New head takes over at Ferndale Primary

New principal of Ferndale Primary School, Jacky De Kock, with some of her pupils.

When Jacky De Kock took over the reigns as the new principal at Ferndale Primary School, in Ottery, she said her aim was to put the “best school in the universe on the map.”

Ms De Kock, 50, kick-started the year with a clean sweep, by clearing the school yard, trimming the trees and mowing the lawn.

The former Bergvliet Primary School teacher took over from Arthur Lewis this year.

Her goal was always to improve her community whether it was as a teacher in the classroom or outside it.

“My aim is for children to be happy, confident and to feel safe in the school environment no matter what the circumstances are.”

Her teaching career began in 1991 when she started teaching at Strandfontein High School. “I’ve moved around the peninsula and in 2008 I became head of department (HOD) at Silverlea Primary School, in Athlone. I also taught at Zonnebloem Girls for three years, then at Bergvliet Primary.”

She said teaching children from a range of backgrounds gave her a good perspective on the city. “I was able to see different areas, different contexts and different challenges.”

And it took her 10 years to get to Ferndale Primary.

She thanked the children and staff of Ferndale for their support.

“They enabled me to come to a community where I can give off my experience and expertise”

She said she settled in well, “all thanks to the previous principal and staff”.

Ms De Kock said she came to Ferndale Primary during its 125th year anniversary. She was planning her first parents’ meeting when Southern Mail visited her, on Thursday January 17.

She said it was important that the parents know the history of the school.

“The school’s origin can be traced back to a wood and iron structure known as the ‘school house’ registered with the Cape School Board in 1894 as Wynberg Flats School.”

Teacher Ms Rudkin, was appointed to teach mainly German speaking children from the Philippi and Ottery farming communities. Pupils between the ages of five and 14 years were taught in the same classroom while sitting on the floor. Ms Rudkin became principal in 1909.

During World War I, the first school building was built which consisted of two classrooms and a small staff room. The toilets were outbuildings, the playground consisted of sand, weeds and Port Jackson trees. The two teachers who taught in the new school building were Ms Lawrence and Ms Swartz.

In 1919, Mr Humphries became the new principal. He was succeeded by Mr Enslin in 1926. Mr Thys du Toit became the principal in 1944 and it was during this decade that Wynberg Flats Public School’s name was changed to Ottery Primary which was a dual-medium school, with classes taught in Afrikaans and English. During Mr Van Rensburg’s term as principal from 1954 to 1962, the school building was enlarged to cater for the growing number of pupils who lived in the Ottery development. In 1962 a Foundation Phase wing with special classes and new toilets were added. This was completed during the years when Mr Swiegelaar (1963 to 1980) was the principal.

In 1981, Mr Oosthuizen became the principal and in 1982 Ottery Primary School officially became Ferndale Primary. In 1983 the first pre-primary class and tennis courts were added.

During this decade, seven prefabricated classrooms and a garage were erected, In 1987 steps were taken to amalgamate Springfield Primary in Philippi with Ferndale Primary. At the end of 1987 Springfield Primary closed its doors and Ferndale Primary grew.

In 1991, Ferndale Primary become a Model-C school and pupils of all races were enrolled in the previously “white” school. In 1994 four new classrooms were built.

In 1996, Mr Watkins became the principal. The 1990s also saw the shrinking of the Afrikaans medium classes. By 2000, Ferndale Primary became an English medium school.

In 2005, now retired principal, Mr Lewis, was appointed.

Ms De Kock said she was delighted and proud to be able to introduce herself, as the new head at Ferndale Primary. “In my first couple of days, I have been made to feel really welcome by all of the children and staff. I am very excited about working in partnership with the whole community.”

Born in Port Elizabeth, she lived there until matric and then attended the University of Western Cape (UWC). “I had lived and worked in Cape Town for many years and I’m thrilled to be given the opportunities to play a key role in shaping the education and raising the aspirations of our young people.

“Working together as a team, myself, the Board of Governors and the staff aim to provide a supportive and caring environment, inspirational teaching,upgraded technology and resources, concentrating on embedding the basic skills, while engaging and motivating our children through enrichment activities, to be the best they
possibly can be,” said Ms De Kock.

“We have an aspiration for all our children that through their school journey they will fulfill their academic potential and become successful lifelong pupils. In addition, we endeavor that our children will possess high levels of both social and emotional intelligence so that they are well placed to succeed and thrive in the future, becoming active and productive members of society,” said Ms De Kock.