Johannesburg - Widespread changes have taken place in the past four and a half decades in South Africa, but for a prominent Joburg school, there has been one constant.
For 45 consecutive years, St Benedict’s College in Bedfordview has obtained a 100% matric pass rate.
This feat, which began in 1975, has continued with the Class of 2019, and the school has also achieved a distinction ratio of almost two per pupil.
Three St Benedict’s boys attained averages of over 90% and five pupils were are among the country’s highest achievers.
While headmaster Dave Jeffrey is delighted with his pupils’ accolades, the foundation of their success was years in the making, he says.
“We set targets at the school, and the pupils are constantly reminded of them, even on their very first day with us.”
This is a five-year process, beginning at the start of Grade 8.
“At my very first assembly on the first day of school, I address the pupils and remind them of the high standards we have at the school, and that they have a responsibility towards maintaining a 100% matric pass rate.”
Relationships, he says, are key. Jeffrey works closely with his teachers, sports coaches and parents as they forge a singular view of a pupil’s success.
“I hold my staff accountable because the parents hold me accountable. We are all part of one team, and we all work hand in hand, with the objective of helping every single one of our boys achieve success in the adult world.”
Academics, along with time management, passion, routine and the right attitude, is of utmost importance to Jeffrey and the school.
As St Benedict’s, affectionately known as “Bennies,” works towards academic perfection, Jeffrey explains it operates a specialised tutor programme, Boys to Men.
“This programme involves two boys from each group being placed in a tutor group with a teacher responsible to meet the needs of these pupils every school day.”
While the school is acclaimed for its academics, it also believes in balance and offers a host of cultural activities. Sport is compulsory.
“We understand that not all boys are the same and that each of them will excel in different areas.”
While Jeffrey is proud of the school’s matric pass rate and distinction ratio, he insists that the individual achievements of every single one of his pupils are equally important.
“Not all our pupils are from privileged backgrounds, so some of the things I am most proud of are those who go from 50% to 60% or those who go from failing a subject to passing them. Differential teaching methods is what gets all the boys through matric.”