Willowridge High School (Pretoria)

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Willowridge High School
518 Verkenner Avenue,
The Willows

Pretoria, South Africa
Coordinates 25°45′36″S 28°18′51″E / 25.7601°S 28.3141°E / -25.7601; 28.3141Coordinates: 25°45′36″S 28°18′51″E / 25.7601°S 28.3141°E / -25.7601; 28.3141
School type Public school
Motto "Strive with Integrity"
Established 1987
Authority Gauteng Department of Education
Mr. Du Plessis Headmaster
Staff approx. 60 full-time
Number of students about 1000 pupils
School color(s) Blue, Red and White

Willowridge High School, is a public, English medium co-ed high school located in The Willows, Pretoria, in the Gauteng province of South Africa.

Willowridge High School is a diverse school and has learners partaking in the fields of: Sport, Academics, Leadership and Culture.

History of The School[edit]

Willowridge High is an excellent school with excelling ideas and many talented young people who have excelled in an environment which has nurtured enthusiasm, friendship and a pioneering spirit.

It has built this ethos on the lives of four prominent South Africans who were associated with Pretoria East and the early development of the Transvaal. Its four school houses are named after them and its house badges are extracts of their original family crests.

The first of these, in historical sequence, Harry Struben, is remembered as a pioneer on the gold fields. In 1860, he started a transport business between the old ZAR capital and Natal. With the profits from this business, he bought a farm, The Willows, at that time far to the east of Pretoria.

Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, another prominent person, was also a pioneer on the Gold Reef in the early days. He published Jock of the Bushveld in 1907. He became Member of Parliament for Pretoria East in 1910. During his political career, both in the ZAR and under the Union, he strove to unite English speakers. Education was one of his many interests, and he was among those who raised funds for the founding of the University of the Witwatersrand in 1921.

Sir Thomas Cullinan, the third prominent person, was a pioneer of diamond-mining in the Transvaal. He came to South Africa in 1903 at the request of Sir Alfred Milner. Milner had written to the London Board of Education asking for several capable young men who would help to re-organise education in the Transvaal.

It was Sir John Adamson’s task to try to reconcile the conflicting interests of Boer and Briton through education. This Englishman, who became a Transvaaler by adoption and learnt to speak Dutch, played no small part in laying foundations for education in our Province. He was as much a pioneer as any of those successful prospectors who found gold or diamonds in the old days. The school has taken encouragement from this example as it reaches out the hand of education to children of all races in its community.

As early as the start of 1985 a Vigilance Committee was elected at a meeting of prospective parents. Having been named the watchdogs, they monitored the progress of the new school, while the buildings started taking shape on the site that once had been a farm. It was due to their efforts that the school cottage and the trees, which give the school its restful country atmosphere, were saved from the bulldozer.

The Committee's activities were, however, also directed at creating an ethos for their new school and establishing a fundamental philosophy. The school opened its doors on Wednesday 7 January 1987 to welcome the first 187 pupils in Forms One and Two. During the first term the name Willowridge High School became official and a badge needed to be designed.

The Coat of Arms was approved by the Bureau of Heraldry in 1988 and depicts the name of the school and its inherent philosophy. The shape is that of a spade symbolising the pioneering spirit with which the school was started. The two willow trees standing on the ridge, nurturing and protecting the Tudor Rose as it blossoms represent the name of the school.

The willow trees represent growth from the firm foundations of the ridge and symbolise the parent and teacher, while the Tudor rose identifies our English heritage and symbolises the child at its blossoming stage of development.

The centre of the rose depicts the child’s potential being developed, while the five barbed seeds represent the five facets of the child’s development, namely the spiritual, the academic, the cultural, the physical and social development.

The triad formed by the two willow trees and the Tudor Rose further depicts the protective, nurturing role of the home and school in the education of the child.

The school motto, "Strive with integrity", and the school song cemented into words the ethos of the school and the symbolic nature of its coat of arms. The words of our school song came from the pupils, while Mrs Grobler, the grandmother of the Smith family, composed the final melody.

The first Headmaster Eddie Penzhorn who came to Willowridge High from The Glen High School, had to face more than is expected of other headmasters: He first had to create a school before he could run it. Out of a wilderness of needs he found textbooks, equipment, desks, chairs, sports-fields, staff and pupils and moulded them into the modern school it has become.

In 1991, the second Headmaster Jack Birkenbach was appointed. After a year in office he confidently reflected upon the host of individual achievements pupils at Willowridge High had attained in such a short time. It was acknowledged that national and provincial honours are necessarily second to the academic results: Apart from the number of pupils who have passed with four or more distinctions in Matric, the Headmaster was proudest of a 100% matric pass-rate achieved.

In 2005, the third Headmaster Mr Andre du Plessis was appointed.


Academic learning is the first responsibility of the school.

  • Willowridge High School has maintained close to 100% Matric Pass Rate over the past twelve years.
  • Willowridge High School's University and Provisional University Entrance Rate is reliably over 70%.
  • Willowridge High School awards close to five hundred academic certificates of achievement at Valedication and Honours Evenings each year.
  • Willowridge High School's student-educator ratio is one of the lowest in Pretoria with the Governing Body employing more than 20 teachers to complement the posts given to them by the Gauteng Department of Education. It is committed to keeping class sizes to an average of 30:1.

Willowridge High School offers various subjects including:

  • English
  • Afrikaans
  • Sepedi
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematical Literacy
  • Physical Science
  • Information Technology
  • Computer Application Technology (CAT)
  • Economics
  • Economical Management Sciences
  • Life Orientation
  • Business Studies
  • History
  • Geography
  • Tourism
  • Natural Science
  • Visual Art (Art)
  • Design
  • Civil (Woodwork)
  • Life Sciences (Biology)
  • Hospitality Studies (Hotel)
  • Dramatic Arts (Drama)
  • Technology
  • Sport Science
  • Accounting
  • Design


Sport is compulsory for junior students but not the seniors. At Willowridge High School commitment to a various type of sport means 100% commitment. For the grade 8 students of the school it is compulsory to attend most of the sport meetings as spectator-supporters.

Sporting facilities include netball facilities, rugby union facilities and cricket facilities, a 25 metre swimming pool, athletics grounds, gym, several tennis and netball courts, a basketball court (outdoor), a rock-climbing wall and hockey fields. The School offers the following sports:

Willowridge High School is part of the Pretoria English Medium High Schools Athletics Association (PEMHSAA) which is good spirited rivalry between all the Co-Ed Government Schools in Pretoria. The Schools have three meetings held a year including the: Swimming Gala (held at Hillcrest Swimming Pool), Cross Country (held at the host school) and an Athletics meeting held at Pilditch Stadium. Other schools participating in PEMHSAA are:


At Willowridge High School there are two different types of leadership positions within the school: RCL and ECl

RCL & ECL[edit]

Every year in October the students from each of the grades democratically vote for students who they think will do well in/on the council. The council is divided into many different groups each for how they want to benefit the community.


At Willowridge High School pride is taken in all cultural activities. The school has an excellent dramatic arts department and art department who annually produce excellent works of art. The school song is sung twice a week at Assembly's on a Monday and Friday.

The School Song[edit]

"With a spirit of devotion in our heart and mind and soul
We will honour our name and emblem as we strive to meet our goal.
Willowridge, we'll serve our Country and to men both great and small
We’ll extend our hand of friendship, practice tolerance to all.
Truth and honesty and friendship, increase as we all grow
And all our talents we will further, as through life we go.
Willowridge, we’ll try our utmost academically and at sport,
In the true pursuit of knowledge may enlightenment be sought.
we’ll be brave and we’ll stand taller, and strive with one accord
To be humble and obedient, and faithful to the Lord.
Truth and honesty and friendship, increase as we all grow
and all our talents we will further, as through life we go."

External links[edit]