Top High School Principal And Accounting Teacher Groom High School Learners to National Stardom: What Next?

, 16 February 2018


You are the admired School Principal of Westville Boys' High School; the very same school that produced The CFO Junior 2017 and inaugural champions. How do you feel about this achievement?

This is a wonderful achievement for our team, and it is particularly special, given the demanding challenge of this unique competition and the tough competition they faced. However, knowing the individuals in the team as I do -as independent thinkers and self-starters, I had the feeling that they would do well.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Qualifications, past work experience and what motivated you to go into education?

I was originally undecided between a career in Accounting and Teaching. After getting my feet wet for a few years in the Accounting profession, I decided that Teaching was more appropriate for me. In 1980, an Accounting teaching post became available at my alma mater, Westville Boys’ High School, and I have been here since then. This was never the plan, but promotions and opportunities opened up both at the school level and in the examination structures of the Department of Education (DoE) and Independent Exams Board (IEB). This, together with the international links of the School, kept me stimulated, and helped me to gain a big picture perspective of education.

How does your school strive for excellence?

Our school motto is "Incepto Ne Desistam", which means ‘May I not shrink from my purpose’. This is all about resilience. The high achievers of this world, irrespective of their talent, are those who 

have goals and ‘stay the course’ in working towards them. We keep stressing that fact. Fortunately, we have many prime examples of old boys who have achieved excellence in this way. For example, Chad le Clos did not win an Olympic Gold Medal because he is a talented swimmer – he won it because he had a goal and put 10 000 hours into achieving it. Examples such as these serve as great motivation to our boys.

Why was it important for your students to enter The CFO Junior Case Study Competition 2017?

Acquiring Knowledge is important, but in this millennium, there are other skills that are crucial in achieving success, for example: the skills of leading by positive influence, thinking creatively and being creative, critically evaluating the mass of information available, and respecting and considering opposing points of view. It was not like this in ‘the good old days’. The CFO Junior Case Study Competition reinforces these 21st century skills.

The competition is pitched at a global standard and challenges High School students to think at that level - to execute the teachings of the current school curriculum. How does the competition align with your school's curriculum?

I think all good teachers aim to take their students beyond the curriculum. The Curriculum (CAPS) assessed by the three examining bodies (i.e. DBE, IEB and SACAI) has generally been bench-marked favourably with that of other overseas examining bodies. However, this competition fills a vital gap in enabling students to connect their theoretical knowledge with the practical world of work.

The timing of the competition is quite challenging too, how did you ensure you prioritized the competition and school work at the same time and what skills did this demand from the students?

The demands placed on our students these days are considerable. We expect our boys to be involved in a range of activities covering academics, sport, the performing and visual arts, service activities, and leadership roles. There is very little down time in a congested school year. Managing one’s time under stress is a sign of the times, and many of our high achieving students cope with this very well. Given the demands of the Grade 12 NSC exams, it is appropriate that this competition is offered to Grade 11 students.

What support did you give the students given the magnitude of the competition; to what extent were parents involved?

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Note From the Managing Editor - February 2018 Issue