Bracken Hill Primary School headmaster resigns

Donald Grant

Three of the 17 schools in Western Cape fighting for survival were off to a rocky start to the school year yesterday.

Education MEC Donald Grant had wanted to close the schools on the grounds of insufficient numbers of pupils, and for other reasons. But the schools obtained a court interdict last month that barred Grant from closing them.

Bracken Hill EK Primary School, near Knysna, Warmbad-Spa Primary School, in Calitzdorp, and Beauvallon Secondary School, on the Cape Flats, all reported problems yesterday.

At Bracken Hill, the principal announced his resignation on Monday. School governing body chairman Sharon Filander said the move was traumatic for her daughters, aged 10 and 11.

“This morning I met the woman acting in his position for the first time. All the department has done is sow confusion here,” said Filander.

There are 60 children at the school. Last year, it had two teachers – one of whom was the principal.

Grant argued that the school should be closed and the pupils taught at a school 9km away.

“But there are not enough buses to transport the children. Parents don’t want them to use the bus. The Rheenendal accident scared them too much,” said Filander, referring to a 2011 accident in which 14 children and their bus driver were killed when the bus plunged into a river.

Kitty Jacobs, a member of the governing body of Warmbad-Spa Primary School, said yesterday that only the principal had arrived at school. The sole permanent teacher announced on Sunday that she had resigned.

Beauvallon Secondary School was vandalised and its electricity supply cut.

Bronagh Casey, spokesman for Grant, said the department of education would repair the Warmbad school and a new teacher would begin work there today.

She said the interdict was subject to a court review.

“The court order is a loss of opportunity for the children of this province. We will continue to fight for their rights to better educational opportunities.”

Magnus de Jong, spokesman for the Save Our Schools campaign, said: “The department cannot use dwindling numbers and poor performance as reasons to close the schools.”

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