120604-Zonnebloem NEST Senior School-The Zonnebloem NEST Senior School is being closed by the Western Cape Department of Education-Article: Michelle Jones. Picture: Greg Maxwell

Michelle Jones

Education Writer

A TOTAL of 27 schools around the Western Cape face possible closure.

The schools, with declining pupil numbers and poor quality of learning and teaching, have received a notice from Education MEC Donald Grant announcing his intention to close them.

Zonnebloem Nest Senior School in Walmer Estate is one of the schools facing closure.

Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Grant, said that there had been no decision to close the schools as yet and this would only happen once all of the prescribed processes and requirements had been met.

She said the WCED would not be releasing the names of these schools so as to not compromise the process.

Casey said the department had to monitor the educational viability of all schools annually.

“Reasons for their notice include dwindling learner numbers, no sufficient future growth, the use of multigrade teaching and the poor quality of teaching and learning.

“The majority of the schools have less than 40 learners enrolled at their school.”

She said the department had to take steps to protect and promote the educational viability of schools to improve education outcomes.

Factors taken into consideration included:

l Pupil enrolment levels.

l Pupil retention levels.

l The quality of curriculum provisioning.

l The extent to which pupils had access to the school.

l The suitability of the school infrastructure.

These indicators were also considered with reference to the context within which the school operated.

Factors included planned local municipality developments, the language needs of the community and the availability of alternative school placement options for pupils and teachers.

Casey said Zonnebloem Nest Senior was being considered for closure because of its high drop-out rate and consistent underperformance.

She said there were several schools that could accommodate the pupils nearby – another six high schools were between 500m and 2km away from Zonnebloem Nest Senior.

Principal Jonty Damsell told the Cape Times he did not agree that the school had exceptionally high underperformance and drop-out rates.

The school’s governing body had been expected to hold a meeting last night to plan its response.

“I can only imagine there will be a vigorous attempt to keep us open,” Damsell said.

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