|Dear SCS Community
This whole school newsletter serves to bring you up to speed with some of the more pressing issues that we have been working on this year.
1. TRANSFORMATION AND DIVERSITY
The school has appointed professionals in the field of transformation as an important next step to help us effectively establish and formalize our transformation strategy, goals and measures of progress. Having made a strong internal start ourselves, with a great deal of extremely positive ground work having been done by the dedicated committee that had evolved in this space, and a Council mandate to formalise the Transformation Sub-Committee, the direction and proposed route forward has become clearer. Research into people and organisations that have transformation experience in the educational space has brought us to appoint Theresa Edlmann and her colleagues.
Theresa Edlmann is a psychologist who has done a great deal of work on transformation in the South African context. She was a member of the historic Truth and Reconciliation Committee and has worked with schools like DSG and St Andrew’s College (Grahamstown), as well as St John’s College in Johannesburg helping them navigate their journeys of transformation in the context of privilege. She was also brought in to advise and mediate in the “#Must Fall Movements” at UCT and Rhodes University. Her preferred way of working is to start with a consultative process to help inform and direct the way forward. Her team comprises two women who have also worked in the transformation space and with schools. They are:
Tumi Jonas: Tumi has just submitted her Psychology Master’s Thesis entitled “This Dialogue Thing: An Analysis of Black and White Women Living in SA Engaged in Sustained Dialogue on Race and Race Relations.” Her experience has been in creating opportunities for dialogue where everybody taking part feels they are on an equal platform.
Lane Benjamin: Lane grew up in the apartheid era in Mitchell’s Plain and attended a predominantly “whites only school” at the time. Born to service-minded parents, Lane used her opportunities and experiences to make a difference in the community she grew up in, initiating a number of community service programmes, including setting up a Sunday School class in Khayelitsha and tutoring and running study groups for the school pupils in the community. She also established Art Classes with donated supplies for about 120 students. Thereafter, she pursued a Masters’ Degree in Psychology with the aim of helping individuals otherwise unable to afford the services of a psychologist. She has worked as a psychologist at the Trauma Centre in Cape Town and for the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
School Management Processes
The parallel school process is to provide the feedback from our first “Critical Conversations” Workshop facilitated by Mhlatse Mashua. It has taken a while to organize the input from that evening within overarching common themes and potential actions.
The link to the feedback is below: it has been through a number of distillations and iterations and has been subject to ongoing discussion and feedback at management level – and so I hope that you feel it does capture the essence of what was discussed at tables that evening. It is a start!
Link to Critical Conversations feedback
Critical Conversations 2: An Invitation to “Be Woke”
The forum for this term will take place on 13 November (next Tuesday evening) in the Chapel, starting at 18:00 with the expected finish time being 19:15. The invitation will follow.
Challenging Bias: Understanding the “#Must Fall” Movements
Dan Corder, the youngest breakfast radio (Good Hope FM) host in the country, co-host of BBC World Services’ #Rhodesmustfall broadcast coverage, commentator on #feesmustfall, creator of ‘Luister’, which revealed racism and problematic language policies at Stellenbosch University, is an engaging, energetic and optimistic young South African. Son of Hugh Corder, an eminent constitutional law expert and co-author of South Africa’s Bill of Rights, Dan recently visited our High School students during “Woke Week.” He engaged, pricked, prompted and encouraged our girls on a range of issues - from white privilege, to battling bias, to the importance and responsibility of student voice. He spoke to the fact that higher education offers young people the opportunity to contextualise history and traditions through listening and talking to people from backgrounds vastly different to their own. Dan’s appeal was so wide-reaching and his effect on our students was wonderful to see in the ignition of the Soap Box discussion that followed his talk.
We’ve asked Dan to share his story with you, our parents. It is so important to hear the young voices in our country as they are integral in shaping perspectives and shifting paradigms. For those High School parents whose daughters are rapidly moving towards tertiary education – the next horizon – it will be especially valuable to get some insight into what has happened and what is still happening on our campuses.
2. SCS150: DEVELOPMENT LEVY
Thank you for your understanding and support of the Development Levy that will be added to your school fees from next year. Reluctant as Council was to add any further financial burden to parents, the implementation of the levy was required as the key to unlock the delivery of the lion’s share of the proposed development envisioned for SCS150 by 2021.
The unfortunate, forced delays have really implicated on the affordability, the timing and the scope and scale of the delivery. If we are to be able to achieve at least the astro-turf field (scaled down version), the campus thru-road (which unlocks permissions for further development on the campus), and the swimming pool (with a chance of the Indoor Sport Centre on top of it), we need more money than we have been able to access commercially and through fund-raising.
Development Progress: Frustratingly, we are still in the City Council application approval process for the majority of the SCS150 vision. The good news is that although slow, we have made progress – the Orange Street Field application is scheduled to come before the Mayoral Appeals Committee within the foreseeable future. Following the approval of the main campus site development plan, the drawings for the thru-road have been submitted to Council, and the plans for the indoor swimming pool and indoor sports centre are currently being finessed, prior to submission. If everything comes through, next year will be the year of change and building – a hugely exciting prospect for all of us who have had no option but to remain patient and optimistic.
3. CAMPUS SECURITY
We are constantly aware of security on our campus and acknowledge that the times that are especially challenging to control are the peak drop-off and pick-up times. We have engaged with our security providers to do an audit of staff and processes that will improve the general levels of security at the school. We have already tightened up on the processes for admission of people on foot wanting to enter the school, and on traffic management vs security oversight processes. In addition, we have had identifying SCS Decals printed to be put on car windshields so that the guards can ascertain at a glance whether a vehicle entering the premises belongs to a SCS family or not. We will be distributing these shortly and respectfully request your cooperation in ensuring that these are affixed to your windscreens. Two decals will be given to the “eldest and only” children at the school. Should additional decals be needed, these can be sourced from the front-of-house secretaries. In addition, the school management is looking at how the recycling at the Woods gate can be better managed and controlled – especially in terms of community access beyond the SCS community.
With best wishes for the rest of the term and warm regards,