High school in Retreat is province’s worst performing school with 35.9% matric pass rate

Blame game after 37 out of 103 learners at Retreat high school pass their NSC exams. Picture: Cindy Waxa/Independent Newspapers (Archive)

Blame game after 37 out of 103 learners at Retreat high school pass their NSC exams. Picture: Cindy Waxa/Independent Newspapers (Archive)

Published Jan 23, 2024


With a matric pass rate of only 35.9%, Crestway High School in Retreat officially became the province’s worst performing school during the matric 2023 NSC exams.

According to the 2023 National Senior Certificate exam results school performance report, Crestway High accounted for the one school out of 454 schools in the province that had a pass rate of between 20 and 39.9%.

The Western Cape achieved an overall pass rate of 81.54% in 2023.

In 2021, Crestway recorded a pass rate of 58.2% and 58.6% in 2022.

The Western Cape Education Department told the Cape Argus that out of 103 learners that wrote, only 37 passed.

Eleven of the 37 managed to obtain a Bachelor’s admission pass.

Parents for Equal Education SA (Peesa) founder Vanessa le Roux said that the results were a reflection of a system and school management that failed the learners instead of learners failing matric.

“When you see a pass mark of only 35%, which is a daring number, you should start looking at the school and throwing questions their way, as well as to the WCED.

“Reason why I say this is because surely this pattern should’ve been picked up during the June exam already, and if it was, what type of intervention was there?

“The majority of high schools shift their focus to matriculants. Extra resources and time goes into their education, so what went wrong here? If it was 30% that failed then we could look at the ‘lazy learner’ aspect, but not when only 30% passed,” she said.

Le Roux added that the school, student governing body and WCED should be the ones taking responsibility.

“There are schools in bad, gang-infested areas that did much better, so circumstances can’t be a factor in this case; someone needs to take accountability.

“We need to ask how the department did not pick it up in June already. Did the SGB inform parents, did the school management inform the department? Because clearly these learners were failed by someone, almost a whole school? I believe a child will never want the embarrassment of failing matric.

“This is stupidity at its best from those you would think would make informed decisions,” Le Roux said.

The WCED in turn said that the district’s head of curriculum would be meeting with the school to analyse the individual subject results in detail.

“This is so that lesson plans to address the areas that need extra attention can be provided by our subject advisers.

“Grade 12s will also attend Saturday classes this year, and additional training will be given to teachers.

“The school’s senior management team has also been enrolled in the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute’s leadership programme, as they were identified as needing additional support at the end of last year,” the department said.

The WCED added that the district director and management team will meet with all underperforming schools to guide them in the development of improvement plans, and will monitor progress in the implementation of these plans closely over the coming year.

“The district director also visits the Grade 12 learners, teachers and school management teams to encourage and motivate them.”

A community member believes that the school has given its full attention to the learners and it’s the parents and learners that should be held accountable.

“The school can’t be held responsible. It is up to the child, they are given all the skills, and they are provided with after-school classes, extramural activities and feeding schemes. The problem is there have been many issues at the school, running around and bunking, during school hours.

“Teachers can only do so much, we can’t hold a coach responsible for the team’s performance. We also need to ask what conditions are the teachers teaching under.

“Then there are the parents, who also have a big role to play, they should take responsibility, teach their kids discipline too. Maybe this is a cry out from the school itself to the parents and the education department,” he said.

Community Activist Lucinda Evans, has reached out to the school, encouraging learners to join their youth programme as a 35% pass rate was worrisome.

“The youth programme is for learners between Grades 8 and 12; here we extensively work on supporting young people at school and to support them,” she said.

Education MEC David Maynier also encouraged candidates that did not achieve their desired results to not give up.

“We encourage all learners who did not achieve their desired marks to apply for a re-mark or re-check if they do not feel their results reflect their performance, or to write the exams in June. More information on these options is available on the WCED website.

“There are measures in place to receive counselling for anyone who is disappointed with their results, either by approaching their school, which will put them in touch with the relevant people in the district offices, or by phoning the Safe Schools Hotline - 0800 45 46 47,” he said.

Cape Argus tried reaching out to the school’s SGB for a comment yesterday but without success.

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Cape Argus