The Headmaster’s Newsletter

Dear Parents

It took a while, what with the delayed in-person return to School for our boys and the two weeks of unexpected but most welcome rain, but I am now pleased to report that the SP clubs and extramural programme is truly up and running. Whilst clearly not back to the unfettered contact and all-action inter-school system yet, just to have the boys out on respective fields, in the nets and making good use of the tennis courts and swimming pools is a welcome reconnection with ‘the old order’. The boys are keen as mustard, the coaches are geared up and fully engaged, cricket on Saturday mornings is again a welcome sight, and there is the promise of lots more to come.

The reality, unfortunately, is that whilst the COVID virus continues to make its unpleasant presence felt and Level 3 restrictions remain the order of the day, we are compelled to be responsibly alert and committed to finding safe ways of bringing sport alive for our boys. A reminder that, with the most recent Government Gazette having been published just ten days ago, no interschool fixtures are allowed at this stage. Directors of Sport will be meeting today to consider the possible options going forward should current regulations remain in place. In addition, a reminder that no spectators/parents are permitted to support their sons at any sport activity within the school grounds at this time.

Please would parents pay close attention to information provided through the Sport and Extramural icons on The Ridge App. These are updated almost daily and give details that include times, venues, drop-off and pick-up arrangements, etc. For safety reasons, if, for example, the Lawley Road gates are only being opened as 07.45 on a Saturday morning, then please drop your son at that time and not at 07.00. He will end up having to wait at the gate for 45 minutes until a coach arrives. As with early morning drop-off on a given school day, each coach is responsible for doing the required temperature checks before the boys are allowed onto the fields for such activities.

On the SP Clubs front, I am delighted to report that the boys are embracing and making the most of their chosen club or activity. With a good few clubs offering something new and invitingly different, we are finding a happy level of excitement amongst many lads and members of staff to see what Debating, Photography, Coding, Drama, Chess, and General Knowledge will be offering up. All-in-all, we have eight clubs for boys in Grades 5 – 7 to tap into between 13.45 and 15.00 each afternoon, Monday through Thursday. With many music boys committing to at least one afternoon of choir or orchestra, they are still able to enjoy club activities on one of the other days.     

My sincere thanks to Bennie du Preez for the fine work done in planning, coordinating and managing all aspects of the SP sport and club activity programmes. In addition, to the many members of our teaching staff who are involved in hosting and coaching boys as they attend a club or join their sports teams during the course of each week.

A Covid-19 Update comment:

We are maintaining a close vigil on the many compliance features that, as a school, we are responsible for keeping tight in the interests of the health and safety of all boys and members of staff. Teachers are aware of and are staying in touch with the health of their boys and are following up on those lads who might leave school early due to not feeling well or who have stayed at home for a similar reason. The same degree of concern is being focused on looking after all members of staff as well.

Thank you to most parents who have heard the call and are administering the necessary QR code screening process on your sons before they head off for school each morning. I would ask again, please, that if parents do find that your son is off-colour and so not his normal self on a given morning that you don’t take a chance and send him through to school. We had an unusually high number of SP boys reporting in sick during given mornings last week. All were sent home, contact was made with their parents and most went through for a Covid-19 test and all reporting a negative test result. My sense is that for most of these boys, if the screening had been done more thoroughly on the morning in question, as it applies to each lad, then they wouldn’t have come in to school.

Afternoon Lunches:

The re-introduction of lunches for the Grade 3 – 7 boys and staff has been running for the past two weeks. As most parents will know, this has come in the form of an outsourced packed lunch prepared each day by the company By Word of Mouth. I am pleased to say that a range of nutritious and most appetising lunches have been well received by boys and staff alike. It is good too, to be able to confirm that this pre-packed, take-out lunch system will continue for the rest of the year for the boys whose parents are happy to pay the R3500/term.

Strategic Planning Review and Action Follow-up:

As mentioned in a previous newsletter, an action response to the Strategic Review conducted by the Board of Governors last year is now being drafted. The Exco team has been working on a first draft that will be shared with the Board at the first Board Meeting of the year on the 2nd March. Further work to identify the prioritised key imperatives and related action measures will be done prior to bringing parents up to speed with what the key imperatives identified encompass and what the related developmental and /or improvement action will be in the weeks and months ahead.

It needs to be said that some important measures have been adopted by the School’s Exco team in order to remedy and improve on certain prioritised areas that were in obvious need of attention. These will be spelt out in due course but for now I am able to say that some of this work includes the professional well-being of staff, areas of extracurricular delivery and decisions in the area of academic support.

Live calendar:

Joe Kotwal, our Director of Marketing, has re-introduced our Live Calendar on The Ridge App. It can be found under the School Calendars icon. Whilst much that would normally be in place to provide dates and times of upcoming events are sadly lacking because such events are currently in short supply, we have felt the need to re-activate this live calendar feature. At this time, I would draw your attention to the arrangements on break-up day at the end of this week:

The staggered pick-up times and venues are as follows:

All younger siblings to wait for older brothers at Grade 2 Jungle Gym, and both will need to be collected from Lawley Road. There will also be no Grade 0-3 aftercare on Thursday 25th February

I would also like to draw parents’ attention to a change to break-up day at the end of this 1st Term. We were scheduled to break up on Wednesday 31st March. These dates came through from SAHISA in September last year following enforced changes to accommodate the Easter Weekend and the planned senior schools’ rugby festivals. These festivals have been cancelled or postponed due to health and safety concerns. As such, there is no reason not to close a day later, on Thursday 1st April. This allows us to make good on the promise to endeavour to make up on days missed at the beginning of this term.

We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate boys whose parents had already booked to go away on holiday on that Thursday. Otherwise, for the rest of us, please make a diary entry that the 1st Term ends on Thursday, 1st April … please note that this is not an April-Fool’s joke 🙂

Lost Property:

Bridget Gerber and Di Wellard have been hard at work sorting out a proverbial mountain of lost property that has been growing since the third term of last year.

In my view this remains an area of real concern for a number of reasons:
  • A lack of respect for the safe-keeping of their own property amongst many of our SP Ridge boys;
  • A carelessness and seeming lack of responsibility to look after what is theirs and then to come to the lost property area to find the item if it has gone missing;
  • In too many cases, it’s becoming too easy for a boy, having lost something to have it replaced at some cost to his parents;
  • There are far too many items of clothing that are not marked with the boy’s name;
  • Parents, in some instances, not holding their sons accountable in ways that he will feel and so that will teach him to take better care of his belongings.    

Bridget and Di, together with a few other PA mums, are determined to sort this out. More information will be forthcoming in the days ahead that will serve to guide boys and parents and that will give the necessary prompts as we try to get on top of this unacceptable state of affairs.

Please would parents work at getting a strong message across to their lads that whatever they bring to school needs to return home. Teachers and coaches will do what they can to remind the boys, but essentially, by the time a boy turns ten, he ought to be seen as being old enough to look after and be accountable for his own belongings.

Final Word:   A Partnership of Hope:

Most parents will remember that The Ridge, in partnership with the Teachers Learning Centre, has been hosting Early Childhood Development teacher training course here at The Ridge since March of 2019. The vision being to provide ECD training to and upskilling young caregivers and teachers who are already involved in some form or another in looking after and giving daily care to little children in some of the more impoverished areas of our community. The courses being run are all officially sanctioned and recognised by the DBE. Once successfully completed, teachers will receive an NQF (National Qualifications Framework) Level 4 certificate qualification. Each eighteen-month course is attended by twenty carefully selected trainee teachers who each pay a certain amount towards their training.

Needless to say, in order to pay for the lecturers and the course-specific resources, money has needed to be found to bring this initiative alive. We have been blessed to have had two of our Ridge mums working tirelessly behind the scenes to find donors from within big corporates who would be prepared to offer financial underpinning to the Partnership of Hope programme. Such has been the very generous donor support, we have had one full eighteen-month course successfully completed, are midway through a second such Level 4 Course, and have enough in the fund to look forward to facilitating a Level 5 Diploma Course later this year.

I invite any parents who believes that they could find the time to offer to this very worthwhile PoH initiative to contact me in the interests, in particular, of becoming part of the fund-raising team. For every one teacher who successfully graduates with a Partnership of Hope qualification, a whole community of children will be given the love, care, tuition and support, and so much more that will offer each of them some hope of better schooling prospects in the future.

In closing, I wish you all and your children a blessed, safe and happy family-focused Half-term weekend.

Warm regards


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