From the Headmaster’s Desk

I trust our families are well and that spring is being kind to all of you. The term commenced with great enthusiasm and a strong sense of unity, which has persisted through numerous successful events and cherished memories. We eagerly anticipate the upcoming events with excitement.

Daily observations of boys growing and learning, in joy-filled and depth-filled ways….

……all fill me with such hope about the quality and impact of The Ridge’s current and future trajectories.

They also fill me with gratitude for the Parent body alongside whom we work at our School. Parents’ support is felt in powerful and always appreciated ways, from helping to drive our designing of future, upgraded facilities plans to playing a central role in making our School attractive to prospective families (there is simply no doubt that our Grade 0 2024 classes are full because of parental support). Thank you to our parent body for respecting the Parent Attributes contained in our Attributes document (it makes for a happy and professional School, committed to being high on delivery).

I must also make mention of our Grade 7s who have taken their Headmaster’s Leadership project drives to significant levels. This morning, for example, two boys spoke through their projects involving the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital and a non profit that houses orphans. The Grade 7 boys are doing phenomenal work.

I hope you will find the 3 texts below interesting. They are worth having a look at:

  • The Private School sector plays a critical role in our society
  • Quality schools with a compelling message will continue to thrive
  • Private schools need to continue to be pioneers; the Independent and State schools need each other.
  • Heads giving notice during the first year of service; results in disruption that can take up to three years of hard work to repair.
  • The importance of remaining true to areas where your school excels vs being all things to all people/ all families.
  • The relationship between the Board Chairperson and Head of School is critically important for a school. 
  • The importance of establishing strong relationship patterns and trust.
  • Trends in independent education: growth is muted, even though new schools continue to be established.
  • Schools must start to create endowments.
  • Inclusion and duty of care for all children is the new emphasis.
  • 151 of the 247 South African municipalities are dysfunctional.
  • Local Government officials are not being kept accountable.
  • Very little delivery and lots of talking.
  • Gauteng schools should not just be offering Zulu and Afrikaans; Sotho should also be considered as an offering at schools.
  • High fee schools, more than anywhere else, have to work very hard to demonstrate their value, but more South Africans appear to trust in the private sector rather than their Government.
  • Looming teacher shortage:
  • 45% of Government employed teachers will retire in the next decade.
  • Only 49% of South African teachers regard teaching as their first choice career – this will result in attrition.
  • Some UK schools offering GBP20 000 to South African teachers.
  • Only 4% of South Africans finish a degree in six years after matric.
  • Finance, emigration and semi-gration.
  • 60% of ISASA members are seeing high attrition rates.  The Western Cape is lower than Gauteng and Eastern Cape.  The biggest growth is Mpumalanga.
  • High fee schools are dropping the most, low growing, mid fee declining a bit too.
  • All staff must be marketers of their schools.  Everyone is obliged to build a good, happy and professional work environment.
  • Retain and grow client base.
  • 19/30 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa.
  • The way to make a culture conducive for innovation = a warm culture (work hard and play hard).

Sustainability in Independent Schools

  • It’s a long game.
  • People buy into interesting big ideas

Sustainability at a school means:

  • A school still being here in a generation’s time.
  • Still being relevant to society.
  • Being in a better shape than it is now.  Get these three things right:
  • Get into grand strategic thinking.
  • Earn community engagement.
  • Build a fundraising capability (this is a long game)
  • Being great things take time – farmers who plant olive trees in Greece do it for their grandchildren (they only reach peak of production after 30 years). The trees can produce fruit for 100 years. The work you do now will make your successors look like legends.
  • Andover College in Essex County, Massachusetts, was founded in 1778, (Phillips Academy) is an independent, coeducational secondary school with an expansive worldview and a legacy of academic excellence.  50% of pupils get financial aid from huge endowment.
  • Individuals and corporates care most about big thinking and big ideas.
  • You need a series of statements like a 30 year estate plan which then becomes a mandate for an estate plan.  Become mandates for real work to be done.
  • Drive trust. FRIENDraisers and FUNDraisers. Be honest.
  • Latch requirements for money onto an incredible big idea.
  • Everything has to be championed from the top.
  • The colour of unemployment and poverty is black, the gender is female.
  • Massive threat to political stability and sustainable economic growth.
  • UNESCO 2022: The purpose of education is to shape peaceful, just and sustainable societies.
  • It is not humanly possible to be born in South Africa (where it was a crime to be a, b and c) and not to have prejudices that must be owned and dealt with.
  • Check yourself all the time.
  • You can’t inspire or motivate someone you don’t understand (your task as a teacher is to bring out the best in each child).
  • Diversity is not enough, inclusion is not enough, BELONGING is the GOAL.
  • Transformation is not about numbers.
  • Transforming education = accepting the learner for who they are; they want to belong as who they are.
  • The world you want to see, starts with you.
  • Gender based harm/ racist harm is not only in doing, but in doing nothing, (you are an accomplice.)
  • You can only make choices based on what you know.
  • Create RAC people – Respective / Adaptive / Contributive
  • When you are running a school, you are running/ creating an ecosystem.
  • Survival of independent prep schools is a challenge.
  • Plan for attrition.
  • Guard routines, rhythms and predictability more than ever.
  • In South Africa we lost 1.3 years of learning during Covid.
  • This brought devastating developmental impact to all children.
  • Problematic behaviour: what are you trying to tell me and what do you need from me?
  • Regulation  – Reading

Resilience  –  Riting

Relationships   –  Rithmatic

(All six R’s are critically important)

  • ‘Safety is not the absence of threat.  It is the presence of connection’.
  • South Africa has the highest rate of screen time of any country in the world.
  • Brain needs balance, rest, social time, cognitive challenge, play etc.
  • Brain has the capacity to change right throughout your life.
  • Whichever part of your brain you are using, you grow that part of your brain (compassion, flexibility, rigidity, complaining). 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day, 7 days a week, gives the brain more Neurons.
  • Praise for EFFORT rather than ability. (You put in a lot of effort there, you put a lot of thought into that..)
  • Success takes effort. Celebrate effort.
  • Soft skills are what will differentiate us in the future, machines will do the rest.

The below has been linked to the theme of “The Danger of a Single Story” inspired by Chimamanda Adichie

With best wishes to each of our families



Leave a Reply