Northwood celebrates 40-year milestone

Northwood Primary School staff sport their track tops, made in honour of the Woodlands schools 40th anniversary.

Fortieth anniversary celebrations kicked off with a bang at Northwood Primary School on Friday August 31 as they released 40 helium balloons, representing the heights they wish pupils to reach academically and in sport.

Parents were invited for cake and tea and the pupils received party packets.

The Woodlands school hosted a sports festival on Saturday September 1 with five neighbouring schools and a visiting school from Cradock, in the Eastern Cape.

The school pulled out all the stops, fencing the school premises and revamping it to accommodate the visiting pupils.

Principal Leon Jones said it was all part of the pupils taking pride in their school and wanting to make a difference in the community.

He said the perimeter fencing and painting of the school comes more than 10 years after the school submitted an application for it to the education department.

“Our school’s name was on the maintenance list but if there is a school in greater need, then we just get bumped back on the list,” he said.

Hesaidthetoiletswere revamped and showers had to be installed for their guests.

This was the third school to be built in Mitchell’s Plain in 1988, two years after Highlands Primary School, just down the road, and Mitchell’s Plain Primary School, in Westridge opened their doors.

On their to-do list is the building of a school hall and acquiring a school mini-bus.

For now pupils attend assembly outside in a quad or in two additional classrooms separated by a sliding door, which cannot adequately accommodate the now more than 1 200 pupils.

The school opened its doors to about 700 pupils, with 20 teachers.

Today they have 35 teachers, five support staff excluding staff members who work in the school’s feeding scheme and the gardener, three administrative staff and two information technologists.

Mr Jones said the school’s Literacy and Numeracy (LITNUM) scores for Grades 3 and 6 have been increasing steadily.

While the school was the recipient of a Khanya computer lab and a Shuttleworth lab, the latter had become obsolete and they transformed it into a maths centre.

“We have a newly erected library, which is currently undergoing further transformation,” said Mr Jones.

He said they had a beautiful garden, initially sponsored by Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which the school now maintains.

“We also have a well-kept vegetable garden that ensures a fresh supply of vegetables to our feeding scheme.

“The face of the school is changing, not just with aesthetics but also the staff room has grown to make space for more new teachers.

“Over the last year, we’ve had seven new recruits, who have brought a positive vibe and energy, which is good for the morale of the pupils and the school, as a whole,” he said.

Mr Jones said that although the new teachers’ enthusiasm added a new dimension to the school, his veteran teachers were still held in high esteem as there was no substitute for the wealth of experience they brought into the classroom every day and could share with the new appointees.

He said partnerships, like Edufundi, which supports teachers with in-classroom mentorship and support, had positively impacted on the school’s academic results.

Pupils participate in Spine Road High School’s annual mathematicsolympiad, where their top academic pupils attend high school.

Mr Jones said: “If not Spine Road then Mondale. We are also feeder schools to Princeton and Woodlands secondary schools,” he said.

This year the school also enrolled in the Greenshoots Programme which will further strengthen the numeracy skills of the pupils.

“As part of our anniversary celebrations, pupils in Grades 6 and 7 will be going on tour to George, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Plettenberg Bay and Oudtshoorn, which the school co-sponsors by arranging fund-raising for needy pupils,” he said.

They have partnered with the Cradock school, whom they will be visiting every alternate year.

The anniversary celebrations will culminate in a thanksgiving ceremony on Tuesday September 25, which will be followed by a lunch at Barron’s Estate, in Schaapkraal, for teachers, ex-teachers, non-teaching staff, sponsors and education district representatives.

“Currently we are a dual medium school but the language of learning and teaching will be changing in the foreseeable future.

“Our school has also received honours at the provincial awards for continuous improvement in the systemic results,” he said.

Deputy principal Edwina Liedeman said they were very proud to offer their pupils a wide range of sporting codes and social club activities to balance the academics.

There are two coaches, from the Run4Schools Foundation, a Netherlands-based organisation which runs an in-school programme and an after-school programme every day until 4pm.

The focus is on physical education and outreach programmes which comprise sports, arts and culture.

The foundation also sponsored an Astroturf at the school, which the community can also use at a nominal cost.

“We have a Soul Buddyz club, a social peer education club, encouraging pupils to speak out against social ills,” she said.

“We also have a ‘Girls Talk Club’, where the girl pupils can ask questions
and speak to the female teachers about puberty and other girl-related issues,” she said.

The school works with social work students, from the University of the Western Cape and the University of Cape Town and they also have a representative from the Children’s Resource Centre, who mentors pupils and does health promotions with them weekly, to empower them.

The school has a marching drill squad, which competes in the Western Province Drilling competition.

The no-fee school, however, faces its fair share of external challenges, among them substance abuse by parents, single-parent households and gangsterism.

“Despite the numerous adverse circumstances our pupils face, we are committed to create a safe environment, where pupils can learn and excel,” Ms Liedeman said.