Windsor High School in Lansdowne has a new principal at the helm, and he, along with his team, has vowed to rid the school of its bad reputation once and for all.
Phaldie Tregonning of Strandfontein took over in July last year, and already his strategy to improve academic results and eradicate anti-social behaviour seems to be paying off: the school scored a 100 percent matric pass rate for 2016.
Mr Tregonning taught at Rocklands High School in Mitchell’s Plain for 27 years, then worked as a curriculum adviser for the metropole east education district from April 1 to June last year before taking up his current post.
“Many people badmouth the schools in Mitchell’s Plain even though they receive great results. Those kids are amazing.
“I motivate pupils by showing them pictures of past pupils who have gone on to become engineers, lawyers, doctors and professional soccer players.
“As a teacher, you tend to forget the positive impact you have on children,” he said.
In the past, Windsor High’s reputation had been marred by bullying, drug use, truancy and discipline issues, he said, adding that he hopes to turn things around by focusing on academic excellence.
“When I started at the school, I employed an observer role and fostered an open door policy with staff members.
“I believe that if everybody works together we can achieve great results,” he said.
Mr Tregonning said he has been visiting primary schools in the area to build relationships and to make parents aware that Windsor High School is changing.
“Due to the negativity attached to the school, many parents opt to send their children to schools outside of the community.
“I want to show them that there is a good high school in their area that they can send their children to. I believe that Windsor High School should be a feeder school for the primary schools in the surrounding community.”
Last year, Mr Tregonning set-up study groups and pupils came to school on a Saturday from 3pm until 8pm in full school uniform.
“I did have my doubts but they burnt the midnight oil. I got quite emotional when I fetched the results at the district office in Maitland.
“The pupils achieved a 100 percent pass rate in nine subjects and 90 percent and up in the remaining five subjects.
“We also received 59 percent Bachelors passes; an increase of
three percent from the previous year. It shows you that even with problems pupils can excel.”
Mr Tregonning said single-parent households; unemployment and a lack of discipline contributed to the anti-social behaviour exhibited by pupils at the school.
“In many of these households there is no ‘iron fist’ and due to that they come to school and mirror the destructive behavioural patterns present in the household.”
He wants to foster quality learning and teaching as well as enforcing discipline at the school.
“The school is under-resourced and this is the first school I have come across that does not have an interactive whiteboard,” he said.
Mr Tregonning is determined to bring additional structure and instil a sense of pride among the school community.
“Parents are more than willing to view our assessment plan where they are able to see when their children need to hand in assignments and when they are writing controlled tests.
“The onus is on the parent to play a pro-active role in their children’s academic careers,” he said.
Mr Tregonning said he has a healthy sibling rivalry with his two brothers, Carder and Dawood, which keeps him motivated.
“They are both principals. Carder works at Pelican Park High School and achieved a 97 percent matric pass rate last year.
“My other brother, Dawood, is at Grassdale High School and clinched a 94 percent pass rate.”