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From the Principal's Office

A Message From the Principal - Jan 2013

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If a school is understood to be an isolated entity where subjects are taught and some learning may happen then the broader concept of education is not understood.

A successful school is a dynamic organism that produces a highly sophisticated product something that no science, biology or technology has been able to emulate, even remotely ...our future leaders, developers of our communities and country, as well as protectors of our future lives within our own country. Our children come to us in grade R and grow progressively through to grade 12 and culminate as well prepared ladies and gentlemen who step into the next phase of their lives. But how are these well prepared young people received into this new phase of their lives...perhaps not with the respect and support from authorities they deserve. The lack of deserved credit for these good schools serves only to perpetrate a global negative stigma under which all schools in South Africa are regarded as useless. This creates a poor public image of the competence in school. But.......

A true educationist will always recognize inferior education on the one hand or education of excellence on the other. At first glance education appears to be in a serious crisis ... but there are some schools, even in the Eastern Cape, where fantastic work is being done, where the quality of education is as good if not better than many of the first world countries. Strangely though, many people in authority do not (perhaps cannot) recognise this or give credit where credit is due; instead some of the schools have to endure a barrage of threats from the Department of Education.

A school of excellence is a consequence of good planning, organization, competence, high teaching skill, high levels of responsibility, accountability, consultative leadership, purposeful use of finances, clear understanding of the varying roles of leadership, strong execution of leadership and team work. Pure management in the case of a school is just not enough to ensure a good school. Understand that a good school is firstly the combination of motivated and dependable staff, secondly students who understand the value of what it means to make a contribution to a bigger cause and thirdly but certainly not the least, parents of the school.

Involved parents who recognise and appreciate those fine and unique principles that make the school which they are part of a really good school are a tremendous asset to a successful school's dynamic. They trust the school management, pay their fees, take their responsibility as a parent seriously and help build the school. But there is a dilemma ... how do you recognize good education if you have never experienced a dynamic and fully functional school and therefore have no educational principles to serve as a benchmark to be able to make an objective value judgement on whether a school can be judged as educationally sound or not? This dilemma in my opinion can help to explain the dysfunctional nature of many schools...if one would just care to take note.

Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you in the Lilyfontein family whose concept of education is sound enough to be able to appreciate the education offered at Lilyfontein. Thank you to those parents for their support and the extra interest they show in helping Lilyfontein to grow, those students who make such a difference to our school by their involvement and representing their school in all sorts of different events. Thank you for the professional approach of our teaching staff and the fantastic back up and support from the admin staff that go that extra mile to ensure such a positive atmosphere at school that they make the rest of our school day more pleasant. Included in the above scenarios are our grounds and maintenance staff who get on with their jobs of meeting the demands of a fast growing school on a daily basis; a huge task on its own. Over and above the maintenance factor are the infrastructural developments at Lilyfontein that have been done by our own building crew in this year alone:

  • Occupation of new grade 5 classes
  • Completion of new boys and girls toilet block for grade 4 to 6
  • Completion of the change rooms with toilets and showers with a good supply of hot water
  • Completion of the foyer at the hall in time for prize giving this year was fantastic. This foyer will make a big difference to our gatherings in the hall
  • Completion of the passage/ walkways attached to the hall
  • A new tuck shop in operation

In progress at the moment:

  • Two grade 6 classes to be completed by year end for occupation in 2013.
  • Completion of offices for the HOD of Primary School.
  • An additional multi purpose class added to the grade R Block.
  • Stairways and revamping of the leisure and seating area at the new tuck shop.
  • Stairways and seating at the netball courts
  • Revamping of the cricket nets

Projects to be done during the course of next year:

  • New staff room to accommodate the ever growing staff complement
  • Grade 7 classes for 2014, including staff toilets and offices
  • Revamping of the front of house and reception area
  • Deck roof and hostel side of the hall to be completed; which will include, a gym, storage space and a leisure lounge/club house
  • Entrance between the two bottom blocks as a main entrance
  • Covered walkways
  • Parking and drop off zones

Large projects which we would like to start as soon as we are able:

  • New fields above the hostel
  • New 4 berth cricket pitch on this field
  • Swimming pool and change rooms
  • Squash courts
  • Additional tennis courts
  • New garages for all the vehicles

These achievements are commendable and are an example of the extra mile some schools go because they understand the concept of how good education works. What is more, these are achieved without the assistance of our mother body, the Department of Education. This example encourages our students to understand the significance of hard work and energy as the corner stones of progress. The ingredients for a constructive ethos are simple... energy and hard work.

An interesting thought from recent writings by Peter Singer regarding the philosophy of the origin of ethics certainly raises a few questions! He raises the challenge of the extent to which ethics are biologically bound. We cannot escape the historic reality that human energy focussed around growth and maintenance will ensure the development of its people and its culture, but the converse is also true that human energy focussed on immediate gratification (corruption) and lazy pastimes will eat away at its own progress. There will be people by virtue of their energy who will learn, grow and develop amazing things and then those people who will want to have the amazing things that others have worked to create and if they cannot get they will take or destroy...history tells us that over the years this trend seems to have been the pattern of demise of cultures that have collapsed. At the end of the day cultural survival is about learning and working. Those who cannot learn, develop and grow will become dependent, forever complaining about what they did not get and then attempt to take by coercive means.

We remain proud of the academic achievement of the 2011 Lilyfontein matrics who continued our 100% pass rate. We are equally proud of our achievements outside the classroom, to name a few: the "Otter swims", the music evenings, the Grade 8 and 9 drama productions, the leadership and survival camps, the juniors' entrepreneur's day, adventure activities, our ethos of respect and good manners as well as our growing successes on the sports fields. These only happen through hard work!

Yes, the Lilyfontein Team offers academics at a high standard... but it is all the other elements and opportunities that our committed and busy staff go out of their way to offer... knowing that these experiences make up the essence of true character building for our students. Staff in good schools understand what the ethics of sound education is about, hence a constructive attitude and productive work capacity... and this in a nutshell is why some schools work so well!

Dr IW Galbraith

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