CAPE TOWN HIGH SCHOOL EARMARKED TO BECOME THE CITY’S NEXT MATHS AND SCIENCE EDUCATION LEADER
Over the past year, Cape Town High School has undergone extensive refurbishment thanks to a fledgling partnership between the Western Cape Education Department and the Leisure Group’s Charitable Trust. The largely maintenance-related upgrades are now nearing completion, but plans for the landmark city school are far from over. In fact, according to project representatives, the real work has only just begun.
“Renovating and repairing the facilities at Cape Town High has been a very important first step towards a much larger goal,” says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, member of the Leisure Charitable Trust, and recently-appointed board-member of Cape Town High’s governing body. “Our aim over the next few years is to help the school become a centre for excellence in maths and science education. Creating a safe, healthy and stimulating learning environment is only the start.”
While the renovations have focussed largely on returning the school to peak condition – including painting, roof and window repairs, bathroom refits, paving and more – there has also been an emphasis on increasing the number of students the school will be able to accommodate in the future. This ties closely into plans from the Leisure Group’s Education Trust to supplement future student intakes with underprivileged learners who have a high aptitude for maths and science.
“The Leisure Education Trust sources students with the potential to excel in maths and science from primary schools in underprivileged areas, and sponsors their education at selected high schools that are able – in conjunction with our mentorship programs – to nurture that potential into fruition,” says Keith Turberville, trustee for both the Leisure Education and the Leisure Charitable Trust. “The partnership between the Charitable Trust and the Western Cape Education Department is intended to turn Cape Town High School into just such an institution.”
The decision to get involved with Cape Town High, specifically, was the result of many months of deliberation by members of both trusts, many of whom have backgrounds in property development and the building industry. Numerous school representatives and education specialists were also consulted, including Penny Vinjevold, the Superintendent General of Education in the Western Cape, whose input was instrumental in the final decision.
“At first, we were considering building a brand new school based on a similar model to Claremont High,” says Keith Turberville, “but it soon became clear that we could do more good more quickly by improving an existing facility with room to grow.”
At Cape Town High, that growth is expected to see around 300 more student placements available, across all grades. Fifty of these each year, on Grade 8 intake, will be Leisure Education Trust science- and math-focussed beneficiaries. The intended effects of this are twofold.
“Firstly, by feeding a significant number of talented math and science minds into the school, we’re encouraging educators to focus on these areas, which will hopefully see more likeminded students apply for admission as time goes by,” says Turberville. “Secondly, the guaranteed income from the Education Trust’s beneficiaries will help supplement the school’s cash-flow, and enable Cape Town High to compete with other schools to attract top quality staff.”
As Bill Rawson points out, however, the school will require a certain level of funding at the outset in order to ensure the standard of education required by the Leisure Education Trust for its beneficiaries.
“The Charitable Trust is working very closely with the school’s headmaster and administrative staff to put in place sound financial management processes and address the millions of rands worth of outstanding fees owed to the school,” he says. “It’s important to us to build a self-sustaining model that won’t have to rely on private funding in order to succeed.”
While Cape Town High’s evolution is only just beginning, the long-term goal is to become Cape Town’s next, official, maths and science specialist school. This will involve slowly phasing out some subjects in order to concentrate on a broader variety of maths and science disciplines.
These changes are unlikely to happen overnight, but if things go as well as expected, it could be the first of many similar projects and a positive start towards a better education for all.
The Leisure Charitable Trust would like to thank the following donors for their generous contributions towards Cape Town High’s refurbishment: Afrimat, Afrisam, Allens Meshco, Basson Workwear, Broadway Hardware, Buco (Paarl), Builders Trade Depot, JLK Construction (Pty) Ltd, The Tile House, Tiletoria, Plascon, the Rawson Property Group, W&B Hardware and the Western Cape Education Department.