Secure your child’s place at school

Spine Road High School principal Riyaadh Najaar.

With the increased demand for places in schools, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is urging parents to apply for enrolment by Friday March 24.

According to the WCED, six out of the 17 high schools in Mitchell’s Plain are focus schools.

The aim of focus schools are to provide specialised education in the selected fields and equip pupils with scarce skills needed in the marketplace.

Millicent Merton, WCED spokesperson, said parents should however apply to more than one school, and not only at a focus school.

The Mitchell’s Plain focus schools are Cedar Secondary School in Rocklands which has a focus on arts and culture; Oval North Secondary School in Beacon Valley which focuses on engineering; Spine Road High School in Rocklands; Mondale High School in Portland and Rocklands High School, which are all maths and science focus schools and Princeton High School in Woodlands, a technical school.

At a focus school there are subject specific requirements.

Ms Merton said in terms of the National Admission Policy where placement in a specific course or programme, for example, a technical field of study, dance, visual art, music, drama, sport, mathematics is required, the pupil may be requested to undergo a competency test.

The assessment for placement could also include interviews, auditions, the presentation of portfolios of work and practical testing.

Ms Merton said pupils who do not meet the application requirements at a focus school, should apply at schools that offer other subjects.

“Applications should be based on the child’s strengths, talents and abilities in particular subjects,” she said.

Speaking about Mitchell’s Plain School of Skills, located on the old Weltevreden Primary School grounds in Rocklands, she said it offers an adapted and differentiated vocational and practical curriculum to accommodate pupils who ordinarily cannot cope or achieve their potential in mainstream schools, despite support.

“These pupils are instead offered an opportunity to create an alternative career path by developing vocational and practical skills. Pupils who have an interest in skills development will be assessed at district level and may be referred to a School of Skills.

“A pupil can enter a School of Skills from a mainstream school at the age of 14 turning 15 where they will spend four years in an educational programme,” she said.

Spine Road High School principal Riyaadh Najaar said they have had an an influx of applications for Grade 8 since the beginning of February.

“We have had close to 1 000 applications thus far and we will be getting more applications until the end of March. Last year we received a total of 1 340 applications,” he said.

Mr Najaar said many of the area’s focus schools have hundreds of applications.

“This is because our standard is higher and is improving yearly,” he said.

Oval North High School principal Na-eem Kassiem said last year they had about 600 applications for Grade 8, but can only take 180 pupils.

“We are a technical focused school, and our aim is to produce engineers and technicians. So when pupils apply here then they should have a keen interest in going into that field,” he said.

Mr Kassiem added that pupils from across the Cape Flats, not only Mitchell’s Plain, apply at Oval North and appealed to parents to apply at other schools too in addition to a focus school.

“The pupils write a test, and based on that they are accepted.

“Our aim is to develop pupils to the fullest and equip them with technical skills. We would like to see them build and design beautiful buildings, machines and cars. Government invests millions into our schools with equipment and machines, so we need to produce only the best,” he said.

The WCED has set the deadline for applications for enrolment in Western Cape schools for next year as Friday March 24 this year because of increasing demand for places in schools in the province.

The deadline applies in particular to children who are entering Grade 1 or Grade 8 in 2018, and children who are changing schools.

Parents have to apply before the end of the first term of 2017 for 2018, to enable schools to process applications during the second term.

Schools must inform parents of the outcome in writing of their applications by Saturday June 3.

Parents have to confirm acceptance by the end of the second term, by Friday June 30.