Good Shepherd Primary School Principal’s Report to Good Shepherd Trust

28 May 2019

The Good Shepherd Trust quarterly report provides an overview for the first five months of the year.

With the schools that have reopened early in January and the office which opened on the 4th of January it was a tough first term.  For the first time ever the summer holidays were only three weeks short and the minimum time of rest had a negative influence towards the end of the term on both learners and educators.  We have started the new year with a total number of 312 learners, an increase of 14 learners from 2018.  This means that our classes are jam packed and that we have only issued Gr. R applications for 2020.  One would ask why Good Shepherd is such a no-fee school in demand.  The answer is simple, we are a functional no-fee school with quality infra-structure in a safe environment.  To be punctual when it comes to the siren, we have recently installed an automatic device to our siren. This helps a lot for smooth siren ringing.  We are surrounded by volunteers and the Good Shepherd Trust play a sustainable and valuable educational roll in the entire Good Shepherd Family.

During our strategic planning session in December 2018, the staff made some decisions to take the school forward.  I am proud to announced that we have a constructive year plan with specific dates for meetings, activities, etc.  On a regular basis, we will have School Management Team meetings and after that a follow up with staff meetings.  We work hand in hand with the School Governing Body and also are a proud member of the Governing Body Foundation.  Some SMT and SGB members will attend a Governing Body Foundation seminar soon on “Learner Disciplinary Processes – the Dos and Don’ts”.

We held two parent meetings for the year and, at the last meeting, our school hall was too small to host everybody –  almost 110 parents attended the meeting.  This shows me that there is interest from our parents side and they want to be part of the bigger Good Shepherd picture.

The process to appoint a new HOD for the school is completed and the sifting and interviews went well.  We hope that the new HOD can start at the beginning of the third term.  Mrs. Susan Green is on maternity leave and little Zoë was born earlier than expected.  Mrs. Tammy Booysen was appointed.  We are blessed with quality Rhodes University students in our classes and Mr. Goliath (Foundation Phase) is one of the best student teachers I have ever met.  This is the caliber educator that one must earmark for the future.

The core business of any educational institute is teaching and learning.  Our dedicated and professional staff try their best to make a difference in class and are well prepared.  We provided, from the second term, more extra classes in the afternoons.   Our Departmental Circuit Manager, Mrs. Xalabile, is satisfied with our first term academic schedules and we have received a token of thanks from her office for always being the first to submit documents.  The library is well managed by Ms. June Venn and her volunteers.   The Rotary Club of Uttoxeter promised to send a shipment of books to us.  We are also very grateful for the Gr. R educational toys from Rotary and also for our new school flag, another donation from the Grahamstown Rotary Club.  Mrs. Chanelle Wolf offered her services and restrung all our frames to the same height.  Our thanks to Mrs. Suzanne Sievwright for counselling sessions with some of our learners, this is helping tremendously.  Her passion and dedication is highly appreciated.

We received a visit from Ben Pauluin, one of the shareholders from Sifunda Kunye.  Ben came all the way from the USA to inspect the seven computer labs in the Eastern Cape.  He was impressed with the functionality of our computer lab and also donated R5 000 to remove the white plastic conduit from our historical wall at the main building.  Jolande and Zander are visiting us regularly and they are satisfied with the work that our assistant, Samantha Voight, is doing in the lab.

For the first time in many years, our learners took part in the Grahamstown Zonal athletics meeting and some athletes excelled and even took part in the next round of the Albany athletics meeting.  A highlight in our sport program was our participation in the P.J. Olivier/Frans Erasmus u/13 rugby and netball tournament.  It was an extremely wet weekend, but our players showed courage on the sport fields and enjoyed it thoroughly.  Some of our learners also took part in the St. Andrews Outreach Programme and took part in Basketball.  Other learners went to extra homework and reading classes.  As part of the Freedom Day celebrations our Gr. R class also took part in a successful sports day that was held on the Oval Sport grounds in Albany Road.  Our secretary, Ms. Galada, also attended a Level 3 first aid course through St. John’s.  It is important for our school that the secretary knows what to do in emergency situations and to help children who might get injured.

Our connection with the Diocese from the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George is very special to our school.  In particular, I want to highlight our relationship with Rev. Claire.  The opening of the academic year, Ash Wednesday and all the assemblies every Wednesday are a few examples.  We are looking forward to Rev. Claire to come and tell us more about the religion background of Ascension Day on 30 May.  We also have received a Catholic Schools’ Office visit from Mrs. Daka regarding the RE classes.  Mrs. Daka was also the facilitator in our school hall when she presented a workshop on Child Safeguarding.  Some of our educators and SGB members attended the workshop.

During the second term our Foundation Phase presented a Grandparents Day.  Almost sixty grandparents attended the concert and afterwards they all enjoy refreshments and were photographed with their grand


We also held our first bazaar on Friday 3 May in many years and the support of the community was overwhelming.  We have also learnt that the businesses are loyal to our school and they have donated

quite a lot of ingredients, etc.  After a long day, and much organising, we raised just more than R25 000.  This money will be used to buy educational equipment.

The water tanks supply was connected to the main water line and a leaf trapper was also installed.  As we are still in a water crisis, the school can now stay open even if we do not have any municipal water.  The netball court and three hopscotch areas were painted and a new fluid light was installed next to the netball court.  A new bell/intercom system was also installed at the main gate.  The playground equipment is next to be repaired and varnished.  The two prefab classes had new LED fluorescent lights which make a big difference. The Trust donated another two data-projectors and our classes are well equipped with wi-fi, etc.  The Trust also installed some roll down blinds in the school hall, this will help for more privacy when the councillors are busy with learners.

There will always be challenges in a school environment.  Sporting fields, coaches and transport stay some of the main challenges.  At the end of the day, we are still blessed with so many positive things at our school.  Our educational programme is sustainable and our learners get quality education, the most important aspects of a school.

Since my appointment 9 months ago, I felt that we can do more about Huntley Street.  After a meeting with both the principals of VP and VG we have decided to make Huntley Street more colourful.  Details to follow soon.  We tried our best during the past few months to feature in the Media.  My thanks to the Grocott’s Mail and Talk of the Town for their loyalty.  From next term we will also send our school news to The Herald and Die Burger.

We recently had an inspection from the Provincial Audit Panel.  Prof Antrobus explain the role and support of the Trust and I could see that our Circuit Manager and the Panel appreciate the wonderful work that the Trust is doing for our school.  A full report of the audit team will be send to the Trust.

I don’t want people to see Good Shepherd Primary School as just another no-fee school.  We must be active in the community and be part of the bigger solution.   I do believe to be involved and try my best to be present wherever I can.  I motivate my educators to attend meetings and to be part of the broader Grahamstown community.  I believe that a good educator is a good reader and therefore one must always stay a student.  In future, we must consider sending our educators to symposiums even if we had to pay towards a quality workshop.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring severe changes to the methodology of teaching and we must strive to be the first no-fee school to keep track of changing tides.

As a proud principal I want to thank all stakeholders for their efforts to make our Good Shepherd School the best no-fee school in our country.  I want to thank Prof. Antrobus and Mrs. Meiklejohn for their regular visits to the school and our almost daily communication.