The Headmaster’s Newsletter

Dear Parents

Welcome back to you all after what I hope was a happy and relaxing half-term and particularly for those who were able to find some time to be with your lads during their week long break from school.

A few early reminders:

As we pick up momentum again in preparation for the five weeks of term that still remain, it is important to please take note of the following:

  • The 2nd Semester academic programme continues to gather pace and will run through to the end of the academic year in November;
  • The Parents’ Interviews for our Senior Prep mums and dads will be taking place, as scheduled and booked for; tomorrow afternoon/evening, 9th July, between 16.00 and 19.00, and on Wednesday 10th July between 14.00 and 17.30;
  • At ‘centre stage’ for the next two weeks is Janet Fox’s “A Westcliff Story”  Parents would have already received a letter from Mrs Fox providing details of all that parents will need to know regarding rehearsal and performance time, arrival and departure times of the boys, etc;
  • The football season is already in full swing. A reminder that this is a compulsory sport and so every boy will be expected to participate unless, for medical reasons, he has been excused;
  • We will be hosting our Centenary Old Boys’ Dinner in the Nicolson Hall on the evening of the 26th July;
  • The following day is, of course, set aside for our Centenary Founders’ Day which is a compulsory school day for all Ridge boys.

Our Live Calendar, found on the Ridge App, will give details of so much more that parents will need to keep tabs on as the days ahead come into view.

The Ridge Centenary Rugby Festival:

This Centenary year has offered up a number of opportunities to try something new or something done a little differently. Notwithstanding our 100 years of educational practice and history, the exciting ‘stretch’ nature of our Centenary programme of events has given rise to a number of these ‘experimental firsts’.

One such event took place between the 28th and 30th June when we were delighted to host our very first ever Ridge Rugby Festival. Eleven visiting 1st XV rugby squads, some local and a few from outside Gauteng, participated in three days of highly entertaining festival rugby.

What a special joy and privilege it was for me as headmaster to witness and be a part of this significant and hugely successful three day event.

Playing host to eleven visiting squads, coaches and managers, their respective parent contingents, as well as members of our own enthusiastically expectant Ridge family took some doing … and it was in the doing that we again demonstrated the uniqueness of our Ridge Spirit.

The intentional and meticulous planning of the many supporting features required to hold such a festival together was played out with precision: from the transport and hosting arrangements associated with looking after all visiting teams; the customised preparation of the Hope Field, other holding venues and Nicolson Hall; to the detailed planning directed at  the two evening functions and the carefully thought through inter-schools fixtures programme, nothing was left to chance.

The three days provided for a highly successful celebration of prep school festival rugby that validated and brought to life yet another worthwhile Centenary ‘first’ that will be happily remembered and fondly looked back on in the years to come.

I would like to thank and pay tribute to Sarah Chorley, the Festival Convenor, who committed countless hours to planning and preparing for what was a finely-tuned and wonderfully memorable event. Sarah was ably assisted by her hard-working Rugby Festival Committee made up of Judith Slettevold, Natalie Elliot, Debbie Thomas, and Cindy Stoutjesdyk. As always, Angie Chapman, as Chair of the Centenary Committee, was again on call to offer hands-on support and guidance throughout the three days.

It is appropriate, too, to congratulate and thank our Director of Sport, Bennie du Preez, on having so successfully masterminded the many logistics and related arrangements associated with accommodating, transporting and looking after the needs of all twelve participating teams. In addition, to add that the weekend was made complete through the selfless service and support of so many other people. In particular, our Ridge teaching, coaching, estate, housekeeping and catering teams. To them all, a sincere vote of thanks. Finally, my thanks to the many Ridge parents who turned out in number to share and enjoy the festival spirit.

Environmental awareness and related responsibilities:

With the environment under siege, little needs to be said about Mother Nature’s growing travails as her natural world continues to suffer and suffocate under the merciless weight of our human neglect and wanton exploitation. So immense is the related challenge for humanity in general and, in particular, for us as individuals as we consider where to start repairing the damage, that, all too often, many of us simply go through the motions. Our need to act is often unconsciously abrogated as we look to others who, seemingly, have more resources at their disposal or more influence, and so who can supposedly make a real difference.

Here at The Ridge we have a long way to go before we can honestly say that we are playing a meaningful part and are doing enough. After all, in this context, what is enough? Holly Ferrer (Grade 2 class teacher) and Terri-Lee Dix (parent and PA rep) have taken on the challenge to lead our school into a more resolute commitment to do things differently.

The Ridge School’s ECO – Code sets out the following five bullets that we are wanting / needing to bring to life in ways that confirm that we are taking each one more seriously.

The Ridge School’s ECO – Code:

  • Growing environmental capacity through a whole school involvement
  • Manage water and electricity more wisely
  • Minimize wastage and develop recycling at school and at home
  • Embed action in the curriculum to enhance learning and understanding amongst our boys
  • Share ideas and improve co-operation throughout the school community and outreach

In reading through and pondering our necessary response to each of these it struck me that we are clearly not tapping into all that, in particular, the last bullet is offering up. To this end I would invite those who might be interested in participating in a school community ECO think tank to please contact Holly Ferrer, Terri-Lee Dix or me.

Parents’ driving habits:

The subject of reckless and dangerous driving by a small number of parents was raised again at the most recent PA meeting. Understandably, I view this kind of negligent and downright thoughtless behaviour in an extremely dim light; a view shared by the vast majority of parents and members of staff.

It should go without saying that whilst entering, driving through and exiting the school grounds parents are expected to be on high alert at all times.

This translates into:

  • driving at no more than 10 km/hour until your vehicle has left the school grounds;
  • being ever watchful for little boys moving in front of or behind one’s vehicle;
  • being thoughtful about and courteous of other drivers;
  • obeying and complying with the Stop and Go protocols;
  • parking in ways that do not hinder the through flow of traffic;
  • playing one’s part in making sure that both the Lawley Road and Woolston Road car parks and the Irish gate drop off point are 100% child-safe zones for all our boys and any other children who might be visiting us.

I would repeat my earnest appeal to all parents, guardians and au pairs to play your part in helping to make sure that we will never have to face and deal with a tragic accident here on the school grounds that has been caused by negligent and dangerous driving.

The Ridge School Raffle:

The Ridge Trust, supported by the Board of Governors, has, for some years, been setting aside an annual budget allocation of fee assistance in the interests of being able to assist current Ridge families who, from time to time, find themselves in a tight financial squeeze. These fee assistance grants are very carefully allocated and individually monitored by a special Bursary Sub-committee of the Board. Each application is subject to a means analysis before qualifying for a grant-in-aid of any nature. This process is followed annually.

In addition, James Clucas, as Chairman of the Board, has been particularly intentional in his drive to secure related funds from old boy donors. It is good to report that he has been successful in securing some generous long-term funding, specifically earmarked to fee assistance, from a growing number of old boy benefactors.

I am pleased to inform parents that you will be receiving a flier with the details regarding the launch this week of The Ridge School Raffle. All money raised will be going towards our Ridge Trust Fee Assistance Fund. In brief, the Raffle details are as follows:

  • Prize 1 is tuition fees to the value of R128 000 at ANY school in South Africa.
  • Prize 2 is a one-week stay for up to 10 people at the 4 star Morokolo Lodge in the Pilanesberg.
  • The 1st winner drawn will have the option to choose either prize should he/she wish to. The 2nd winner drawn will receive the prize not opted for.
  • A consolation prize will be drawn for a 3rd winner which is a Ridge School hamper.
  • The ticket price is R500;
  • There are only 1500 tickets available;
  • The winner will be drawn once all tickets have been sold or on 3 December. 
  • All Terms & Conditions will be according to the Competitions Act requirements;
  • The Quicket system will be used for online ticket sales;
  • Tickets will also be sold manually at “A Westcliff Story” and at Founders’ Day;
  • Needless-to-say there as absolutely no obligation for parents to participate in the raffle.

A Final Word:

I have included a thought-provoking article written by Mrs Janice Fialka entitled The Dance of Partnership – Why do my feet hurt? at the end of my newsletter.

Whilst the article is written within a special needs context, it nonetheless reminds me again of the significance of the trust, co-operation and respect that needs to exist between the parent and the professional. A partnership that must always centre entirely on the well-being of the child. A working relationship aimed ultimately at the fashioning of a unique set of wings that will release each child’s own potential to fly in ways that are ideally right for them.

The article is a direct transcript of a keynote address that Janice Fialka gave at a Special Needs Conference some twenty years ago. Nonetheless, in the mainstream teaching and learning context, I still found the wisdom of her advice to be both challenging and heart-warming. There is a simple but deep resonance that one can draw from her words of advice that, notwithstanding the specific reference to special needs, still holds true for all of us in these times when the partnership between home and school is needing to be stronger than ever before.

Mrs Fialka touches on five imperatives that she believes serve to underpin a healthy, trusting relationship between parent and professional:

  1. Choice: Do you wanna dance
  2. Forced Intimacy: Too close for comfort
  3. Identification of Partners: Will the real partner(s) please come forward?
  4. Role Expectations: Who’s leading the dance?
  5. Differing Priorities Do you hear what I hear?


Best wishes and God’s blessings and covering as we enter the second half of the term.

Warm regards


Richard Stanley

Appendix 2- The Dance of Partnership_Page_1Appendix 2- The Dance of Partnership_Page_2Appendix 2- The Dance of Partnership_Page_3Appendix 2- The Dance of Partnership_Page_4Appendix 2- The Dance of Partnership_Page_5Appendix 2- The Dance of Partnership_Page_6

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