Afrikaans please, this is the northern suburbs
ENGLISH speaking parents in the northern suburbs are fed-up with the admission policies of their local schools and what they term the “nonchalant” attitude of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
A group of concerned parents claimed they had applied to between six and eight schools in their catchment/feeder areas and were rejected by all the schools. This means their little ones, who are due to begin Grade 1 in 2018, may not start at all.
At the heart of the matter is the lack of English medium classes at schools across the northern suburbs.
One of the parents, Michelle Biersteker, who lives 1.5km away from Brackenfell Primary, said she was the third person in the queue on the morning that admissions opened at the school but her application was rejected by the school on the grounds it had reached its capacity.
“I was at the school at 07.30am and I cannot understand how my child’s application was rejected,” said an exasperated Biersteker.
The WCED said the feeder-area policy no longer applied but according to parents, schools were still using this policy in their selection process
The WCED did however tell Biersteker and her group of WhatsApp friends that a new school will be built in the area, but that school was only due to open in August 2019.
Biersteker said the shortage of English medium classes was a common occurrence in the northern suburbs. Biersteker said, “at most of the schools you will find up to eight Afrikaans classes and only one English class”. WCED spokesperson Millicent Merton said the province did not have an admissions policy and a pupil was free to attend any school. Merton said each school followed its own policies.
“Some schools may give preference to children who already have siblings at that particular school,” said Merton.
Merton said the Afrikaans-English class ratio was based on demand and that decision was usually taken by the school’s governing body.
Biersteker had tried Bastion and Northpine too. She was relieved to receive a acceptance email from Bastion Primary after being rejected by the other schools. She said Brackenfell Primary informed her they had 600 children on the school’s waiting list for admission to Grade 1 in 2018. Many of the parents in her WhatsApp group are still hunting for a school.
Crescent Jurd said she had applied for her child to be admitted to six schools, all within a 6km radius of where she lives. The child was rejected by four of the schools and is on a waiting list at the other two.
Jurd said, “I heard that if people go and cry at the school, they get in.”
Cherry Physer also applied to five schools and was rejected by four. The remaining school informed her she would hear during the second week of the third term whether the application was successful.
Another mother, who wished to be identified as Candice, said a school told her she did not fall within the catchment area. “More and more English-speaking people are moving into the northern suburbs and the department should make proper plans,” said an infuriated Candice. Her daughter is due to start Grade R next year.
“I cannot afford the R4 000 a month that some of the private schools charge,” she said.
WCED spokesperson Paddy Attwell said the most popular schools in the North and East Metro districts were full.
“Metro East officials are referring learners in the circuits concerned to Northpine Primary, that still has places available for Grade 1 English classes and Metro North officials are referring parents to schools in Bellville South. Most schools in the district that previously offered only Afrikaans as the language of instruction now also offer English,” he said.
Attwell advised parents to approach district offices for help if they were finding it difficult to place their children. The deadline for applications for next year was March 24. Schools had to inform parents of the outcome of their applications by June 3. Parents have to confirm acceptance by the end of the month.
Attwell said the enrolment process was in the first half of the year so that the department could use the third term to place learners still without schools.