The Headmaster’s Newsletter

Dear Parents

The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words rings true in so many instances within a school context and no more so than when recording and celebrating events and happenings that will serve as precious historical moments to be remembered and cherished.

Our Ridge School 2019 Centenary Magazine is one such example of how photographs and graphics can bring to life, all over again, the celebration, joy and happiness associated with our momentous 100 Year celebrations. The magazine is now ready for distribution, both in hardcopy and in the electronic version. We look forward to sending this on to you all. Your boys will receive their hard copy version on their return to school. Grade 7 boys will receive theirs this coming week. Click on the link below to view the 2019 Centenary Magazine electronically:

Grade 7 Boys Return:

As you all know, last week saw the welcome return of our senior lads following ten weeks away. The following photographs give a brief snapshot of some of what they had to adjust to but that they were also able to enjoy together during their first three days back.

Grade 0 – 6 returning:

We anticipate that we will receive a favourable acceptance from the Gauteng Education Department within the next few days for us to deviate from their regulated return dates. This being the case, parents will be notified immediately of the scheduled rotational re-entry plans that we look forward to being able to roll out as soon as possible.

Health and Safety Inspection:

On Thursday last week, the local Health and Safety Inspector paid us a visit here at The Ridge. We were delighted to welcome her and to take her through the many facets and features of our Health and Safety Compliance Plan, Prevention Protocols and Implementation Strategies.


Following a rigorous inspection, she took her leave of us, very satisfied that every area of compliance has been well planned for, carefully thought through, and purposefully implemented. Our Covid-19 Certificate of Health and Safety Compliance is, she said, in the post. We are, of course, acutely conscious that the real examination will take place when the rest of our boys return.

Safety First

Having read the comprehensive Health and Safety Compliance Plan and Preventions Protocol, parents will be aware that we are determined not to take any shortcuts as we arc-safety-first-1-810x540set about bringing your boys back into a prioritized ‘safety first’ environment. As we endeavour to improve and add safeguards that are reachable and reasonable, we will continue to add to or amend, where applicable, the Compliance Plan and Protocol document. In this regard, please note the following amendments:

  • A new section, 5.1.11, has been added to deal with concerns regarding gloves and the dangers that they can pose in so far as the cleaning staff are concerned. Related amendments have been made to section 5.1.10 and section 6 regarding the safe use of gloves;
  • In Annexure “G” a new question has been added to the screening questions;
  • Sections 10.1.4 and 10.2.2 have been amended to delete reference to section 3.2 that is no longer application;
  • Section 7.3.3 has been amended in order introduce the safeguard that boys must not face each other in any form of breaktime activity. The section makes it clear that physical distancing protocols must still be observed.

Isolation facilities:

For parents’ information, we have four isolation rooms that have been set up to look after boys (and members of staff, should it be necessary) when they fall ill. The rooms have been thoroughly sanitized and will be cleaned each day whether they have been used or not.


A deep disinfecting will take place following any illness-related usage. These facilities will remain strictly out of bound for any other activity during the course of a given day.

Travel Permits:

Parents would have received the Travel Permit template that you will require in order to transport your son to and from school each day. The permits have been prepared at school with the necessary School stamp and my signature so it is left up to you to complete the forms and then keep them handy in the vehicles used for school transport.

Certificate for Learners Attending School:

This is a recent development. This special stand-alone certificate, which has been sent to you for filling out, must again be kept handy whilst en route to school or when travelling home each afternoon.

Parent Forums:

We have enjoyed a number these online connecting sessions in the last few months. Certainly, for those hosting these from School, an important opportunity to listen, respond and reach out. We will be hosting more of these in the weeks ahead.

Long Weekend … 13th – 16th June:

With Youth Day falling on Tuesday 16th June it has been decided, in conjunction with St Katherine’s and APPS, to stick with the original long weekend as planned.

Term Calendars:

There is still no word from SAHISA regarding the changes that might be made to the school holidays in the months ahead. We will keep parents abreast of any decisions that will be forthcoming. A reminder that, for many obvious reasons, it is expected that regional schools cooperate on these matters and so stay in sync with each other as we work with SAHISA to fine-tune and accommodate any changes that might be necessary.

‘Let’s never again suggest tech could replace teachers’

Society must never forget one key lesson from this crisis – teachers really are indispensable, writes Priya Lakhani.                                                                                                        22 April 2020

As the founder of a company that develops artificial intelligence (AI) learning technologies, for years I have been plagued by accusations of developing secret robots designed to replace teachers.

No serious-minded person, whether politician, educator, technologist, student or parent, actually desires the robotisation of our teaching workforce. But despite this, some commentators are seemingly convinced of the existence of secret underground laboratories in which Miss R2-D2 and Mr WALL-E, with elbow-patched tweed blazers covering their wiring, are being perfected for the upcoming takeover of our classrooms.


In fact, from my conversations with those who actually run schools, it seems that the only advanced automated devices that they want are better coffee machines for the staffroom.

If we had wanted to, the closure of schools would have been the perfect time to unleash our secret stash of iTeachers on the unsuspecting nation. Squadrons of AT-AT Walkers would currently be roaming from home to home shooting knowledge beams and skills rockets into learners’ brains. There’s no need to keep socially distant from a robot, so one-to-one teaching could be taking place in every home in the world.

Thankfully, schools and families across the world decided to instead use technology to enhance and extend what little human interaction could take place, not replace it. We are now using technology to improve as much as possible the human relationships between teachers and their students.

It is too soon to tell the results of this great experiment, but we should be thankful that the disruption occurred now and not at a time when the extent of education technology was a dodgy interactive whiteboard. From AI learning platforms to video calling, technology has kept learning – and, vitally, a human-centred model of learning – flowing through unprecedented turmoil. Teachers have been able to learn which tools can aid their teaching, especially with many companies offering their tools for free. But, fundamentally, technology must now be seen as what it was always designed to be: an aid, not a replacement.

While tech has stepped up to the plate, let this be the end of the teacher replacement debate. The world’s home-schooling experiment should mean that the debate about whether AI will replace teachers will stop. Millions of families have now realised first-hand how teaching is more than transferring the contents of a textbook to a child.

Prior to this crisis, far too many parents thought that because they went to school they knew how to teach. We’re all guilty of this. It isn’t confined to education, either; thanks to Google and panic-inducing symptom checkers, GPs frequently deal with patients convinced of having complex ailments without ever having read a medical textbook.

Thanks to a few YouTube videos on how to replace a broken toilet flush valve, I now stand with folded arms carefully observing the work of any skilled tradesmen called on for help, to their assumed annoyance. But with many of us having been forced to become teachers overnight, any doubters surely must agree that teaching is a profession to be revered.

To be entirely fair, many of us parents have performed quite a remarkable transformation from Mummy to Miss. Mums and dads everywhere ripped off their Clark Kent spectacles to become teaching superheroes overnight. Aided by technology, textbooks and the brilliant Joe Wicks, parents have risen to the challenge of keeping their young ones both happy and learning. But with this has come an unprecedented appreciation for the role teachers play.

Let us never again suggest that technology could replace teachers. Instead, let us value the role that good, proven technology can play in augmenting the vital human relationships that learning and human flourishing depend on. Some campaigners are calling for NHS staff to be awarded a collective George Cross for their heroic efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. Such formal recognition will likely evade teachers, but once we get through these difficult times, let’s never forget what we all learned about how indispensable our teachers are.

Priya Lakhani OBE is founder and CEO of Century Tech and sits on the government’s AI Council

A Final Word:

We have been reminded in recent days that whilst humanity has been forced into a place of togetherness in order to do battle against Covid-19, there persists much within the make-up of our societies that continues to foster deep divisions and that remains painfully unresolved. The ugly scourges of institutionalised racism, cultural bigotry and religious intolerance continue to haunt so many aspects of our 21st Century lives.

As an independent boys’ primary school that holds dear the people-centred, Christian values that are entrenched within our mission statement, we are more committed than ever of finding meaningful ways to generate and encourage the virtues of love, respect, acceptance and trust. As we do so, to work side-by-side as we seek ways of bringing cultural, racial and religious harmony that will serve to embrace every person’s uniqueness and that are sincerely felt by all. A place of learning for life where every boy, member of staff and parent feels warmly accepted, firmly held and where they know that they belong.

I wish you all health, happiness and many heart-felt moments to cherish as the upcoming long-weekend comes into view.

Warm regards


Richard Stanley


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