Battle to get into school

The struggle Summer Greens parents face to find schools for their children is likely to be long and bitter, with education authorities saying there are no plans to build a school in the area.

Ngcangisa Tsotsi says three schools have declined her daughter’s application for a spot in a Grade 1 class for 2018.

She says despite “moving quickly” with application forms she was rejected by Edgemead Seamount and Milnerton.

All three told her “that they considered children in their own areas first”.

“We go shopping in Bothasig, we go to doctors in those areas, but, when it come to education, we are excluded,” said Ms Totsi.

She said she had been told that Bosmansdam Primary was the best option for her child because it was closer to Summer Greens but she had refused that option.

“I have the right to take my child to a school of my choice because I will be paying the school fees.”

She said if Summer Greens had a school, it would have been her first option because of convenience.

Faith Moreira said her son’s applications to Monte Vista and Edgemead primary schools had both been declined.

“Both schools said we need to find a school closer to our area. I asked Monte Vista if they could put my son on their waiting list and they obliged, but Edgemead Primary said straight out no.”

Ms Moreira moved her son to a pre-primary school in Monte Vista hoping it would improve his chances of getting a spot in a school within the area, but it did not.

Shannon Lawrence said her application to place her child at Milnerton High School had been declined twice.

Her child, who is at Woodbridge Primary School, is also on the waiting list at Edgemead High School.

“Summer Greens children are being shoved into Bosmansdam.

“There is no option to go to Milnerton High because they say they first see to surrounding residents,” said Ms Lawrence. She said she was not sure if she would send her child to a school in Summer Greens if one was built there, although, as a taxpayer, she said she would have appreciated having that option.

Member of Parliament James Vos said he had “lobbied relentlessly for a school to be built” during his time as councillor in Summer Greens between 2000 and 2005.

“The feedback I received from the authorities was that it was in close proximity to the feeder schools of the adjacent suburbs and furthermore the numbers didn’t warrant for a new school.

“The irony is that the developers even named one of the streets in the area School Road.

“This clearly contributed, in my view, to the expectation by many parents and the public that a school would be built in this particular street or location of the area.

“It is understandably not an ideal situation for the many pupils to walk long distances over busy highways to get to the schools of the adjacent suburbs.

“The Department of Education should provide the reasons and official standpoint on where schools are built and the provision of services.

“It’s about making use of resources in a more efficient and effective way,” said Mr Vos.

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokeswoman Jessica Shelver said the department did not determine feeder zones but the school governing bodies could, as they set the admissions policies.

Some schools gave preference to local pupils, while others catered to those commuting long distances.

“School governing bodies may determine admission policies, in line with the constitution and relevant legislation. The WCED opted not to apply a zoning policy, to maximise choice,” she said.

Besides schools in the Bothasig, Edgemead and Milnerton areas, Ms Shelver said parents could also consider schools on the Koeberg Road corridor, such as Tygerhof Primary School and Buren High School.

Ms Shelver confirmed the department had no plans at this stage to build a school in Summer Greens.

Milnerton High School principal Paul Besener said the school received “literally hundreds more” applications than they could cope with. “The problem is that we have six primary schools in our immediate area (Milnerton, Seamount, Woodbridge, Tygerhof, Curro and Marconi Beam) and this is before you go a little further afield to Holy Cross, Atlantic Beach etc.

“Although we are not always able to, we do sometimes take pupils from a little further afield. One of our big problems in the area is going to be Century City. There are thousands of families who live there, as in Summer Greens, and no schools.

“Parents have to face the fact that spaces in high schools are at a premium, and that they cannot put all their eggs in one basket. They need to make multiple applications in case their plan A does not work out.

“They have been encouraged to do so, but many have not – and then they blame the system if it cannot accommodate them,” said Mr Besener.

Bosmansdam High school principal Danie Human said while they were not obliged to take Summer Greens children due to the area’s close proximity to the school they trying their best to assist where they could.

“Some of the students in Summer Greens, are in fact, closer to our neighbouring schools,” said Mr Human.

He said a school in Summer Greens would “absolutely” alleviate some of the pressure off Bosmansdam High school

“As far as I know all the high schools within a radius of 15km from Summer Greens are over subscribed for 2018. As I understand it, no provision was made for a school in Summer Greens when it was planned. There is now a dire need for a school in that area,” he said.

Tabletalk asked Seamount, Edgemead and Monte Vista primary schools for comment but they had not provided feedback by the time this article went to print.