The Headmaster’s Newsletter

Dear Parents

The half-term weekend came as a welcome breather for many, I’m sure, and I trust that mums and dads were able to enjoy some important catch-up time with your lads without school activities getting in the way.

Whilst for most boys it was a non-sporting, away from school time-out, for a number of SP lads and their parents there was in fact a good deal happening on the extramural front during the half-term break:

We were delighted to welcome an inbound cricket tour of Clifton (Durban) and Cordwalles boys, coaches and parents as we played host to their U10, U11 and 1st XI teams – my sincere thanks to The Ridge families who hosted the KZN lads for the three nights of their tour; our basketball squad joined teams from three other JHB schools on a whistle-stop tour of the Mother City; a good number of our climbers and their families joined boys and parents from other schools for a brief climbing weekend in the Machadodorp area; and the Open water polo team was involved in a festival at St David’s Prep School.

Savouring the Spirit in Sport:

Needless-to-say, most of you would have made time last Sunday to gather with family and friends to support the Boks as they did battle against Wales. The hard fought 19 – 16 win having set up a mouth-watering final against England this coming Saturday.

As I sit to compose this newsletter at this time when, as a nation, we can again feel part of the pride and spirit of national unity that is galvanising us all to get behind our Springbok team, I’m reminded of the power that can be harnessed through sport. The power to believe … for an individual, for a team, for a school, for a nation.


In a recent News 24 article written by editor-in-chief, Adriaan Basson, he speaks of this power. Not in a general sense, but more particularly as it has been harnessed, personalised and modelled in the life of our Springbok captain, Siyamthanda Kolisi.

“One rugby game of 80 minutes will not solve our massive problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality. It won’t fix Eskom, help the National Prosecuting Authority start making those long-awaited state capture arrests or magically eradicate racism.

A Bok victory will not undo the damage done to our social fabric by a vicious and divisive campaign designed by a politician and his friends to capture billions in state revenue. And it will certainly not do away with Twitter trolls and those who made it their political project to divide us according to our apartheid race classifications. 

But a victory may show and inspire us that we are #StrongerTogether, which has become the slogan of Bok captain Siya Kolisi’s campaign to RWC glory.


Sport has the magical ability to make us put our differences aside for a fleeting moment and rejoice in unity. The streets of Twitter may even be less volatile on Saturday morning! (Imagine Helen Zille and Julius Malema agreeing on something!)

The importance of Kolisi – the first black Springbok skipper – leading us to possible World Cup glory cannot be overstated. Not only does he carry the dreams of 59 million South Africans, but Kolisi’s story will inspire a generation of poor black boys and girls who are looking for their one break in life. 

Kolisi got his in 2003 when a talent scout spotted him representing Emsengeni Primary School in Zwide, outside Port Elizabeth, at a rugby tournament. Up to then, Kolisi and his friends practiced rugby with their school shoes on a dusty field. The school only had one set of rugby jerseys, which they had to share between teams.


His school coach saw his talent and he was picked up by a working system, that saw him entering the rugby powerhouses Grey Junior and High School in Port Elizabeth. The rest is history. 

Kolisi’s story represents a South Africa that works. It shows that we have a system in place that identifies and rewards poor, black children who excel at their craft. Of course, the system isn’t perfect and naturally there are people who have abused policies of redress for their selfish, nefarious purposes.

But Kolisi’s story shows what a working system can achieve. He didn’t have the financial means or old boys’ network to get “normal” access to the country’s elite rugby schools, but we had rugby coaches and scouts out there who understood the importance of identifying top black talent for the sport to survive. 

Rugby was inherently associated with the apartheid-system. For many years, black and white rugby players were prohibited by law from playing together and the green and gold jersey was only accessible to white men with the right networks. 

Kolisi and those who came before him – people like the late Chester Williams, Tinus Linee, Lawrence Sephaka, Owen Nkumane, Thando Manana and Breyton Paulse – bashed down the walls and showed the world (and South Africa) that rugby was not the preserve of white men. 

South African rugby has been through a lot and “transformation” was for many years treated like a swear word, but we have finally reached a place where the majority of South Africans will unite behind a black captain from Zwide to take us over the final hurdle on Saturday at Yokohama Stadium.


Siyamthanda Kolisi has showed us that you can conquer the world despite hardship and struggle. He is a South African hero.”

What a well written and thought-provoking article that can only serve to inspire at this time when, a few days before the Springboks take on England, it makes real sense to add deeper meaning and pathos to the Captain’s #StrongerTogether motivating call.


It also provides a degree of context for boys, parents, coaches and educators as we consider all that has been achieved on the extramural front here at The Ridge this past year. Here I am not referring necessarily to results, winning or losing, or The Ridge Spirit, as important as each of these might be considered to be. I am inspired, more especially, by Siya Kolisi’s story because it reaffirms the importance of recognition, opportunity, resilience, reward and equality as offered within a sporting context, and it personalises how the head, hands and heart, working together, can give rise to hope.

It also shares a message of life, learning and leadership: the life and learning so poignantly captured in the way that Siya Kolisi has chosen to embrace and make the most of the opportunities that have come his way, while the leadership is so beautifully encapsulated in this inspirational man’s story just days before he leads his Springbok team into the World Cup Final to challenge for the Webb Ellis Trophy.

Whatever happens in that Yokohama Stadium on Saturday evening, history will have been written as a proud nation stands together in support of a young captain winning his 50th Springbok cap as he leads his Green and Gold team. Children of all ages will know that dreams can become a reality and that struggles can turn into triumphs no matter what challenges one might have faced along the way.

Staffing news: 

  • I am delighted to share the news that Ashik and Rosanne Haripersadh have joined the parent ranks having been blessed with their first child, a beautiful daughter. Arielle Anne Haripersadh was born early on the morning of the 21st October.
  • A full breakdown of teaching staff movement and related comings and goings will be shared with the parent body in my next newsletter on the 14th November.

School Security: 

The armed robbery in the Kingsmead School parking lot last week has again raised awareness for all schools and their security personnel to remain on high alert. More particularly, it reminds us that no matter what security system a school chooses to employ, criminals seeking to cause a disruption or to take advantage, will seek ‘creative ways’ of doing so. Kingsmead College and Prep have one of the tightest car park security systems available.


Here at The Ridge, we have again communicated our concerns to the guards and to the Dailtron Security Services administration. Every effort will continue to be made to maintain a vigilant and strong oversight of all parking areas and access points into and out of the school property.

I would ask that parents make it their business to remain aware, alert and watchful as they approach the school along arterial roads. If you see anything that might be considered to be suspicious, I would ask that you take the necessary measures to communicate your suspicions through to the school as soon as you are able to and to alert the guards at the Woolston or Lawley Road gates.

The School Estate and managing the drought:

Whilst the many folk have recently commented on just how amazing our school estate is looking, it is sad to have to report that the lack of early summer rains and the recent heat wave are really taking their toll. The boreholes have all but dried up and the Hersov Field, which is essentially the playground area for JP and Middle School boys, is taking a battering. As a school community we are cognisant of our responsibility to lead by example and to adhere to the level 2 water restrictions that have been imposed. We are again encouraging boys to be responsible when using water, to turn off taps and, wherever possible, to bring drinking water to school – preferably not in a single-use plastic bottle.


Board Succession Planning:  

On behalf of our Board Chairman, James Clucas, I would like to thank the mums and dads who have responded positively to the Chairman’s letter of the 8th October by offering their services in order to be considered for governorship here at The Ridge. The Board Succession Planning team will be meeting in the evening of 4 November ahead of the Board Meeting the next day in order to discuss and debate the applications.

A Final Word:

As we set our sights on preparing the boys for the ‘last lap’ of the school academic year, I would remind parents to stay close to The Ridge School App and, in particular, the live calendar that will keep us all well informed about the many upcoming events, fixtures and end of year functions that will be coming into view all too quickly.

Warm regards and God’s covering over you all and your families in the weeks remaining.


Richard Stanley


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