Parents not applying in time for places at schools for children

DESPITE admissions for next year having already closed, most Nelson Mandela Bay school principals still expect parents to approach them with the hope of securing space for their children in the new year.

The schools reported that they had completed their admissions for next year during the second term and already had lists of pupils waiting for a spot to open. St Thomas High School principal Gregory Appollis said the school had accepted 190 pupils for Grade 8 and already had 20 more on its waiting list.

“In the event of any of those 190 pupils transferring to other schools or telling us that they no longer require a spot, we will refer to our waiting list,” he said.

“We also expect parents to come to school on the first day of school looking for space, but we usually advise them to go to the Department of Education.”

Victoria Park High School principal Mike Vermaak said: “We have already had to turn a good number of pupils down because we have limited space and we already have a good number on our waiting list.”

He said he also expected parents to turn up on the first day of the new term.

“Our admissions usually close at the end of April and we can only take a very limited number of Grade 8s, which is based on our staff establishment for the next year,” Vermaak said.

Cowan High School principal Trevor Dolley said the school had also completed its admissions during the second term and now had 25 pupils on its waiting list.

“We try to be flexible and accommodate pupils, but sometimes we cannot.

“We look at the merits of the cases. For example if a pupil has had to relocate due to difficult circumstances or a death then we try our best,” he said.

“My advice is for parents to apply to at least three schools for their children to be safe.”

Abraham Levy Primary School principal Christine Haggard said the school always finalised its admissions in the second term and did not accept pupils on a waiting list.

“When admissions are completed, we put notices outside the school informing parents that the school is full and unable to accommodate any more pupils. But we do see parents on the first day looking for space.”

Haggard said it was important for parents applying to multiple schools to inform the other schools not to keep a spot for the child if they were planning to go elsewhere.

She said the school prioritised its own Grade R classes for Grade 1 before accepting outside children.

Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said he was aware of the issue of parents approaching schools on the first day.

“The schools have a valid concern and for the past five years the department has had an advocacy programme where we go out of our way to set out admission guidelines for schools,” he said.

But he said some parents had legitimate concerns because after multiple applications they had not been able to secure a spot at a school.

“The majority want their children at former Model C schools, but there is limited space and these schools look to their feeder schools and at their closest communities first.

“Most schools start admissions during June and July. We want to appeal to parents to finalise admissions before the end of the school year,” Pulumani said.

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