute lunch break. During their lunch break, they have to drop their learners on the playground and then fetch them, so the 20 minute break is then only 10 minutes. No free time whatsoever for the teacher on Monday. The expectations get higher by management but salaries remain the same. Favoritism is high and the staff are disunited and do not collaborate as they have groups and each group or individual as their own agendas.The learners best interest is not really taken into consideration. The staff shows apathy and discourage others from working hard. The motto from the Principal is do not work hard but work smart.
Pros
Fridays leave at 3pm.
Cons
Long hours. Ridiculous expectations. Unprofessional and under qualified staff.
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