Springfield Convent School. Picture: Tracey Adams / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Springfield Convent School in Wynberg has denied accusations of racism in its admission policy, brought by an aggrieved parent.

According to the parent, who didn’t want to be named out of fear of victimisation because her daughters are at the school, the nursery class kids of 2019 were 100% white. 

“The staff profile is untransformed. There are about 100 teachers but only seven coloured teachers and one African teacher. Even the isiXhosa teacher is a white woman,” the parent said.

She said parents were worried about speaking up for fear of victimisation of their daughters.

“The school is not easy for girls from poorer families. Girls whose parents cannot drive them to school each morning have to travel by train.” The parent said there was no school transport, so these girls had to walk from Wynberg station to the school.

She said that at a meeting, the parents, both black and white, supported moves to transform the school’s racial profile as it was overwhelmingly white.

The parent said the previous head teacher, Barbara Houghton, had started a transformation committee working with parents, but the school board closed the committee, saying it should be a subcommittee of the board.

“Houghton left the school at short notice at the end of 2018 after disputes with the board of governors. One of the disputes was over the lack of transformation,” the parent said.

Keith Richardson, the school’s principal, denied the accusations, and said the resignation of Houghton last year “had nothing to do with a perceived lack of transformation”.

“The school has been wrestling with balancing its Catholic entrance requirements with diversity requirements, which is subject of ongoing debate. At the moment, the school has about 30% to 35% of its learners as being of colour,” Richardson said.

“Springfield was the first school to open its doors to girls of all races, back in 1976 - a more than courageous act at the time.”

He said the policy today was the same - that no girl would be refused admission to Springfield on the grounds of race.

Richardson said the future admissions to the school would better reflect society: “We owe it to our children to bring them up in an atmosphere of acceptance.”


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Cape Argus