News clipping – Northglen News (Durban) – 19th April 2011

School term disrupted

Schools were frustrated to hear that after initially denying them two days’ holiday on 28 and 29 April, the Department of Education has now allowed the holidays.

Basic Education Minister, Angie Motsheka, admitted the department planned badly regarding the Easter holidays and that the school calendar was very disruptive.

Schools are taking off the Tuesday, April 26, between the public holidays on Monday, 25 April and Wednesday 27 April next week, and now have the option of taking off the Thursday and Friday as well. Despite this, most schools in the North won’t be granting Thursday and Friday as holidays because it’s very difficult to make up the extra hours.

Tony Jordan, principal of Northwood School said there is no doubt the holidays have fallen very awkwardly and that there was also poor planning regarding the 2011 calendar.
“As a matter of interest, our group of Durban North principals drew attention to the present problem several years ago, when there was a call for public comment on the draft school calendar,” said Jordan
“However, our comments obviously did not find favour. Towards the end of last year, the Western Cape Education Department sought permission to start school two days earlier in January, to make up the lost days, and the national department gave authority to provincial departments to consider similar applications on their merits, if they felt inclined to do so. The KZN department decided not to approve any requests for closure, and on the basis of that information, we went ahead with 28 and 29 April as school days.”

Jordan said they were aware some parents would be taking their boys away on holiday, and that others would not bring boarders back from far-flung parts for just two days, but any missed work would have to be made up in their own time.
“To be told at this late stage schools can put in a plan to close, provided they make the time up elsewhere, is not at all helpful, and we will not be applying for the days off. The reality is that our extremely busy co-curricular timetable precludes us from finding two full Saturdays to have as full school days, and stealing two days from the July holidays won’t suit everyone either, “said Jordan.

Principal of Chelsea Preparatory School, Clive Nel, agreed that it would initially have been logical to close, but this had been refused.
“Even those who planned and applied a long time back were told they could not close,” said Nel
“To my knowledge most Durban North schools will be open except Durban North College and North Crest Primary School. The reality is that it is very difficult to work time back. We would have to cancel arrangements to work a longer day and the same applies to Saturdays. I would also imagine, as has been shown in the past, that many pupils simply don’t turn up for Saturday classes. My personal view is that we must show ourselves to be a school of substance, that we are serious about what we do and we don’t change our programme without due planning, ensuring that our academic programme is not compromised. If parents wish to take their children out we cannot stop them but we will operate and teach as normal,” said Nel.

By: Lauren Anthony