Cape Town - A year ago it was labelled the worst performing school in the province after achieving a matric pass rate of just 18.9 percent.
And Peak View High principal Oswald de Villiers said that things got even worse just days later when education officials came to the school “and told us in no uncertain terms that you, the class of 2012, don’t stand a chance of passing if you stay at the school”.
But the Athlone school refused to accept this prediction even after Education MEC Donald Grant indicated his intention to close the school.
And on Thursday they proved all their critics wrong.
Loud cheers erupted when De Villiers announced that the school’s 2012 pass rate was 74.4 percent.
“I am ecstatic… I feel we have been vindicated. We have shown the WCED (Western Cape Education Department) that their reasons for wanting to close us were flawed,” he said.
The number of pupils who passed matric at the school have increased from seven in 2011 to 32 in 2012.
The school’s top pupil, Grant Johnson, who earned a distinction, said he never thought of going to another school, despite the school’s poor performance in 2011.
“What people said about the school was not important. I have a home here. We worked hard and our teachers are always there to help us.”
Last year, teachers told the Cape Argus that the reason for the school’s poor performance was that 24 Xhosa-speaking pupils had failed English home language and the department hadn’t provided support programmes for this subject.
Grant announced in October 2012 that the school would not be closed.
On Thursday, ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman visited Peak View, Zonnebloem Nest and Beauvallon high schools, three schools targeted by Grant for closure “due to poor performance”.
Beauvallon earned a pass rate of 51.5 percent compared to 24 percent in 2011, while Zonnebloem’s pass rate was 96.6 percent, compared to 85.2 percent in 2011.
In response to a call by Fransman for Grant’s resignation, Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, said Fransman “has demonstrated the complete inability to understand the information that has been made available by the WCED”.
“Fransman seems to forget that the minister decided not to close Peak View and Zonnebloem. He overturned the recommendations by the department to close these schools after the public hearings,” she said.
Casey said the WCED had expected to see an increase in the results at Peak View.
“In October, Minister Grant said that Peak View must be given an opportunity to improve its results across all grades given that the isi-Xhosa home language was introduced as a subject only in 2012. This would then counter the failures in English home language at the school.
“We are delighted that Minister Grant’s decision to not close Peak View based on changes to the language issue has ultimately translated into improved results,” Casey said.