About Us

History of Sherwood Children's Assessment Centre  

New Sherwood EntranceChildren's Assessment & Therapy Centre Trust was established in January 1973 so we have just had our 40th anniversary! Three professionals, namely, Sylvia Shearer (Counselling Psychologist), Kay Erskine (Physiotherapist) and Elsie Lucas (Occupational Therapist) with a particular interest in working with developmentally delayed children at risk for learning difficulties and emotional adjustment issues got together to form this organisation, which arose out of the Lucigen Centre. They rented premises in Essenwood Road on Durban's Berea for a year before being able to purchase a grand old home in Harris Crescent, Sherwood, which they set about converting into offices and a small specialized pre-school.

From humble beginnings with a very small client load, the Centre grew and developed, increasing the range of services more and more to school-going children with learning difficulties and young adults who need career direction. The need for these services arose out of the limited psychological support services to school-going children, provided by the Education Department. Parents of children from all cultural groups (but particularly previously disadvantaged ones) are making education a greater priority. The parents not only want their children to achieve their potential but also recognise that success at school correlates closely with achieving financial independence in a highly competitive marketplace, later on in life. Addressing barriers to learning has therefore become increasingly important.

Then 15 years ago, to accommodate (lower-income) families who found it difficult to utilize the Centre's services on weekdays, a Saturday morning program was initiated. This was followed about two years later by a Community Outreach program with a range of educationally- and emotionally-supportive services aimed at kick-starting and filling in the gaps for previously disadvantaged learners at low-budget schools in the greater Durban area. In 2000 the Harris Crescent premises were re-vamped which included re-roofing the entire building and enlarging and modernizing the school. Our new premises at 868 King Cetshwayo Highway are significantly larger, enabling us to meet the growing need for developmental and educational support services and schooling.

As life has become more complicated, technology has advanced and the pace has quickened, there is a greater demand on children to acquire more complex skills and gather more information and knowledge as they are developing. Not only do some children get left behind owing to barriers to their development, which need to be removed, but conditions that may not have been that evident in the past have become more obvious. For instance, there has been n increase in children presenting with autistic spectrum disorders. The ability for hearing impaired children to have cochlear implants, has increased the need for specialist skills in such areas.

Children's Assessment and Therapy Centre was always multicultural and non-racial both in its beneficiary and staff profiles. However economic realities (previously impacted by apartheid) meant that the majority of clients up to 1994 were from a Caucasian background. This profile has changed post-apartheid, in keeping with general population demographics.

We provide services to about 3000 children, young people and their families or caregivers every year.

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Mission Statementillustration1 copy

We endeavour to promote normative holistic development in children and young persons, and wholesome supportive family life, through:

  • Early identification and intervention in respect of language, physical and perceptual developmental delays (which place young children at risk for later learning difficulties)
  • Early identification and intervention regarding barriers to learning & learning disabilities to develop strengths and skills to enable learners to achieve their full scholastic potential (vocational guidance for young people is a further preventive and supportive tool)
  • Early identification and intervention concerning emotional, behavioural and family relationship disturbances, towards building self-esteem, social and life skills in children and young people; and parenting skills

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Legal & Business Status

Children's Assessment & Therapy Centre has from the start been a non-profit organization. It was originally registered as a "Welfare Organisation" with a "Fundraising Number" recognizing our aim to provide services to
children, regardless of their parent's financial status (which requires donor support).

In line with more modern requirements in 2000 we registered with the NonProfit Organisation Directorate under the Department of Social Development, giving us the right to fundraise to meet our budget needs. We then obtained Section 18A status enabling donors to get tax deductions. We are also registered as a Public Benefit Organisation and as such, are exempt from income tax. Regretfully, we are required to pay Value-Added-Tax on our fee income.

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Governance illustration2 copy

We are a voluntary association with a constitution and are governed by a Board of Management as follows:

Chairman - Chris van Wyk

Vice Chairman - Ezra Altshuler

Treasurer - Colin Linnett

Secretary - Rajesh Mathuradas (ex-officio)

Members - Judy Fynn; Eugene Lushaba; Noel Moodley; Thesi Reddy; Justine Schapers (ex-officio); Robyn Shepstone (ex-officio); Brenda Talbot

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We currently have a multicultural staff complement of about 50. (We are able to conduct assessments and therapy in 5 languages; English, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Sotho.) We have a core of full-time administrative and grounds staff and a few professionals but the bulk of our staff members are employed on a part-time or sessional basis. Our staff management team comprises:

Robyn Shepstone
Rajesh Mathuradas  Justine Schapers Lindeni Ngubane Suzanne Beattie

Our professional staff members are:
Psychologists, Speech & Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Remedial Teachers, Teachers

We also have consultants in the fields of Paediatrics, Neuro-paediatrics, Psychiatry, Physiotherapy and Audiometry.

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Latest Development

In the 1980's the Centre's Trust Board recognized the need for enlarged premises with bigger grounds. The municipal-owned vacant ground across the road was allocated but unfortunately the Centre could not accumulate sufficient funds to make its dream a reality so the plan was scotched.

buildingAbout 8 years ago, the current incumbents of the Centre's Trust Board resumed negotiations with eThekwini Metro Council Real Estate Department with a view to again being considered for the land across the road. It became clear that as this has since been declared Public Open Space, it was no longer available to the Centre. After surveying potential suitable sites, the Centre put in a tender for a piece of the William Clark Gardens Estate (previously Sherwood Tennis Club) held in trusteeship by eThekwini Metro Council. The site was awarded to the Centre on a 30 year long-lease basis and we were successful in raising the necessary funds (R22 million) to develop the site from a very generous, single donor. The first clods of earth were turned over in November 2011 only for building operations to be brought to a complete standstill for 6 months after an endangered species of chameleon (the Black-necked dwarf chameleon) was found on the site. After an Environmental Impact Assessment was done and measures were put in place to protect the chameleons and adjustments made to the building design; building resumed in May 2012. We were fortunate to receive extra funding from our benefactor to cover the additional expense incurred. We took occupancy in November 2013

The floor space of the custom-built Children's Centre is more than four times that of our current premises and with bigger grounds. Apart from having many more admin offices and therapy rooms, we will have a community outreach resource room, staff library, staff lounge, hall, art room, media centre, more classrooms up to senior primary and an after-school care room.

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New Name and IdentityBirdwood Primary School

Sherwood Children's Centre is the new name for our organization, a children's development centre. Our school, which up until now has been a pre-school cum developmental unit, has been known as the Kingfisher Pre-Primary Developmental Unit. The new name is Birdwood School (in honour of our donor) and to reflect the fact that we will gradually be extending to Senior Primary.



Contact Us

Physical Address: 868 King Cetshwayo Highway,
Sherwood, 4091, KwaZulu-Natal

Postal Address: P O Box 30149, Mayville, 4058

Telephone: 031-2085117

Fax: 031-2085204

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.