THE principal of the worst-performing school in the province says he is determined to turn his school results around.
Peak View Secondary School in Athlone recorded an 18.9 percent matric pass rate in 2011.
The school’s principal, Oswald de Villiers, is now working hard to boost his pupils’ morale.
He said the first day of the 2012 school year had gone well.
“The learners have been given the school’s code of conduct and they will be going through it with the teachers today.”
De Villiers said that due to the school’s poor results last year, his matric pupils were demotivated, and staff would be dedicating time, including staying later after school, to help them through their work.
He said the biggest problem at the school was the language barrier.
Of the 40 pupils who sat for their matric exams last year, 26 spoke Xhosa, 12 spoke Afrikaans and the rest had English as a first language.
“We have a language barrier. Some kids only speak English at the school, either when a teacher is addressing them or when they have to write… if you don’t practise something, you are not going to learn it.”
De Villiers said most pupils spoke their home languages to each other, inside and outside of the classroom.
“All our Xhosa learners failed English (in 2011),” he said.
He said he had appointed a Xhosa teacher and the school would be offering isiXhosa as a first language from grades 8 to 12 from this year.
“We are introducing drastic changes in order to give them some chance to pass.”
De Villiers said the school would also be offering extra classes during the week and on weekends as well as participating in Stellenbosch University’s telematics programme.
The school had been part of the programme before, but there had been a high absentee rate among pupils.
“I don’t have absenteeism from teachers, some of the teachers haven’t been absent from school in over two years. They are dedicated, committed and work hard,” he noted.
De Villiers said the biggest problems were lack of parental involvement and absenteeism among the Grade 12s.
“We have no interest from the parents. We had six parent- teacher meetings last year and only about 10 percent of the parents showed up.
“This year we are going to send them letters asking when it would be convenient for them to come to the school… they can indicate the day and time, and we will stay here until 8pm if we have to.”
He said another issue that would be addressed was attendance. Some mornings there were fewer than 20 pupils in the classroom.
“Some stayed absent, and we had to chase them to hand in their projects and assignments.”
De Villiers said he was hopeful that he would be able to reverse the school’s downward trend.
“In 2005 we achieved a 95 percent pass rate, but it went down to 87 percent, then 69 percent, until we hit rock bottom. I want to return the school to its former glory.”