Spurgeons Academy – an insight into some of their challenges

The following is a section of an email that was recently sent out to some key supporters of the work at Spurgeons Academy. It gives an insight into some of the issues that staff and students are grappling with as they approach the end of term.

Spurgeons-specific issues

  • The grade 6 students at Spurgeons who are about to take national exams, and also all the uncertainty surrounding their education next year and which school they might be attending (see below for context).
  • The grade 8 students as they prepare for their national school leaver exams and then transition to secondary school. Their place at secondary school will be dependent on their performance in the exams, so these exams are really important.
P8 class
  • There are some slightly delayed ‘Spurgeons at 20’ celebrations coming up at the school, so we hope that these celebrations go well for all.
  • Provision of resources at the school in the light of the drought situation. The cost of food items has gone up significantly and as a result it is becoming ever harder to ensure that the feeding programme is able to keep going. Families in the community are also struggling due to the increased cost of food items, and thus expectations on the school to provide the children with some food is also growing.
  • Concerns for the economic situation for the school and for the families of the school.
  • Mondays – the children often struggle to concentrate on a Monday as they have not eaten all weekend. Many of the children survive on water and black tea over the weekend and so come to school very tired and hungry on a Monday.
  • Feeling grateful that the boundary wall issue that occurred recently relating to land ownership by Kenyan Railway Authority has been resolved so well. The outcome is a strong and secure boundary wall for the school – something that they have never had before.
  • Relief that, despite the past two years having been so very gruelling due to post-covid accelerated catch-up, the staff have reached the end of the year without any burnout.
The teaching staff at Spurgeons, less one who was away

National-related issues

  • Concerns for the drought situation here in Kenya.
    • Context: 34 of the 47 counties in Kenya have been declared ‘drought stricken’ and some of those counties are the ones that produce most of the food for the country, so the impact on food supplies could be massive.
  • Major concerns and confusion regarding the looming problems regarding transition of all grade 6 primary children across to Junior secondary class 1 next Feb.
    • A bit of background to this: six academic years ago, the government introduced a new curriculum, and the current grade 6 children were the pilot year. One of the key aspects of the new plan was that children would finish primary school after grade 6 (currently they finish after grade 8), and transition to secondary school, to do 3 years in junior/ lower secondary and 3 years in senior / upper secondary. At the moment secondary schools only cater for 4 school years, so in order for this new plan to happen, secondary schools would need to create additional classroom and accommodation space. Primary schools, who currently have 8 classes, will find themselves with two spare classrooms as the children switch to stopping at grade 6 rather than grade 8. So that’s the intention, but in reality none of the secondary schools have sufficient extra capacity, and so the current grade 6 students don’t know if they are leaving their primary school at the end of next month or not, and if they are then they don’t know where they are going next! All a bit of a mess really!!
P6 students – yet to know where they will be going to school next year.

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