Cape Town - Two of the three schools in Valhalla Park could be closed at the end of the year - and the affected communities are opposing the proposal.
Should Education MEC Donald Grant decide to close Valpark Primary and Beauvallon Secondary School, the only school remaining in Valhalla Park will be Parkvale Primary.
The Western Cape Education Department’s reasons for the intended closure of Beauvallon are consistent underperformance in all grades and a high drop-out rate.
Its reasons for the intended closure of Valpark are dwindling pupil numbers and the fact that neighbouring schools - Parkvale and Helderberg, Bishop Lavis and Hillside primary schools in Bishop Lavis - can accommodate all the pupils.
Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said that the alternative schools offered better learning environments and rich sports and cultural activities, and obtained better literacy and numeracy results.
Valpark principal Adonis Arendse said he did not know why his school’s learning environment was considered worse than those of the alternative schools.
He said Valpark had improved its numeracy and literacy results.
Attwell said the department might propose turning Valpark Primary into a high school, if Grant agreed to close the school, possibly starting with grades 8 and 9. Should Beauvallon close, most pupils could attend John Ramsay High in Bishop Lavis, while some could go to Bishop Lavis Secondary. “The department believes that Beauvallon’s premises are beyond repair,” said Attwell.
He said the alternative schools achieved better results and better throughput rates.
Principal Henry Hockey, who is also a member of the Save our Schools steering committee for the two schools and Lavisrylaan Primary, said that if the department wanted to turn Valpark into a high school it should be discussed with all concerned.
He said one of the community’s biggest concerns with pupils having to go from Valhalla Park to Bishop Lavis was gang territories.
Hockey said that some of his pupils who attended a play in Bishop Lavis earlier this year had been stoned by other pupils.
He said that while four classrooms at the back of the school were in a bad state, the rest were intact.
Attwell said the education department believed that Parkvale Primary and a new high school based in the Valpark Primary school campus could improve opportunities for pupils. He said the department was sensitive to the concerns around the safety of pupils walking to school.
“We believe that gangsters should not be allowed to stop learners from accessing better opportunities and will therefore work with all concerned to address this issue,” said Attwell.