THEY are the first matric class of Claremont High School – and are hoping to set the bar extremely high for all future pupils at the maths and science specialist school.
“One hundred percent pass rate, that is non-negotiable. One hundred percent bachelor pass, that is tough but not impossible,” said principal Murray Gibbon.
The matric class, who completed the second maths exam yesterday, joined the school in Grade 10 when it opened its doors in January 2011.
Gibbon said they would be responsible for setting the standard for all future matric classes.
“They’ve had to be leaders and role-models. They’ve established the right ethos and vision for the school. This is the first one that has knocked them. But they are well-prepared. They will have coped better than others.”
He said pupils would have been “shell-shocked” by the paper which had “80 percent tricky questions”.
“It was a really hard paper. It really tested understanding which is good but it is a much higher level than they are used to.”
The Cape TImes spoke to a number of pupils who felt the paper, which included trigonometry and geometry questions, was manageable but they would have liked more time to answer the questions.
Gibbon said there was a misconception that the school only accepted pupils who had achieved excellent results in both maths and science.
“We accept the best of those who apply. They’ve got a lot of gaps in their background. We do a lot of bridging work in the early years. Our mandate is to create access to pupils from disadvantaged areas.”
He said they were the top pupils from about 60 primary schools – often in previously disadvantaged areas – across Cape Town.
In the school’s foyer was a map of Cape Town on to which each pupil’s home had been pinned, stretching from Bo-Kaap to Westlake and Mitchells Plain to Blue Downs.
Gibbon said most pupils had to travel to the school using public transport, often for about three hours each day.
Classes were held daily from 8am to 4.15pm.
“They’ve been working very hard. Every day of the term, no days off. Extra classes.”
He described the nearly three years at the brand-new school as “both amazing and innovative”.
“It has been amazing to see the growth in the pupils. Their work ethic has grown.”
Jasper Stupart, chief invigilator and maths educator, said he was happy with the exam.
“It was testing but it was a true test of insight and reason. Rote learning would not have helped.”
To minimise teething problems experienced by new schools and ensure all standards were immediately met, the Western Cape Education Department had entered into a “piggyback” arrangement with Westerford High School to provide support and guidance for the first few years.
Westerford principal Rob le Roux said: “We are very excited about it. We are really anticipating good results.”
l Pupils were expected to complete the computer applications technology and information technology theory exams and the optional maths paper three today.