School Governing Body Report – Dr Dumani Kula (SGB Chairperson)

There is no doubt that 2020 will go down as an unprecedented year. The COVID-19 pandemic has re-set how we know life to be, with every aspect of our day to day lives affected. Moreover, lives have been lost, and livelihoods destroyed. Our prayers are with all those who have been affected, directly and indirectly. We also pay tribute to all those who have been on the frontline, ensuring that we can resume our day to day activities. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the parents, learners, staff and the management team during this difficult period.

For 2020, we had planned a year-long set of activities to mark the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the school. While we were not able to do this as planned, the 50 years of investment in the school from its humble beginnings in 1970 put us in a strong position as we faced the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The most recent developments at the school, guided by the 2018-2020 School Development Plan, have been instrumental in ensuring we could safely resume our day to day learning activities. The upgrading of our ICT infrastructure and expansion of the fibre coverage we undertook in 2019 proved to be particularly timely. Our newly introduced on-site social worker also played a crucial role in supporting staff, learners and parents in dealing with the anxiety evoked by the arrival of COVID-19 in March, through the lockdown weeks, and then as schooling resumed.

The true test of how resilient our school has been is best demonstrated by the outcomes of the mid-year assessments conducted recently. Our learners achieved an average pass mark of 72.1%, compared with the average of 70.9% for the prior 3 years, 2017 to 2019. These pleasing results were consistent throughout both Foundation and Intersen phases.

As we look ahead, there remain lots of unknowns. As a school, we are determined to continue with our plans as far as possible. The preparatory work for the building of additional classrooms and the Grade 7 gallery in the hall is at an advanced stage. We are aiming to finalise plan approvals and financing arrangements early in 2021, so we can get final approvals from the parent body by end of the 1st half of 2021. This additional infrastructure is critical, more so now than when we first conceptualised the project.

We are also gearing up to continue providing the required support to all our important stakeholders. The deferment of the school fee increases to July is just one of the measures we are putting in place to support parents. Even then, we aim to continue more investment in the school to enhance learning and teaching.

2020 also marks the end of term for the current School Governing Body (SGB), with elections anticipated in the first quarter of 2021. We look forward to having more parents be available to contribute to the school’s governance and functioning through the SGB, the Montrose Parents Association and various other channels that are available. Parents in our community led the establishment of the school in 1970 and we should seek to strengthen the culture of parents being actively involved.

On behalf of the outgoing SGB, I wish to thank you for entrusting us with this role over the last 3 years. I also extend gratitude to the entire management and staff at Montrose, without whom we would not be able to carry out the work of oversight. I also wish you all safe and restful December holidays, and a great start to 2021.

Yield not.