From left to right: Belinda Caldis, Liesel Visagie, Alison Templar.
On 15 January 2020, Camps Bay Primary School welcomed the Reception Grade Class of 2020 to their new Reception Grade Campus which is situated in The Drive, Camps Bay – directly opposite the existing Foundation Phase Campus of Camps Bay Primary School.
The new campus includes 3 classrooms, a hall, toilets, aftercare room, a large play area, a sports field, a kitchen, an office and storage facilities.
Said Camps Bay Primary School’s outgoing SGB Chair, Vanessa September, “This project is the culmination of many years of commitment and hard work, much of which was done on a pro-bono basis by current and past parents and interested parties. We are so grateful to all those who persisted through all the challenges to make the vision of this expansion project a reality.”
Back in 2010, Camps Bay Preparatory School’s then Principal, Nancy Rousoppolous, recognised that the small community school of Camps Bay Preparatory was growing rapidly with increased demand, and was bursting at the seams. Play areas at the school were small. The school had grown from five classes to nine in order to satisfy the needs of the wider community.
Mrs Rousoppoulous approached the Camps Bay Bowling Club regarding the possibility of sub-leasing some of their parking area for use as a play area. The bowlers were not amenable to this suggestion.
A group of parents, which included Fiona Hart, Suzanne Maier, Michele Harvey and Sandy van Hoogstraten started a group called the Concerned Parent Group and they approached the Western Cape Education Department and the MEC for Education, Minister Debbie Schafer, for assistance.
The Minister said: “Sadly, too many children in the Western Cape don’t have access to safe spaces where they can learn and play. So when an opportunity to increase an existing educational space arises, we need to grab that opportunity with both hands.”
An application to rezone the land for educational purposes was made which took a few years to complete as there were multiple court challenges. Terry Winstanley, Nic Traverso and Eduard Fagan SC worked tirelessly for the school on the matter, on a pro-bono basis.
Said September, “The funding of this expansion project was made possible by the generosity of generations of parents who gave lump sum donations and through years of fundraising activities, which the school then saved in a special account for many years. The school did not need to borrow money to pay for this renovation and it did not receive any funding from the WCED.”
Over the years, many friends and parents of Camps Bay Primary School ensured that this has become a reality including:
- The SGB of the Preparatory School with Tania Garde as chairperson, who kept the application to expand the Preparatory Campus alive .
- Colin and Michele Harvey who spent many hours planning the best use of the precinct.
- Sandy van Hoogstraten and Ian Liddle who played a key role in the campaign to provide more space for the children, and were directly involved from the beginning including the year in which Ian was chairperson of the SGB.
Vanessa September took over as Chair of the Camps Bay Primary School SGB in 2018 and she used her extensive architectural knowledge and experience, together with a very competent professional team and building contractor, to finally make the dream a reality.
The plans to renovate the old precinct were eventually submitted in 2018 and building began in July 2019. The build was completed on time within budget by the end of 2019 and the first children started in the new classrooms in 2020.
Said September, “Minister Schafer has been a big part of this project from the early days. Her persistence ensured that WCED could get a lease agreement with the City of Cape Town for the school to use. Thank you, Minister for being so immensely supportive of the school and for all that you do to bring quality education to the children of our province.”
Said Acting Principal for Camps Bay Primary School, Liesel Visagie, “The plan is now to further develop the site with the addition of another three classrooms so that we can once again offer Pre-Reception at Camps Bay Primary School. In order to do this we will need to raise more funds and so the process begins again! Our current co-heads of the Camps Bay Primary School Parents Association, Gillian Pringle and Laura Chella Pronk have, with the assistance of Jaxon Hsu and Rowena Quinan, put together a very unique fundraising concept. Those wishing to get involved can discover how they can contribute at www.growinghappiness.co.za.”
Photo credit: Catherine Crane – Grade 11 pupil at Camps Bay High School