We are almost a full three weeks into the new school year and there is little doubt that 2019 will be, as expected, a year like no other in our 100 year history. A Centenary celebration that, by design, will offer our 500+ boys, in particular, an experience that will hopefully be remembered and savoured for many years to come.
Thank you to the many parents who joined us on Saturday morning 26th January to enjoy the Centenary Launch and the spirited Ridge School Parade through upper Westcliff. If the convivial and happy atmosphere that pervaded throughout that school family gathering is anything to go by, then we are certainly in for a bumper year.
Remaining with Centenary and related activities and functions, our boys and staff were treated to a well-researched and thoughtfully delivered History of The Ridge presentation at the HM Assembly last Friday morning. Lara Pearce (Archives Administrator) took us all on a fascinating trip down memory lane that provided a selection of interesting anecdotes, facts and figures from bygone eras. Pictures are worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and this certainly rang true as the boys received and were able to appreciate some of the legacy of the past as represented by people, places and historical moments that came alive on the big screen.
Centenary happenings to look out for in the months immediately ahead:
- 1st February … the Right Stuff Passports will be handed out to every boy
- 15th March … the annual Lumo Dance in the Nicolson Hall
- 20th March … the annual Soapbox Derby will take place on Rose Field
- 30th March … the Centenary Celebration Cocktail function for parents and friends of The Ridge will be held in the Channon and Wyborn Anniversary Quads
As most parents would be aware, for the last year there has been frantic activity around the construction of what is now our fabulous new Junior Primary block. In essence, this has represented the culmination of one of the key, long-term foundations associated with the centenary fund-raising and upgrade plans as shared with the school by James Clucas (Chairman of the Board) at a Founders’ Day ceremony a few years ago.
A large portion of the funding for this important phase has come to us via a R10 million loan from the school trust fund. A loan that we are now starting to repay. One of the areas that we are targeting to assist with this repayment is that of school deposit donations. It comes in the form of an earnest request to parents to please consider donating your son’s deposit as this is one of the most effective ways for us to pay down this loan. We are keenly aware that this is a big ask and are extremely grateful to all parents of The Ridge School for their ongoing support, generosity and assistance at so many different levels.
I would like to remind you that all donations to the School are subject to S18A tax certification and so qualify for deductions to annual taxes at a personal and business level. Attached is an explanation of how this works and we would be happy to explain this further should anyone wish to discuss this form of donor giving with us.
Manco and PC Directorate
I touched on the exciting introduction of both of these new management structures at my HM address at the Parents’ Information Evening on Monday 21st January. I was not able to expand on either new system due to constraint of time, so I will take the opportunity to share with mums and dads some of the functions that each will be taking on.
Manco: this is a senior management structure that has been introduced to support and work alongside Nick Diana. Nick, as Head of Senior Primary and SP Academic, is tasked with overseeing all operational features of the school curriculum and the related teaching and learning rollout.
The Manco is made up of the following experienced educators and administrators:
the Head of Whole School English (Urvasi Naidoo), the Head of Whole School Mathematics (Damian Pakkiri), the Head of Middle School (Erica Kinnear), the Head of Learning Support (Jan Mallen), the Head of Research and Innovation (Nicci Kurz), the Head of Information Technology (Daniel McLachlan), and the Head of IT Administration (Ashik Haripersadh). Mandy Herold attends at least one of the bi-weekly meetings in her capacity as Head of Junior Primary.
The roles and responsibilities of Manco are:
- To be responsible for upholding and safeguarding the vision and strategy that guides all delivery fundamentals associated with the whole school’s academic curriculum.
- To be responsible for the quality, standard and delivery of all aspects of The Ridge School’s entire teaching and learning programme.
- To review and recommend policies and practices that will improve and add value to the School’s academic delivery and to the formal curriculum at large.
- To be responsible for the joint monitoring of and co-operation between the various phases of academic transfer and distribution within the School as a whole.
- To be responsible for communicating into and leading through the process of converting curriculum strategy to teaching and learning practice.
- To be responsible for leading and managing subject / learning area meetings as and when required.
- To research and recommend new approaches to best practice teaching and learning methods and related implementation strategies.
- To keep abreast of developments in the field of Information and Technology and its role in enhancing the teaching and learning at The Ridge
- To be responsible for guiding the School’s broader educational technology support and implementation programmes.
- To take direct responsibility for representing The Ridge School at local, regional and national IEB curriculum gatherings and others.
The Pastoral Care Directorate:
This vitally important management team has been commissioned to be the think-tank responsible for overseeing the holistic development and well-being of all Ridge boys under the umbrella of what is loosely termed the Hidden Curriculum.
The PC Directorate is made up of Di Wellard (Director of Pastoral Care and member of the school Exco team), Ryan Bezuidenhout (Head of Upper School PC), Nico Seakamela (Head of Middle School PC), Another (Head of Junior Primary PC).
The group has been tasked with the following:
The Directorate’s main responsibilities:
- To act as a source of support, advice and expertise to our staff on matters of pastoral care, safety and safeguarding of the well-being of all Ridge boys.
- To co-ordinate the child pastoral care practices and procedures in the School.
- To work with the Headmaster to maintain an ongoing training programme for all School employees and other individuals working at the school.
- To liaise with the Headmaster to inform him of any concerns or ongoing issues that relate to what might be treats to the well-being of Ridge boys.
- To liaise with other professionals to ensure that the School contributes to the facilitation of any offer of early help when additional needs of boys are identified and contributing to plans to provide specialised support to boys who are in need of special care.
- To advise and act on all suspicions, concerns and/or evidence of the need for Ridge boys to receive additional support, or of boys who have suffered or are likely to suffer abuse and/or neglect, which is reported through to them.
- Where appropriate, to take part in Pastoral Care Conferences and /or reviews.
- To work with the Headmaster, the Head of Senior Primary and the Head of Junior Primary to monitor and review Pastoral Care policies and practices.
Lightning Alert System
There have been another series of tragic deaths around South Africa in recent days as a result of lightning strikes. One of the most recent being the death of Clinton Flynn, the Head of Sport at Crawford Prep, Sandton, yesterday afternoon. It needs to be made clear that Mr Flynn and his coaches had reacted appropriately to the school’s lightning alert system, that the children had been sent to places of safety, and that extenuating circumstances results in this tragedy.
I want to assure parents that our lightning alert system here at The Ridge is in good working order and can be trusted to give advanced warning of approaching storms. In summary, the system works as follows:
- The lightning alert siren will go off if lightning strikes within a 15km radius of the school.
- The siren is mounted on the Nicolson Hall and has a very powerful and blaring resound.
- An ‘all clear’ siren will sound after 30 minutes should there be no more strikes within a 15 km radius.
- The ‘all clear’ will only go off 30 minutes after the last recorded strike.
The reality, as shared with members of staff this morning, is that no matter how good the system, there will always be a responsibility for coaches, teachers and parents to remain alert themselves, use their own common sense and act decisively if they believe that lightning is threatening.
To this end the following instructions have again been issued to all members of staff:
- When a storm is approaching anticipate that the lightning alert siren will probably go off.
- When it does, do not hesitate. Get the boys under appropriate cover and into safety as soon as possible.
- Staff are then responsible for looking after the boys in that place of safety.
- Only when the siren sounds an ‘all clear’ can the coaches or teachers return to the fields, tennis courts or swimming pool enclosure.
- If the ‘all clear’ is not given after an extended period of time and parents are intent on taking their boys home then the coaches and/or teachers may only release the boys if the parent or guardian is there in person to collect their son.
- Boys waiting in the carpark are expected to wait under shelter at all times when a storm is threatening or is overhead. They will be supervised accordingly.
- Coaches and staff at away fixtures or galas will take their lead from the host school (most have their own lightning alert systems) but will always be free to make a call themselves should they believe that there is a lightning threat in that area.
High Schools Information Expo – 31st January
For the fourth year in a row, The Ridge hosted a well-attended and seemingly very worthwhile information Expo in which a record eighteen schools were able to participate and display some of their unique offerings, whilst being on hand to answer questions from parents and boys.
The purpose of the Expo, in addition to giving each senior school a marketing and information-sharing platform, is to provide our Ridge Upper School (Grades 6 and 7) parents, in particular, with important choice-making options. Where it is understandable that certain of the more prominent and higher profiled Boys Colleges will always attract a lot of attention, the wider choice of senior schools as represented through the Expo, share a very strong message to mums and dads to make sure that they spend time investigating which college will prove to be the best possible fit for their son.
A Final Word … Living the Legacy
As mums and dads will now know, our theme for the year is Living the Legacy. Needless to say, what for children can be a rather abstract concept, will need some explanation and unpacking in order for them to better understand what living the legacy will need to look like in an everyday, school-related context.
Much of this should tie up very nicely with our longstanding Right Stuff initiative. Where our emphasis on promoting a Right Stuff approach to life has been in place for many years, it was reenergised and elevated in prominence last year with the introduction of the monthly Right Stuff awards.
This year, as part of the Centenary campaign, every boy has just been issued with a Right Stuff Passport. With the aim being to encourage each lad to earn community service stamps that by year end will have amounted to at least 100 minutes of service, it is hoped that the initiative will engender too, a deeper understanding of what the important service aspect of Living the Legacy ought to feel like.
Wishing all members of our Ridge family all the best and God’s richest blessings as we look toward the month of February and all that will be coming our way.