Celebrating our Heritage
In my first two months at The Ridge School, I got to reflect on celebrating Women and our Heritage. I am not sure if there was an intention to have those follow each other but women are intricately linked with our heritage. Not only are they the ones responsible for our birth but our morality, sense of attachment and belonging is deep rooted in our relationship with them. While we explore the role of influential women in our lives and examine our Heritage, we will find clues about our past and how society has evolved. It is an opportunity to examine our history, traditions and be enabled to develop an awareness of ourselves. We can, therefore, get closer to understanding why we are the way we are.
This is especially important as schools are our social anchors and the people in it are the agents of change. Schools have experienced significant change in the last few months but on matters important, it is vital that we lead the change. The growth and change that the boys and we as staff experience may cause us to alter our views for a moment or sustain us in the future. When one considers, therefore, what we hold in the context of heritage, it is our duty, as a school, to develop the narrative from inclusion to belonging. In the event that you need belonging, you don’t converse with the people you know. You converse with those you don’t.
We are a country of 59 million people, 26 million eligible voters, over 100 000 species of plant and animal life, 287 municipalities, 11 official languages, 9 different provinces, and you – you have the power to make people belong.
As challenging and beautiful as this sounds, I must also remember that last week I lost a battle with a five-year-old about wearing nail polish and lipstick to school. Nevertheless, we must pick ourselves up and continue to try.
During the first few weeks of the term, I hosted a series of online meet and greet sessions with all parents to begin the partnership that is so essential. I also had the opportunity to have some face-to-face sessions which were tagged onto various information mornings. It was wonderful having the parents on the campus again and to meet many of you. I still have many parents to meet. The main talking points with the parents was to give further insight about my personal life, journey and experience in education and speak in depth about relationship building and authentic conversations.
I look forward to further engagements. Be on the lookout, therefore, for the plan regarding the release of podcasts and written newsletters. To that end, your voice is important and I would like to include it in process.
Engagements with staff
I am pleased with the growing authenticity and openness with the engagements with the staff. At the beginning of the term, we interacted in fun and engaging ways to solicit ideas about the following:
- Using the medium of short skits, we explored who the ideal Ridge boy is.
- Reworking the lyrics of our favourite songs to explain the aspects that we appreciate about working with each other.
- Each person spoke about the song that we would use as the theme song to a movie made about our lives. This developed our understanding about the people in the room.
- We also considered the idea if school was an invention as of today, what staffing structure we would construct for the effective leading of it.
- Then we wrote a gratitude chain – of all the people we would thank for us to be at this point in our lives. The realisation that so much of our success depends on the significant contribution of others, lead us to acknowledge the magnitude of the good in the world around us.
In recent weeks, the following topics were the basis for discussion:
- In considering the need to address forms of prejudice we spoke about the personal journey that we need to undergo, the interpersonal skills that need to be developed, and institutional and structural changes that need to be made.
- The emotional process of change.
- The cost of us meeting and the value of the outcomes to equate to that cost.
Management of COVID
COVID is not a new circumstance, and we commit ourselves to being creative and reimagine how things can be done. We are consulting with medical and legal experts to ensure that we are compliant and making good decisions for the well-being of the boys, parents and staff. We are also engaging with the regional rep of ISASA and their legal department for support in affecting policy making at the DBE level.
We are leveraging the change in regulations to have parents attend functions on site but in a safe manner. Most events are held outdoors, and all protocols remain in place. The intention is to reignite the sense of community.
In addition, to minimise the disruption to teaching and learning we will ensure effective track and tracing procedures so that only close contacts of a person who tests positive will need to isolate. In order to effectively implement this, we implore parents to allow us to use the identity of their son in the process.
Grades 3 – 7 camps
I am certain that you found great value in the information mornings regarding the logistics and preparation for the boys going on camp. The fact that for many boys this will be their first and for the others it has been a while, the anxiety and apprehension they and parents may feel is not lost on us. I wish to assure you of the following steps we have taken to support the staff and your boys:
- Every camp site had a pre-visit by a member of the executive team.
- We contacted the camp directors and got copies of their policies around safety, training of their staff and all protocols they have in place.
- We briefed them about the expectations we have about their interaction with The Ridge Boys.
- I will drive out on Thursday and spend the day with the Grades 5 and 6 boys.
- I will stay with the Grade 7s on Thursday night and spend Friday with them.
In addition, we are in the process of developing a positive mindset about camp culture. The following initiatives are underway:
- Mr Bezuidenhout, Mr Seakamela and Ms Fletcher are having sessions with the respective classes and Grades about standards of behaviour that we expect.
- Josh Ramsey will be flying up from Cape Town and facilitating conversations about positive behaviour, anti-bullying and pro-social skills amongst other topics. The boys will contribute to their set of camp rules – they will then have ownership over it. We will also talk about steps that the boys can take if anything untoward happens.
- Infographics about these will be put together and sent home. You are encouraged to go through it with your son before he departs for camp. The same infographics will be stuck up in their accommodation as a visual reminder of the commitment they made.
Watching of Sport
The frustration pertaining to the restriction on the watching of sport is massive. Essentially, the two gazettes, which are mandated by separate government departments do not talk to each other. We are working with ISASA in engaging with the DBE to look at ways to get the gazettes aligned and to change the restrictions imposed on schools – particularly those with the capacity to effectively manage the protocols associated with safety around COVID. In the meantime, please understand that we need to be legally complaint but we will continue to push hard in this regard.
Celebrations at National level
Our Grade 7s competed in the final Tour de Maths competition for the year. In total there were 30 020 questions attempted by 767 students – I think you get the sense of gravity of this competition. The boys from The Ridge performed exceptionally well and it is an absolute pleasure to give you the results of the completion:
TOP 3 PREPARATORY SCHOOLS FOR 2021
- The Ridge
- St Stithians Boys’ Prep
- St Stithians Girls’ Prep
TOP 3 PREPARATORY SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR 2021
- Soham-Zhy Ravjee (The Ridge School)
- Calvin Wagner (The Ridge School)
- Oliver Bouilliart (The Ridge School)
I congratulate the staff and the boys for this amazing accomplishment.
While the focus of the term is to finish of the year strong and ensure operational efficacy, plans are well under way to prepare for 2022 and beyond. The staff and the executive team are working on the following:
- Critically analysing various policies, particularly our anti-racial policy, anti-bullying policy and Code of Conduct.
- Interviews for the positions of Deputy Head – Innovative Learning Strategist and Head of Senior Primary.
- A communications strategy.
- A marketing strategy.