‘Headless’ school to get new direction

2016-01-28 06:00

THE ‘headless’ high school in Jeffreys Bay is set to appoint a qualified management team by the end of January - two months after its principal went on sick leave suddenly.

A lack of textbooks might also soon be something of the past.

This prompt action follows after a Portfolio Committee for Education from the Provincial Government in Bisho visited the Jeffreys Bay High School - the only governmental high school in town - last week in an effort to solve the myriad of problems facing the school.

During the meeting attended by Kouga Mayor Daphne Kettledas, DA Parliamenta- rian for Kouga Elza van Lingen and councillors Brenton Williams and Timothy Meleni, the Department of Education resolved to appoint a management structure at the school, which currently only has an acting principal, but no heads of departments. Principal Craig Nicholson was placed on mandatory sick leave only 20 days after taking over the reigns as principal at the school.

The department furthermore undertook that sufficient textbooks will be delivered by mid-February. Currently there are no textbooks for Gr 10 learners, and no English textbooks for Grades 8 and 9.

However, the department could not commit to a timeline as to when Nicholson will resume his duties as principal or whether an interim principal would be appointed.

No clarity could be obtained as to when Phase Two - including workshops, more classrooms and hostels - would be built. According to Van Lingen, there is no budget to construct Phase Two in this or the next financial year.

Other problems include insufficient space to cater for the high demand of learners wanting to enrol, a lack of teachers, over-crowed classrooms and a lack of planning.

Despite all of these problems, the Kouga Municipality is confident that the school is functioning well.

“The problems experienced by the Jeffreys Bay High School have already been escalated to the highest level in the province,” says municipal spokesperson Laura-Leigh Randall.

“According to the Executive Mayor, she expected the worst, following reports that the school was in ‘turmoil’”.

However, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that the reports were “exaggerations” – the school appears to be functioning well.

While it is true that there have been delays in the filling of certain of the posts, as well as in the delivery of some textbooks and statio- nery, the Department of Education was clearly aware of the delays. They are proactively ta-king action to ensure that outstanding matters would be addressed by the end of January.”

According to Randall, it is still a new school and some teething problems can be expected.

“The Mayor was especially impressed and grateful to see the diversity of the learners. She was further impressed that key staff, such as the acting principal, are fully trilingual to support the diverse nature of the school’s pupils,” says Randall.

“The situation at the school will be monitored at the highest level to ensure that the outstanding matters are dealt with as has been promised.”

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