MESSAGE FROM THE PREPARATORY PRINCIPAL
To our Prep School family,
At the close of 2017, we reflect on another fun-filled, productive and very exciting year that has been well spent at Summerhill Preparatory School. Enjoy the pages ahead! The annual school magazine is a proud culmination of the year’s experiences at Summerhill and it highlights the magic that is the very fabric of our school.
Undoubtedly, the times that the school finds itself in are quite competitive with schools mushrooming, as we speak, on our very borders. Parents may feel torn when faced with what appears to be new and improved creations from the big, corporate-run conglomerates. Such establishments speak to the vulnerabilities and fears that we, as parents, experience as we strive to do what is best for our children. Name-dropping; attention-grabbing catch phrases, teacher and student headhunting have all become the order of the day.
So what makes Summerhill so uniquely different? Why stick with our recipe when the attractions of shiny new buildings and slightly cheaper school fees are just on our doorstep? The answer is simple.
Summerhill School has been in existence (in one form or another) for twenty six years – more than a quarter of a century. As a parent, you may not fully understand the importance of this. Brand new schools seem to literally be popping up overnight in strategic places and then spend a considerable amount of time trying to find their feet. Their first biggest challenge before actual teaching is establishing the management team and attempting to gel as a newly formed team in the quickest time possible (this also includes schools with the backing of an established brand). Summerhill has all this in place and is in the fortunate position of simply tweaking and improving on a system that has been proven excellent over the years. This enables the students to benefit from solid stability enabling them to flourish from the minute they walk through the door.
Cheap school fees are – exactly that. You always simply get what you pay for. The ways in which the majority of the schools falling into this bracket manage on cheap fees is to occupy small tracts of land, often without a blade of grass to be seen and with absolutely no chance of team collaboration (either academic or in the sporting world) as there are just not enough student numbers to allow this. Skills for the 21st century speak about – collaboration; team work and critical thinking and these are skills that we “tweak” and encourage at Summerhill. These slightly cheaper priced schools then often resort to collaborating with better equipped and more professional schools such as Summerhill, which have great sporting infrastructures with large well-kept grounds, to give their students the opportunities that our own students already experience as part of our everyday lives at Summerhill.
Summerhill is unique in that it offers our students two curricula – a local based curriculum (IEB) and an international experience (CIE – Cambridge). You will see, if you are watching the “big guns” who are swallowing up independently run schools at a fast rate – that they have at very last cottoned on to the advantage of offering the Cambridge curriculum, and are rushing to add this to their own artillery. Unlike this flurry of late contenders we see with offerings of this superb world-class education, Summerhill College led by Mrs Chetty and her qualified and dedicated team, already have a decade of experience and training. Being way ahead in this game thus makes for students that are relaxed, confident and prepared in light of this. When we are visited by independent assessors of our exam procedures and operations and we receive the highest validation and accolades for just how finely tuned and well run we are, making Summerhill a popular an exam centre for surrounding schools who have yet to achieve the same status and ranking as us. Therefore, students come from far and wide to join us.
Summerhill is also unique in that we offer a holistic experience in the true sense of the word. The fact is, our academics stand proud and tall and we solidly hold our own against surrounding schools. We offer an unusual environment that is to be envied in that our school literally stands on, what is considered, an oasis in the concrete jungle of Midrand. We are able to expose our students to the wonderful advantages of this. Students love to go on field trips to our back garden in which they explore the wetlands; walk through our cross-country track that is shaded by trees and plants. We are able to enjoy lessons outside of the classrooms in nature and experience the geese swimming in the pool; celebrate with the latest addition to our duck family; protect our Kiewit’s who insist on returning to the same nesting place (in the middle of our senior Quad and under the library) to bring their young into the world. We offer a relaxed, nature-infused atmosphere and yet there is room for expansion because of the size of our property. We have extended our main field this year and there are plans for on-going development of more facilities on our luscious, expansive grounds. Combined with this and our nurturing ethos, our students are acutely aware of their responsibility to the environment. Summerhill, against fierce competition from schools in our area, has collected in excess of 14 tonnes of paper for the Mpact recycling competition this year alone and in so doing, has won the Mpact Recycling Award for the third year running.
Beyond our natural beauty, Summerhill is one-of-a-kind in that we have our very own “Living Classroom”. This is an outdoor classroom filled with all kinds of miraculously exciting experiences for our students – seedlings, a worm farm, chickens and a wonderful space to appreciate and value nature. Because of our achievements in this very important aspect of our school life, we are also WESSA accredited.
Our dedicated, professional and highly qualified teaching staff are all SACE registered and Summerhill is a member of the ISASA, IEB and CIE. We are proudly affiliates of ADHASA. Yes, we tick all the boxes regarding our high standard of qualifications that our proud reputation is based on.
Geared at ensuring a rich and diverse school experience for your child, we have a plethora of programmes and initiatives that we have had under our belt for a number of years. These programmes are established and run beautifully – no last minute stresses on our parents or panicked planning. Programmes such as – the national Eisteddfod; the national Conquesta challenge; SACCE essay writing competition; Battle of the Books; The President’s Award and the Junior Mini Council programme – to name just a few that we excel in.
At Summerhill, we believe that it is important to build both foundations and skills for learning and skills for life. Foundations and skills fall into two categories: dispositions and competencies. Dispositions refers to the personal, moral, social and emotional dimensions of our students. We believe that should we nurture, develop and encourage these aspects enabling our students to become ethical, reflective and empathetic citizens who have the ability to impact and transform the world around them. Competencies refers to the academic rigors of school life: literacy; numeracy and life skills such as: drama, music, Phys Ed and technical skills. At the Preparatory school – we focus on developing both the foundations and the skills of our students so that they are ultimately successful and flourish in high school and the college.
Our achievements at the Preparatory school (as seen in this magazine) are as a result of the huge commitment our management team; teachers, admin and support staff have towards Summerhill. We thank them all. We are also grateful to our PTA; some of whom spend countless hours assisting at school functions or as class reps.
The Summerhill School family is a team of students, staff, teachers and parents who have created a uniqueness and magic that can be found nowhere else. Be assured that you have chosen the perfect environment for your child.