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The history of York High School is an attempt to show in a relaxed and informal manner how the school took root in its early years and how well it is growing.
For those who were at York in the early years, if you’ve not been back you won’t recognize your “alma mater”. This wonderful achievement is thanks to all the staff, pupils, parents and friends who have been part of York for the past 40 years.
Perhaps you’ll be a York’s 40th birthday when we can look back with some nostalgia – and forward with great confidence.
John Hartdegen, outspoken editor of the “Het Suid Western”, wrote in 1973 “The steady drifting apart of the two language groups needs arresting rather than accelerating. This was the case at the Outeniqua High School where English-speaking pupils were very much in the minority. The closing of the Convent High School section in 1967 led to the formation of a Committee to negotiate with the School Board and the Provincial Administration for an English Medium High School.
Bob Cawood was the Chairman of this first Committee and serving with him were Ken Smith (later to become York’s fist School Committee Chairman), Felix Harris, Gordon Moir, Paul Nevay and Peter Wiggett. Almost a year later, in June of 1970, the George School Board advised the Interim Committee that the Executive Committee of the Province had approved in principle the establishment of an English Medium High School at George for approximately 30 pupils from VI – X.
There was no further progress in 1971 and the Interim Committee awaited further developments. In December of 1973 all English-speaking parents of pupils in Stds 5, 6, 7, and 8 met the Committee in the Anglican Parish Hall.
Concerned about the welfare of English pupils in Stds 9 and 10, a letter was sent to the Director of Education on behalf of English parents requesting that Outeniqua Staff numbers not be reduced so that these pupils could continue to be taught in an English stream in 1975 and 1976. From July 1974 a frenzied scramble ensued to have things ready for the opening of the School in mid-January 1975.
In the meantime it was very obvious that Murray and Stewart were having a battle to finish the School Building in time. People ask, “Why York?” It was certainly not an attempt to link it with George Rex or a Duke of York (whoever that may have been). Once the name had been decided upon, it was a natural progression to include the York Rose in the badge with two oak leaves below for the oaks growing outside the entrance on Meade Street. Over the years the school has gained an enviable reputation for quality shows under the banner “York Entertains”. GEORGE: Builders at the new English-Medium High School worked overtime this week in their rush to get the building ready enough for the 160 pupils who were expected to enrol at the school yesterday. The Principal, Mr Ron Dugmore, and his staff of seven were frantically trying to sort out desks, books and other supplies as well as dealing with the enrolment forms for the pupils. The above newspaper report appeared on 16 January 1975 and gives a good idea of the state of “unreadiness” at the start of the school year when the George School Board officially handed over the school building. Because there was still no school uniform as yet, pupils had been asked to wear grey skirts or flannels, white shirts and a plain jersey for the cold. No pupil, no parent, no member of staff who was not part of that first year at York has any idea of how stimulating it was.
The Interim Committee was replaced by the first School Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr Kenneth Smith.
The first Annual Prize-giving, with Bert Pfuhl as guest speaker, was a proud occasion for the fledgling school. In 1992 York High School was 17 years old, had taken root and was growing, and in midyear changed Headmasters from Ron Dugmore to Graeme Pollock. 1993 and 1994 were years of great physical difficulty as we went through a period of renovation and additions to the school buildings and the hostel.
In 1996 the major changes in our country were reflected in the changes in the Education system proposed by the new Education Ministry and created a very different milieu for all ex-Model C schools.
We shared a determination not to allow our very high standards to drop – rather we would do all in our power to grow even further. 1997 will be remembered as the year in which the challenges in Education in South Africa became a reality. The decision to enter ourselves in the 1998 Sunday Times Top 100 Schools competition was possibly our statement of self-confidence – we knew that our thinking was along the right lines , that the education we offered, built upon the sound foundations of the past, was of a very high quality, and that our pupils who involved themselves in school life were achieving at a very high level in many areas. We all have it in our power – parents, educators and learners – each to do our little something so that our friends, our families, our school and our country may be the richer for it. Several years ago the infamous “Good Schools-Bad Schools” debate broke out in Cape Town press.
The login process requires Javascript, but you do not appear to have it enabled in your browser. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website, if you are happy with this please continue. If your League or Club has recently updated facilities, conducted First Aid Courses or installed or implemented risk management policies, you should apply now.Applications for the WorkSafe Safety Initiative Awards close Friday 29 July 2016. The facility features full disabled access, first aid facilities and seating for up to 3,000 spectators.The 4 indoor courts have sprung wooden floors and the spectator capacity is a mixture of fixed and retractable seating that is designed to maximise court usage.
Alterations have been done, wings have been added and the trees you planted have grown tall. Parents of primary school children in Knysna were calling for an English Medium Primary School. How can children from these different societies ever hope to understand each other when they are systematically kraaled off into different schools and raised in isolation from each other?” A Knysna primary school parent (English speaking) wrote “Morning assembly is exclusively Afrikaans, and at school events, English is used so sparingly you would think it was rationed.” An official of the Department of Education explained that “the Department does not favour the principle (of dual–medium schools) where there are not equal numbers of pupils in both language groups. Parents of English pupils at the time were quick to agree that academic standards at the school were excellent but many felt their children were being denied a traditional English education. It was pointed out that many pupils – boys in particular, were being educated at other Cape schools. The Committee decided to lie low in 1968 and then in April of 1969 approached the School Board to re-consider their earlier application.
Mr Chris Heunis, MP undertook to arrange a meeting with Mr Kritzinger, MPC to formulate a programme of action.
The meeting supported the idea of the industrialised building at an earlier date and the Interim Committee was re-elected en bloc. Letters of thanks were sent to Mr Kilpert, Headmaster of Outeniqua, Mr BA Jansen (Circuit Inspector) and Dr MC Stander of the School Board. Mr Ron Dugmore, who was Headmaster of Union High School, Graaf Reinet at the time, was appointed as Headmaster. Staff had to be interviewed and appointed, furniture and stationery requisitioned, school uniform (interim and permanent) to be decided upon, funds to be raised and a name to be chosen for the Department’s approval. Who will forget the first fundraising effort, a quiz show called “The English Inquisition” at which Frank Wastell said “I think a dhole is a mole with a cleft palate”?
York had an “English” ring about it, the School was situated on York Street and the short, strong name was eminently suitable for a school. This is the only English-medium High School between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and will probably be called the York High School. Of the specialised classrooms, only the domestic science room is finished, but floor tiles will have to be laid in the woodwork room, the two music rooms, the assembly hall and the two science laboratories. Dr MC Stander, Chairman of the Board, paid tribute to all those who had worked towards the establishment of the school and Mr RA Jansen, Regional Inspector, thanked the men and women of the Outeniqua High School who, over a period of 75 years, “had given unstintingly of themselves to educate the English-speaking youth.” In thanking the Department and the School Board, the new Headmaster, Mr R Dugmore, said that it had been particularly noticeable that the whole community had spontaneously supported the school and this argued well for the future. One bright-spark moved amongst his colleagues asking each in turn, “Are you new too?” The desks, all 272 of them – had arrived on Christmas Eve of 1974.
Fuelled by the Ballet Schools and the experience of the Arts Theatre, a Drama Society was soon arranging the first “York Entertains”. Forty four boys and girls moved in with Roy and Dee Simpson in charge and the York “family” was born.
In this Annual Report Mr Dugmore said “Most important for a new Headmaster is not inheriting a traditional way of doing things. With shock and a sense of great loss, staff, pupils and parents of York High learned of the death of Mr Kenneth Smith in December, barely a year after the founding of the School.
Realistically finance would be very heavily channelled towards those sections of our community most affected by previous government policies.
New Governing Bodies were elected, including for the first time among their ranks pupil representatives, educators and non-educator staff members in addition to the parents, and a realistic culture of learning had to be developed requiring pupils to accept greater accountability for their own progress.


How pleasing it was to find our confidence justified when we were named as one of the Top 100 schools nationwide. Well, over the past 25 years we have taken root very deeply and grown remarkably, thanks to the influence, encouragement and support of so many diverse individuals and groups.
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A move had been made as early as 1967 when the George Convent (for girls) closed its High School Section for the establishment of an English Medium High School in George.
It was simply impossible for a staff, however dedicated, to cater equally for the English minority groups. A site in York Street which had been set aside for education some ten years previously was suggested to the Department by the School Board. Unfortunately the Committee was informed that the English High School project was to be shelved owing to the Cape Provincial Administration’s freeze on capital works. The Committee was still determined to keep the Manie le Roux option as a temporary solution and the School Board again warned the Committee that “the use of the Manie le Roux should be carefully considered in the light of the progress being made for a new school.” By July 1973 the School Board HD decided that the whole project had become a matter of urgency and sent a deputation to Cape Town to tell the Director of Education so.
Mr Nevay explained that it would be this Committee’s responsibility to liaise with the Department in the establishment of the new school. A petition was signed by parents of Std 9 and 10 pupils at Outeniqua High asking the Department to reconsider their decision. Still, beggars could not be choosers, and the Committee was determined to make the best of it.
Relishing the challenge of starting a school “from scratch”, Mr Dugmore told prospective parents at a meeting in the Denver Hall in September, “We will be responsible for making the first rules and establishing the traditions of this new school – and this is a wonderful thing!” Contrary to Departmental expectations, applications for posts had been phenomenally good. The fact that the first Headmaster of York was a direct descendent of HH Dugmore is happy co-incidence.
The only problem was the stage set was incomplete, there were no proper costumes, the players were an unknown quantity most of the props were missing and the script was (almost) completely unrehearsed. The buildings are far from complete and the contract manager for Murray and Stewart, Mr Roy Portway, told me on Tuesday that they would not be finished before the end of February. Mr Portway told me that 105 workers had been employed on Monday simply to clean the cement splashes off the window panes of the E-shaped building and sweep out the classrooms. This was the first of many functions that York boys and girls experienced sitting on the cold Hall floor. The School Board had been unable to organise any labourers, so the Headmaster and his three young sons had personally carried them into the Showground Hall where they were stacked for the holidays. The first PTA under Malcolm Fraser’s leadership launched a series of ingenious fund-raising schemes. The aim was to create a relaxed and informal atmosphere while still maintaining strict discipline. We have had the opportunity of building up our own traditions and the foundations we lay will set the tone for the years to come. The Kenneth Smith Memorial Trust Fund established by his family for deserving Matric pupils will always remind us of the significant role Ken played in the founding of York High School. The Governing Body, who had put in an outstanding effort in their negotiations with the Department in terms of selling the site near Heather Park and utilising that money in addition to an amount provided by the Department for the renovations, had moved the role of Parent involvement into a new era. The re-structuring of teaching posts and the rationalisation of teaching personnel created many tensions within the teaching profession and, sadly, many great teachers were lost to the profession. In addition, there is an ongoing investigation into how best to accommodate subject areas as demanded by the newly introduced outcomes-based education, Curriculum 2005, with Typing giving way to Computer Studies as the first adaptation to our subject choice and the addition of a photography component to our senior Art classes.
A great deal of work was put into developing policies and structures that would allow the school to function in a democratic and inclusive manner, e.g.
Perhaps a look at one section of our entry for the 1999 Top Schools competition will give some insight. Not only because 10% of our matric pupils achieve A-aggregates every year, but more so because for the past five years none have failed! Working unselfishly together generated a sense of appreciation and a special feeling which York pupils share when they get to reminisce. York has in every sense grown into a vibrant, modern school with a reputation for excellence.
Opinions were divided as to whether separate schools for English speaking pupils was necessarily a good thing.
The Interim Committee must have begun to realize that a new school, like Rome, was not going to be built in a day! Before meeting with the School Board to discuss this, the Committee, in consultation with English speaking parents from Outeniqua, decided to suggest an interim measure. On their return the Interim Committee was given two alternatives in regard to the new English School.
They would have to investigate subject options, raise school funds and make recommendations re name, badge, colours etc for the new school. This was refused and official approval of the new English (Grade H2) school was received in a letter from the Board. A letter was written to the School Board suggesting expropriation of erven near the School for a future hostel.
Sixty five suggestions had been received in the “Name the School” Competition and the unanimous choice was “York High School”. For the past six months men on the site had been working 12 hour shifts, putting in 80 hours a week, double the normal time. Because the school lacked many things, everyone was prepared to work hard and unselfishly towards achieving what was needed.
Of particular significance for a new English-medium school was the organization of a Taalfees to celebrate the centenary of the Genootskap van Regte Afrikaners. I feel this tradition must aim at turning out boys and girls who work hard, who can think for themselves, who are honest and God-fearing, well-mannered and considerate. A school always blessed by parents with a “hands-on” approach, they looked now to the “soft” issues within education – the need to bring all participants into partnership in managing the school.
York did not escape unscathed and yet this difficult time brought out the best in the York family – the Right-Sizing Committee addressed its task in a transparent and objective manner and, at the same time, parental support, both moral and material, was very evident. Focus was now brought to bear on the structures and policies governing our school, with new look Vision and Mission Statements providing goals and direction for the school for the immediate future leading up to and past the new Millennium. In answering the question “Describe why you consider your school excellent”, Rob Gee wrote: “York High, the only English-medium state school between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, has provided an outstanding educational programme and achieved excellent academic results, despite in no way being able to “sift” its pupil applicants, losing 6 staff members to the rationalisation programme, and having to cope with a sizable number of families unable to pay school fees. Not only because our school was selected to be one of the Top 100 Schools in the Sunday Times survey of 1998, but because we have embarked upon an innovative academic programme that takes every pupil way beyond the limitations and limits of syllabus and curriculum. Her steadfast work has seen her grow the Association from 38 ladies teams and no junior teams when she took over to a record number 168 teams in 2014 including juniors. This would involve separating the ± 150 English pupils at Outeniqua and housing them with their own staff in the old Manie le Roux building. One of the sources of real concern was the Department’s opinion that very few English-speaking teachers would apply for posts. The winner of the competition was Susan Smith, daughter of Ken Smith who had been so very involved in the struggle to see York established.
One of the hostels of the Outeniqua High School, Huis Volschenk, has been turned over to boarders of the new school.
Though the opinion had been expressed that the English section at Outeniqua High had been difficult to handle, the new York staff found them to be very subdued and reluctant to participate in class discussions. Other schools, George business firms, local sports clubs – all came forward to offer the use of their facilities. They should be self-disciplined, interested in things cultural, physically fit and mentally prepared for the important role they will have to play in the world today. One of the first steps that was taken was the introduction of TOC (Theory of Constraints) training for many staff members and then pupils. Also there is no University on our doorstep as a resource centre and a relatively small business community which must support close to a dozen high schools in the George area. What can we as parents and educators do to stem the tide of selfishness and self-centredness?
Jan was also pivotal in securing the Caroline Springs Leisure Centre for additional competitions in 2008 where the Association has been able to thrive.Jan Schulz is the heart, mind and backbone of the St Albans Caroline Springs Netball Association.
The Principal’s post was to be advertised and no more English pupils would be accepted into Stds 6, 7 and 8 at Outeniqua High. Workmen were still at it until 2 am on Tuesday and later into the night that same day to get the assembly hall fit for the school’s inaugural assembly yesterday morning.
The hostel can house 60 pupils and Mr R Simpson, the school’s Vice Principal, and his wife are in charge.


Only after pointing out that questions and opinions were very welcome provided it was done in a polite manner, did it improve.
The PW Botha Technical High School in particular, being a close neighbour, generously allowed York the use of their tennis courts, cricket nets, athletic field and rugby pitches. We have achieved excellent academic results (10% A aggregates last year and no matric failures over the past 5 years).
What can we do to stimulate the human capacity for compassion and caring in the youth of today?
In one week in October, while our matrics are writing their final exams, every other pupil in the school is involved in an extra-curricular project. A Fairfax article from 2006 quoted Jan as saying ‘You don’t do these things for the recognition.
By November, as there was still no reply, a meeting was arranged with Mr Kritzinger, MPC at the Gelderland Hotel on 20 February 1973.
Inter-town Quiz shows were organised and a variety concert by local performers was held at the Civic Centre. That reputation must be built even further so that the school is attractive to good pupils in the future. Truth, honour, integrity, compassion – these are words that need to be explored and internalised for they should be the very fabric of our society.
Eight teaching posts have been filled and a ninth post is open for a biology teacher, who can also teach English. The first cross country route followed a track towards Pacaltsdorp and then back along the uncompleted national road – a distance of 5 kilometres. All these funds went to buy curtains, crockery, stage equipment, library books and to start the building of a squash court. Our pupils are committed to and involved in leadership and service at all levels – we have an outstanding outreach and service programme. We can teach the next generations of Yorkies the sanctity of the human spirit – the need for standards and values in our everyday lives.
Grade 9s are divided into groups to undertake a fully integrated study of our town, George.
I wouldn’t be there if I didn’t enjoy it.’ It is widely felt that without Jan’s involvement over the years in netball that the St Albans Caroline Springs Netball Association would not be where it is today – players, umpires, coaches and parents truly appreciate all the work she does. The argument by the School Board that the Manie le Roux building was more suited to a Clinic was unacceptable as it had been designed as a school in the first place. School uniforms have not yet been approved, but Mr Dugmore said he did not want to rush this as it was a very important decision. To brighten up the corridors, local artists were asked to donate a painting or sculpture for display at the school. At the cultural level we have produced musical and dramatic events of a very high standard, and on the sports field we have a very pleasing level of pupil participation, provincial achievement and a number of our pupils earning national colours.
Groups research the widest possible spectrum of areas including crime, religion, commerce, entertainment, architecture, industry, history, informal settlements and population. Jo-Ann is the secretary for the Mulwala Football Netball Club (both football and netball) and she also umpires and coaches every week. Mr Kritzinger promised to investigate, asked the Committee to “cool” feelings of the English parents and dumped the matter in the lap of Mr Lubbe, Member of the Executive Council.
We are fortunate to have a highly qualified staff and a concerned parent body which has enabled us to maintain a busy and effective programme. At the end of the week an exhibition is mounted and parents and community leaders can view the results of the research. After supporting the School Board’s view, the MEC decided that the new school must be built as soon as possible. The buildings are made of precast concrete, with the concrete panels being manufactured on the building site. Budding squash players could be seen pedalling out to the George Squash Club courts at the old aerodrome. The first series of photographs highlighting the School year was mounted on a corridor wall.
Our programme is learner-centred, and driven by an enthusiastic team of pupil leaders, staff and parents. Our Grade 10s go to Schoemanspoort past Oudtshoorn and study Karoo and Mountain ecology, birdlife and flora. During 2014, Jo-Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring surgery and 6 weeks of radiation therapy. By the end of the year, five young York pupils had won provincial colours in various sports. York High School has a reputation as a fine school and it is our vision to be the centre of academic excellence in the Southern Cape. They tackle abseiling, diving into mountain pools and hiking through the bush in the dead of night with no torch. However, this did not deter her from continuing to drive this major project.She was subsequently successful in obtaining two grants totalling $80,000 as well as well as a $50,000 interest free loan from the Shire. When the first pupils made their way across the rubble from Meade Street into the new school yesterday morning, it was the culmination of six years of negotiations by English-speaking parents in George to get their own school.
Pupils were encouraged to plant trees and to look after them, and parents began to create a garden. The Grade 11s do four days of “job shadowing” in and around George, where they spend at least 5-6 hours each day observing, learning, questioning and getting first-hand experience in the areas of their chosen careers. Numerous letters and advertising resulted in a further $40,000 of donations and sponsorship being gained with the committee working hard to raise the remaining funds. YES, York High does have a sound academic policy and we do realise that life’s greatest lessons are often learned outside the classroom.
Costs are kept at a minimum to encourage participation.The organising committee of the Association are currently seeking funding to facilitate access and inclusion for all people to further boost participation in the program – this will be in the form of funding to assist with transportation of participants to and from the program. They also provide healthy fruit snacks for the participants before and after training and competitions – all coordinated by volunteers.Kensington Primary NetSetGO began to recruit additional parent helpers to assist with entering teams into the Parkville Netball Competitions Set Competition on a Saturday.
This number includes 120 open ladies teams on a Monday night alone, 45 mixed teams and 260 junior teams.CNA is made up of an eight person Board with all members having valuable experience to contribute to the growth and development of netball in Casey.
The Association employs a competition coordinator, finance officer, development officer and several casual staff to coordinate competitions at additional external venues to cater for the demand of netball in this high growth area.CNA currently has 10 representative squad teams all competing at Netball Victoria competitions and tournaments annually. The Association also supports developing coaches and umpires through several pathways, holding regular accreditation courses and delivering mentoring programs.In 2015, CNA developed a Strategic Plan with the assistance and support of the City of Casey Council, Netball Victoria and Steve Pallas of Sports Community. In 2013, PNA joined forces with the Drysdale Football Netball Club co-leasing and sharing courts and facilities. PNA operates over the Spring and Summer and Drysdale Football Netball Club runs over the Autumn and Winter months. This means netball is available and operating for the local community all year round.PNA targets a different netball community to the Drysdale Football Netball Club by focussing on junior (particularly NetSetGO), social women and mixed netball teams to partake in their competitions and development opportunities.
This form of management is proving highly efficient and contemporary – somewhat of a prototype for other Associations across Victoria to replicate to reduce the workload on our volunteers. Here she also took on the role of Netball Coach and coached this team to State Champions on numerous occasions. She continued her coaching over the years with great success and in 2009 moved to Heyfield where she quickly associated herself with the Heyfield Football Netball Club and took on the A grade coaching position.At present, Heyfield has six netball teams (2 junior and 4 senior).
Comprised of 85 players ranging from NetSetGO through to seniors, 2015 has seen the finalisation of a nine-year safety initiative and infrastructure improvement plan for the club which has been made possible by a hard working committee. The Birchip-Watchem Netball Club is dedicated to reviewing, maintaining and upgrading their facilities to ensure that the National standards are being met.The club has recently been acknowledged for participating in the VicHealth Healthy Sporting Environments program. The Club says it is committed to ensuring their netball facilities and practises are safe for everyone to enjoy the game of netball. The Mulwala Football Netball Club is part of the Murray League Competition and fields 8 netball teams comprised of 80+ girls each week. The club embarked upon a major fundraising drive combined with a number of grant applications to improve their courts and facilities.



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