Steyn City Schools set to open in January 2018
Johannesburg, 2017 – Although the South African independent education sector has seen the development of a number of well-known private brands, which have gained credibility through their offering, last year Steyn City’s Board announced that the highly anticipated Steyn City Schools will be a completely independent world-class educational facility.
“It is vital to us that the school is a reflection of our values, which are rooted in family, community and relationships. Although the school is to be non-denominational, it will have a very firm ethical foundation,” Steyn City CEO Giuseppe Plumari states. “We felt that the best way to ensure this outcome was by developing our own legacy rather than buying into an existing school brand.”
In fact, the company engaged with several of the country’s most well recognised education brands; yet, in each case, it was felt that too much emphasis was given to the bottom line. With several hundred million rands scheduled for the first phase investment in classrooms, sports amenities and equipment, this is an area on which the Steyn City management refuses to compromise. “Our philosophy has always been to provide the very best of everything, and our school is no different,” comments Plumari. He adds that, as with the rest of Steyn City, the plan has been to implement all infrastructure and facilities ahead of time, rather than trying to raise funds and then build.
The Board is adamant that the education offered should be of the utmost quality, on par with the very best schools in South Africa and overseas. To ensure that this is the case, the school is assembling a team comprising outstanding educators, teachers and coaches who have already established their reputations.
Facilitating the creation of this team are Marcus Oshry and Miles Wilson, both stalwarts in the South African education industry. Both have impeccable credentials, with Oshry being a co-founder of a group of international schools, while Wilson has an enviable track record in education as director and co-founder of Trinity House Schools. They have already announced the appointment of the principal, Brian Mitchell, who is well known in independent education circles, having spent 14 years teaching at Johannesburg schools, including stints as Deputy Head at St Martin’s Prep and Principal at Redhill Prep. He later moved to Durban to take up the post as Headmaster of Clifton School.
“We believe that he is the type of leader who will empower his teachers to offer solutions, and develop a culture where people want to contribute, serve and create. He also shares our vision, being committed to the development of children and having a real passion for the excitement of learning and teaching,” comments Oshry, who is continuing the search for like-minded educators who want to play a role in this exceptional learning facility.
Steyn City Schools will be applying to join ISASA and looks forward to learning from and contributing to the educational debate within the independent school community. Mitchell’s experience in the structures of ISASA and SAHISA will provide an important bridge in this regard.
The curriculum on offer is also critical. The preparatory school will follow the national curriculum, while the college syllabus will initially be affiliated to the IEB, with plans to introduce an additional Cambridge curriculum for parents interested in following an international track in subsequent years.
In the meantime, construction on the school site is making great progress, with the buildings already framing the horizon in Steyn City. Like all other facilities at Steyn City, the school is being developed as an integral part of the lifestyle resort, rather than off plan. “There are several advantages to this,” Plumari notes, “the most important of which is that we are not making empty promises; we are delivering something concrete. Added to this, the school is fully funded and capitalised which means that, although there may be fundraising for social causes or charities which reflect our values, parents will not be expected to raise funds for school facilities.
This is a major plus, as the need to fund buildings is often a deterrent to parents considering a new school.”
Phase 1 of the project includes the pre-primary and primary campuses, and encompasses 23 classrooms, each of which will accommodate 25 pupils, and teaching assistants will be introduced to the younger grades. All classrooms have external verandas and are equipped with air conditioning, television sets and fibre connectivity. Other facilities include a state-of-the-art science laboratory, music and art rooms, as well as a tuck shop and school shop, and a 400m² media centre. From a sporting perspective, the school will offer two sports fields, a cricket oval and pavilion, an indoor aquatic centre, and three multi-courts, which may be used for tennis, basketball and netball, along with an athletics track. There is additionally, a multifunction hall. Pupils will also be able to access Steyn City’s outstanding facilities, which include a 60km mountain bike track, 20kms of road cycling lanes, a Nicklaus Design championship golf course and a world class equestrian centre.
A second phase is also set to be rolled out, equipping the college with a further 28 classrooms and additional science, art and music facilities.
Steyn City Schools will be accessed via the Cedar Road Gate, from where children who are not resident within the development will gain entry.
From the outset, an Early Years Centre, accommodating grades 000-00, will also be on offer, and will be housed separately to the main school. From January 2018, Grades 8 and 9 will initially be housed in the same building as the rest of the school until further grades are introduced to the high school in 2019. With admissions now open, the school will open its doors in January 2018.