Top award for Westerford High

JOHN HARVEY

Westerford High School in Rondebosch has long been noted for its outstanding academic record, but being named recipient of the prestigious Ministerial Award at this year’s national Education Excellence and District Awards will surely rank among the institution’s finest moments.

In addition to this remarkable achievement, which recognised Westerford for having the best matric results in the years 2011 to 2015, the school also placed second in the Best Performing Public School category for last year’s National Senior Certificate examinations.

Only Bloemfontein’s Eunice High School and Durban’s Danville Park placed better, tying for first.

The awards, made by Education Minister Angie Motshekga in Pretoria on April 1, proved to be a red-letter day for Rondebosch schools, as Rustenburg Girls’ High School placed third in the same category.

What makes Westerford’s achievement even more extraordinary is that in the past five years only four pupils have failed to achieve a Bachelor’s degree pass.

“It’s an enormous achievement,” delighted Westerford principal Rob le Roux said. “To be able to sustain our performance over a five-year period is something of which we can be very proud.

“I think full credit must go to our staff, who are unbelievable. They are always present, and go way beyond what is set out by the curriculum. Then our parent body is incredibly supportive. So I think the efforts of our pupils, our teachers and our parents make the perfect triangle, and you need that in order to succeed as a school.”

Mr Le Roux humbly conceded that in attaining near-perfect results, Westerford was “very privileged”.

“Every year we get more than a thousand applications for Grade 8, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to take the best 180. And I must say, as much as I am honoured by this award, there are so many schools in the southern suburbs who also achieve amazing results. I doubt whether there is anywhere else in the world where you have so many top schools in a single area.”

One of Westerford’s great assets is the pupils’ work ethic, not only in the classroom but in any one the registered cultural societies.

“I think we’re a school where it’s okay to be seen as a nerd,” Mr Le Roux quipped. “In all seriousness, we are a proud academic school, although we also perform well in sport, which is compulsory for all pupils. I think we do well because from the moment the children arrive in Grade 8 we are preparing them for university. Our aim is to get everyone into university.”

Rustenburg Girls’ acting principal Susan Schnetler was equally delighted about her school’s performance in the Excellence Awards: “It was lovely to start the term with the exciting news that Rustenburg Girls’ High School was placed third in South Africa in the category, Top Performing Schools, at the recent awards ceremony,” she said.

“This achievement is testimony to the outstanding effort and dedication of our girls, parents and staff. We are a great team who hold the same values and ideals and, most especially, show such wonderful support for each other. It is very evident that our girls appreciate and celebrate the successes of their peers and I believe that this makes a considerable contribution to the accomplishments of the school as a whole.”