Pinelands North nominated for global school prize

Grade 2 pupils Sammy Dalvie, Jack Baker and Luca Sitas with principal Ann Morton.

Pinelands North Primary School has been nominated for the World’s Best School Prize in the category of “overcoming adversity”.

West End Primary from Mitchell’s Plain was nominated in the same category.

Premier Alan Winde and Education MEC David Maynier visited both schools last Thursday to make the announcement.

The schools now stand a chance of winning $50 000 (R801 870) in the competition launched by T4 Education in partnership with Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture and American Express. They will be up against schools from India, Australia, Malaysia, Brazil, Uganda, Jamaica, Kenya and Nigeria.

Pinelands North Primary’s principal, Ann Morton, who has been at the helm since 1997, said it was thrilling to celebrate the nomination with the school community.

“Our journey of experiencing overcoming adversity has been shared by many, which includes parents, teachers, pupils, school and governing body.”

Ms Morton said the school had striven to create an inclusive environment, welcoming pupils and teachers from different cultural backgrounds as well as transgender children (the school has gender-neutral bathrooms); installing ramps for children with disabilities; helping teachers and pupils with special needs; encouraging children to care for animals; and offering sign language as a subject in Grade 2 and woodwork and needlework classes to all genders.

Ms Morton said parents played a big part in the school community. “If parents are concerned about our teaching, they are allowed to sit in our classes to see how it is going.”

The school plans to buy a nearby property to develop a special-needs unit if it wins the prize money.

“This extension would not only provide a space for those with barriers but could be a venue for our online pupils to have a home base to meet and attend to participate in sporting activities or other extra-murals,” said Ms Morton.

Teacher Bev Pereira said there had been many changes at the school over the years. “Principal Morton has always been forward-thinking, looking at ways to adapt for the children and for the world we are living in.”

Mr Winde said: “To have two of our province’s schools shortlisted among the top-10 schools in the world in the category of ‘overcoming adversity’ is a massive achievement – setting a benchmark not only for our province but indeed the world over.”

Mr Maynier added: “The fact our province’s schools were the only ones in South Africa to make it into the top 10 in any category speaks volumes about the incredible work that our principals and teachers and schools are doing to deliver quality education in the province.”

The winners will be announced in World Education Week in October.

Pinelands North Primary School has gender-neutral bathrooms.
Ramps make the school accessible for pupils in wheelchairs.
Premier Alan Winde visited the school last week to make the announcement.