Castle Bridge Combined School re-structures for 2015

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THANDI XABA

Castle Bridge Combined School in Wilgehof is not closing down despite the persisting rumour that it is. The owner, director and principal of the independent school, Jacques Pelser says due to parents of the high school learners not paying school fees, management decided to close the grade 10-12 (FET) division of the school.

Pelser says the district department of education has been very involved in assisting stranded learners find schools for 2015.

“We are in financial difficulty due to non-payment of school fees by parents, mainly the high school parents. We have a lot of kids in high school but very few and not enough parents pay school fees, 40% high school parents don’t pay school fees in the high school, and that makes it difficult to deliver educational services without payment of school fees. We are an independent school but despite that we are dependent on parents paying school fees,” he says.

The school management felt they had no choice and Pelser says in the end, their decision is mainly based on financial issues, leading to the decision to phase out FET which Grade 10, 11 and 12. “The school is not closing and such a rumour can destroy a school, it ran around two years ago as well,” he emphasises.

The school will be re-structured and will go from a combined school back to an intermediate school.

He says the school management feels very comfortable with intermediate education (Grade R to 9). “Primary school (intermediate) education has a cheaper curriculum and we are good at it. It is all an economic consideration because FET curriculum is very expensive and we need specialised educators to deliver it as well.”

The district department is very involved in the re-structering process and according to Pelser they have been assisting them to find spaces for the stranded learners. "We have a responsibility to help find schools for these kids for next year. Parents have been involved as well and both primary and high school parents have been given letters communicating what is going on," he adds.