The Headmaster’s Newsletter

Dear Parents 

14th February … Happy Valentine’s Day.

Whilst commercialism has perhaps somewhat tarnished what ought still to be so refreshing and sincere about a day when Romantic /Eros Love is celebrated, it’s nonetheless still very appropriate within our prep school boys’ environment to make reference to hearts, red roses and sincere messages that speak words of love.75-755856_not-loved-by-parents-high-resolution-valentines-day

Looking at the boys’ faces during our Valentine’s Day Assembly this morning, I’m really comfortable that their young hearts were resonating well with what is, after all, such a natural and instinctive part of their make-up. To love and be loved.


Of course, the demonstrations and expressions of the four types of love take many forms and are characterised and personalised through so much that touches our lives and those of our children each and every day. In a world that is beset with so much that is at odds with messages of love of any kind, it is very good, again, to be reminded that unconditional, true love can and will always, in my view, come out on top.

School Leadership:

New Governors: As we brought the curtain down on 2019 and all that Centenary had blessed us with, we were faced with having to say goodbye to a few key people. Some of these, in the form of governors, had been involved in the life of The Ridge, as guiding lights and custodian spirits, for an extended period of time. It’s never easy to replace men and women who have been prepared to give so unselfishly and with real energy into the life of a school, so James Clucas (Chairman of the Board), Itumeleng Kgaboesele (Chairman-elect) and their team had been hard at work for some months leading up to year end acting on the Board’s succession action plan.

I am pleased to report that we will be welcoming six new governors onto the Board at the Board Meeting on the afternoon of 10 March.

The new governors are:

  • Mrs Aimee Girdwood
  • Mrs Bhavna Gounder
  • Mr Isaac Malevu
  • Mr Kabelo Gude
  • Mr Rolf Eichweber
  • Mrs Lisa Simelane

Financial Manager: It is with a very heavy heart that I share the news that Gillian

Gillian Dippenaar

Dippenaar, our School Bursar for the past five years, will be leaving us in the middle of May this year in order to take up a bursar position at St Christopher’s Prep School in Hove in the United Kingdom. Gillian has been a remarkably professional, passionate, financially astute, and warmly personable Financial Manager during her five years here at The Ridge and will be sorely missed. An advert for a suitable replacement has been posted on various recruitment websites and we will have a new School Bursar in place by 1 June.


The Ridge Community Engagement Programmes for 2020

  1. Proposed Care-to-Learn opportunities for the boys:

a) The Grade 7 Headmaster’s Leadership Program (HLP) (community outreach/ service component)

The Headmaster’s leadership program has 4 components to it, one of these is community service. The intention is to encourage Grade 7 boys to spend time at an organisation of their choice and learn how these make an impact on their benefactors. Over the years, however, this worthy initiative translated into boys asking for one thing or another from the broader school community and then passing it on to the organisation of choice.

The plan going forward is to streamline the program so that the emphasis is on boys giving of themselves and spending time at their charity of choice and fundraising for the organisation. These fundraising initiatives should be kept to a minimum at school. The final ratification whether to allow an appeal or not is and will remain my prerogative as headmaster. The efforts of the Grade 7s will not be restricted, they can engage with any organisation of their choice. They can look at relief funds and issues that affect people that need immediate action e.g. The Cyclone in Mozambique.

The HLP initiatives will be targeted at the Senior Prep (SP) of the school i.e. Grade 4-7.

b) Grade 0 – 6 Outreach initiatives

The suggestion going forward is that each Grade be linked up with an organisation that they will support. The primary focus of the said organisations should be:

  1. Child related charity work
  2. Animal relief work and
  3. Organisations within the school vicinity.

The Grade Head, or their designated delegate, will make contact with the organisation annually to establish the organisation’s needs. Once these needs are established a plan will be put together on how to meet them, within a reasonable expectation that is. To encourage a meaningful and sustainable relationship with the organisation, each Grade is encouraged to devise a plan that will include periodic and regular visits, fundraising initiatives and school presentation of the work the Grade is involved with. The plan might divide the Grade into three terms and each class has a term to support the organisation or the whole Grade working together. Please note that this is a Grade initiative, totally different to Action Day. This is done throughout the year and not on 1 specific day.

c) Right Stuff Passports

Ijeoma Solarin and her PA Committee will be picking up on the success of the RS Passports that proved to be so successful in galvanising many Ridge lads to reach out to others with acts of service during a Celebrate with Purpose Centenary Year.


This year, as we look to encourage boys to again seek opportunities to engage with others less fortunate than themselves or organisations that are in need of support and care, a revised ‘passport’ system has been thought up. The implementation will take the form of PA mums and dads manning a Right Stuff Passport table outside the Nicolson Hall each Friday morning. Boys, JP and SP, will be able to hand in support material (evidence) of their service initiatives and will receive a RS stamp in their ‘passport’ and on the back of their hand. It is a simple system that ought to continue to encourage boys to commit to 100 minutes (at least) of acts of service in some form or another as the year unfolds.

d) Annual Action Day

The school will plan an Annual Action day of community engagement. This will be changed annually depending on where the greatest need in the community is. The PA and the Head of Community Engagement at the school will decide on this initiative. This will be a whole school initiative that is decided on at the beginning of the year and could include an appeal. The whole school’s focus will be around this initiative and every effort should be made to make it a success. The day should be commemorated as close to Mandela Day as possible to avoid duplication.


e) The Johannesburg Mini Council

Johannesburg Mini Council is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation whose primary purpose is to bring young people from different backgrounds in the City of Joburg together. The secondary purpose, which is just as important, is to use the power of social capital to assist the less fortunate. Pupils interact with fellow boys and girls from across the Johannesburg Metropolis both for the purpose of bridging the divide among our leaners but also for the sake of breaking down prejudices.  The Ridge has two representatives on the Council. The Council runs annual drives that include Easter Egg collections, Christmas drives as well as a blanket collection during the winter term. This has been a worthy cause and has been supported over the years by the school.

f) Task Money

Task money is a termly collection. The boys in the Junior Prep are encouraged to do chores at home for which a token payment of R5.00 is given as a reward. Boys are then expected to put these in a Class and then Grade kitty. At the end of the Term the cash is then given to a charity organisation identified at the beginning of the term.

  1. Partnership of Hope 

A year ago, almost to the day, the Partnership of Hope ECD teacher training initiative was launched here at The Ridge. Together with the Teachers’ Learning Centre, we have been delighted to host and co-facilitate what is a weekly, five hour Saturday morning teacher training programme. This is designed to upskill, uplift and empower young caregivers who provide day-care support for very young children in their respective neighbourhoods. The one common feature linking them all is that the communities in which they serve are all desperately impoverished and underprivileged. Our current group of twenty teacher trainees will qualify with a certificate at the end of May this year.

The course being offered is an eighteen months Accredited Short Course Programme in the field of ECD and Grade R Phase teacher education.

On successful completion of the 142-credit, assessment-based qualification, teachers will be awarded with a recognised Full NQF Level 4 Certificate.

It is important to note that this is a legitimate and recognised qualification, endorsed under the National Further Education and Training (FET) Certification that are in place to govern Early Childhood Development (ECD) protocols. It can also serve to qualify the trainees for CPTD points and to allow the students to register with the South African Council for Educators. Officially it has been registered as an NQF Level 4 qualification.

We have been blessed with some wonderful support from a few parents and corporates. As a result these very generous donations are allowing for us to offer the programme to another twenty ECD teacher trainees as from the end of February.

  1. The Ridge School’s Realema Teacher Internship Programme:

We were delighted again in early January to welcome two young men, freshly out of school, to join the ranks of our Realema Intern group. Ayibongwe Dube and Obakeng Maila are these newest Ridge School recruits who join a highly successful intern empowerment and support programme that has been running for the past five years.

The Realema Teacher Internship Programme is a stand-alone NPO whose vision is to offer Masibambane students the opportunity to study a teaching degree, thereby developing professional, passionate and experienced teachers who will contribute to their communities, partner schools and to South African education.

We are very proud of the other seven young Realema men who have been so much a part of the life of our school for the past four or five years.

  • Zibula Dladla is a full-time, permanent member of our Ridge staff team, having completed his B Ed Degree midway through last year. He has been a vibrant and gifted member of the isiZulu teaching team for three years and, having proved himself, is now heading up the SP isiZulu teaching and learning programme.
  • Gift Nkosi has also completed his B Ed Degree. Having enjoyed three successful years with us, he joined St Andrews College for a stint in a senior school environment. He recently joined WHPS in Pretoria as a full-time member of their teaching staff.
  • Teboho Dlamini completed his five years with us at the end of 2019. He will be completing his B Ed Degree by the end of this month and is hoping to join his old primary school back in Orange Farm as a young educator ready and able to give back into his own community.
  • Akhona Mtshabe is about to complete his B Ed Degree. He has enjoyed four years with us here at The Ridge and has shown himself to be a talented and had working young Intermediate Phase teacher.
  • Neo Motaung was with us for three years before having a brief work experience at Michaelhouse last year. He has recently joined St Peter’s Boys Prep as a Maths co-teacher. He is looking forward to completing his B Ed Degree by mid-year.
  • Bruce Ncube and Tafadzwa Matariro joined us at the beginning of last year and are in their second year of UNISA studies.

Where these young Realema Interns all teach and coach in the Senior Primary, we are very pleased to have welcomed an additional group of young lady interns into the Junior Primary in January this year. We look forward to getting to know Khanya Knight, Nadine Mckenzie, Kgathane Malane, Thinavhuyo Maloba, Masana Maringa, and Mokgantsho Matsela as they share their drive, passion and many talents with us all.

Bus Transport and Pupil Safety 

As an addendum to the revised Camp Safety protocols that were shared with parents a few weeks ago, the following Bus Transport Safety Measures have again been confirmed with Stabus Services:

  • Safety of passages is their ‘number one priority’.
  • The DriveRisk System, that monitors the conduct and behaviour of each driver whilst behind the steering wheel of their busses, is fully operational.
  • Two people are specifically assigned to monitor all the StaBus busses and their drivers at all times.
  • This includes monitoring of the Live Tracking system.
  • Reports from the DriveRisk tracking company are sent through daily. These include the ‘drive cam’ monitoring reports.
  • These daily reports come through to Regional Manager at 04.00 every morning. 
  • Driver behaviour is monitored very closely.
  • Should inconsistencies and bad driving be shown up, drivers are charged and discipline procedures are carried out.
  • Records are kept in-house but can be released to us under special circumstances. Understandably, the drivers are protected by the POPI Act.
  • Starbus also uses Edge Telematic Company to look after the actual bus and all that pertains to mechanical safety.
  • This allows for remote tracking at Regional Manager level at any given time and with every bus.

A Final Word on this Valentine’s Day

We were treated to some beautiful music during the Valentine’s day Assembly this morning. Our senior choir sang I Choose Love by Mark Millar. In addition, some of our Grade 5 boys did a brief dramatized movement to Beyonce’s song, I Was Here. The lyrics of the song are worth sharing both in the context of Valentine’s Day and our Now or Never – Making a Difference theme for the year.



With love and best wishes


Richard Stanley


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