Bridge House School
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|Bridge House School|
|Motto||Learning for Life|
|Grades||0000 - 12|
|Number of students||800 boys and girls|
|School color(s)||Navy, white and royal blue|
Bridge House School, commonly referred to as Bridge House, is situated in the Cape Winelands close to Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl, and is an independent day and boarding school for over eight hundred girls and boys from Playschool to Grade 12 . Bridge House is a member of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA), the International Round Square Organisation. The School motto is “Learning for Life”.
- 1 History
- 2 Campus and buildings
- 3 Curriculum
- 4 Modern technology
- 5 Wider classroom activities
- 6 Pupil leadership
- 7 Cultural activities
- 8 Houses
- 9 Sports and sporting events
- 10 Former heads
- 11 Notable teachers/faculty/staff
- 12 Alumni
- 13 Management structure
- 14 References
Bridge House was founded by a group of local families, namely the Huxter, Friedman and Rands families, as a non-profit company and opened its doors on the 19th of January 1995 with 54 pupils. The school was originally based in a state school building in Simondium until 1997. Rezoning applications were brought forth and approved for the school to occupy new premises in the Berg River Valley on the Waterval Farm. In July 1998 the school relocated to the new and larger campus situated on a 10-hectare site; an undeveloped corner of farm near the Berg River Bridge donated by the late Graham Beck in 1994, ten kilometres outside Franschhoek. Bridge House currently owns 28 hectares of land after receiving an additional donated 18 hectares.
Campus and buildings
In 1999, the swimming pool, shallow pool and tennis courts were added, followed by the indoor sports centre. The 450-seating capacity Barnyard Theater was built in 2002 and became operational during 2003. A new College block, with seven classrooms, administrative offices and a College staff room was added. The College block was further expanded in 2009 with additional classrooms. The first boarding house, Bellegam House, became operational in the third term of 2004 with Waterfall House added in 2008, doubling the boarding capacity. The Renaissance Centre, housing six new classrooms and the ‘Learning Commons’, was completed in November 2013. Huguenot House, the third boarding house, was completed at the end of 2013, increasing total boarding capacity to one hundred and forty boarders. In the third term of 2015, the preprimary building and facilities became occupied by one Playschool class and all the Pre-primary children. In the second term of 2016 a hockey Astroturf was completed along with the construction of a Mathematics and Science Centre and Science and Biology laboratories, which came into operation in January 2017. Construction of a fourth boarding house was completed in 2017.
Bridge House is an English-medium school. English Home Language is taught to all pupils. Afrikaans (First Additional Language) classes are streamed according to ability. French and German (at second additional language level) are offered as elective subjects in Grades 10, 11 and 12 and for immigrant students in place of Afrikaans in Grade 8 and 9.
These vary according to age group, but all classes commence at 08h00 am.
Bridge House caters for 2 – 4 year olds at its playschool on the Bridge House Campus. The Playschool building which has well-equipped classrooms and outdoor equipment. The programme is structured according to best practice for Early Childhood Learning, and there is a favourable adult/child ratio, with a teacher and assistant per group.
This phase at Bridge House has three classes from 5 – 6 years of age in Grade 0 and two classes of 4 – 5 year olds in Grade 00.
- Information Technology /coding
- Music Education
The curriculum is outcomes-based and aligned to the National Curriculum Statement of South Africa. Under the learning areas of Languages, Mathematics and Life Skills, the following subjects are introduced:
- English Literacy
- Conversational Afrikaans
- Conversational isiXhosa
- Social and Natural Sciences themes within an Integrated Studies approach
- Physical Education
- Creative Arts which incorporates Class Music, Drama and Art,
- Information Technology
Junior Primary class sizes are kept to a maximum of 24 per class and are co-ed as well as mixed ability.
The curriculum is aligned to the South African national guidelines. Only at Grade 7 level do children write formal exams. Classes do not exceed 24 pupils. Academic support is given by teachers as part of the weekly programme.
English is taught as First (Home) Language. Afrikaans is taught as a First Additional Language, but is offered as Advanced, Standard or Intensive classes.
Subject areas covered:
- Economic Management Sciences
- Computer Skills
IsiXhosa is conversational, and offered up to Grade 9.
Students in Grades 8 and 9 follow a newly revised and restructured curriculum which is aimed at increased personalisation and a sense of personal choice and investment.
Bridge House Matric students write the Independent Examinations Board Matric exams. In Grades 10, 11 and 12 the school offer the following subjects:
- Advanced Programme English
- English Home Language
- Afrikaans – First Additional Language
- Advanced Programme Mathematics
- Mathematical Literacy
- Life Orientation
- Dramatic Arts
- Physical Sciences
- Life Sciences
- Visual Arts
- Computer Applications Technology
- Information Technology
Educational Support Unit
The Prep ESU includes an on-site speech therapist, 2 specialist remedial/support teachers, and an occupational therapist.
The Educational Support Unit (ESU) based in the College offers academic, social, emotional and behavioral support to all College pupils. An Educational Psychologist and a NiLD Educational Therapist are available to consult with pupils on a one-to-one basis, as well as in small group formats where peer support and learning is encouraged.
The school has introduced a 1:1 iPad programme, from the beginning of January 2016.
Wider classroom activities
Camps and outings
All classes go on outings to places of interest. These trips form part of the compulsory educational curriculum.
Each pupil from Grade 1 to Matric is required to attend an away camp during the year.
In Grade 7 and Grade 10, a Basic First Aid and Life Saving course forms part of the curriculum.
The school is involved in many community partnerships. One such partnership is the Phillippolis Community Partnership where Grade 10s and 11s can participate in a service project in Philippolis.
A number of Grade 10s from Bridge House participate in International Exchanges to countries all over the world e.g. Thailand, India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Germany, Denmark, the UK and Peru.
Bridge House was accepted as a full member of Round Square at the International Conference at Gordonstoun in 2006. Round Square is a world-wide association of more than 80 schools on five continents.
Schools belonging to Round Square are guided by the following ‘IDEALS’: • International understanding • Democracy • Environment • Adventure • Leadership • Service
Grade 7 pupils are encouraged to sign up for the Learning for Life Leadership Programme developed by Chris Storey, a previous Head of the Prep.
The programme promotes high levels of initiative, self-motivation and accountability,
Every term the students elect representatives from each class to stand on the SRC (Students’ Representative Council) which is coordinated and led by the executive of the Students’ Leadership Council.
The Students’ Leadership Council is elected annually by the pupils and is made up of an elected executive consisting of eight Grade 12 pupils, six House Captains, a boys’ head of boarding and a girls’ head of boarding. The Executive is elected by the student body after the candidates have publicised their campaigns by putting up posters around the school and have delivered a campaign speech in front of the school. The staff act only as electoral officers and do not have a vote.
The basis of the cultural programme of Bridge House is mainly Music, Art, and Drama. Bridge House offers individual tuition for music learners in the following disciplines, either as an extra mural activity, or as a curriculum subject:
- Electronic keyboard
- Guitar (electric and acoustic)
- French horn
All Students are exposed to various styles of the Arts and Drama. These form part of the curriculum from Grade 8, and are available as elective subjects from grade 10 to 12. There is considerable emphasis on cultural education and college students are also offered the opportunity to go on international cultural tours.
There are three houses at Bridge House: Helios, Olympia and Alexandria. Every new student is assigned a house in which they stay until Grade 12. The three houses compete in inter-house tournaments such as swimming, athletics, rugby, water polo, hockey and netball. The house captains take responsibility for the running of the houses under the supervision of a teacher who serve as the head of house.
Sports and sporting events
Participation at College level is compulsory to all learners. A number of National tours are undertaken during the course of the year in both Preparatory School and College. Overseas tours are considered every second year for College learners. The following sports are offered at Preparatory and College level:
- Field hockey
- Indoor hockey
- Water Polo
- Mountain Biking
Various sports festivals are hosted annually at Bridge House. The Bridge House Mile is an open water swim event organized annually by the school and held on the Berg river dam.
Lloyd Smuts (Head of school): 1994 - 1997 Allan Graham (Head of school): 1997 - 2002 Chris Storey (Head of the Prep School): 1998 - 2007 Anne van Zyl (Head of school and College): 2002 - 2010 Melvin King (Head of the Prep School): 2007 - 2014. In January 2010 Mike Russel (Head of school and College): 2010 – present Marc Barrow (Head of the Prep School): 2014 - present
Anne van Zyl, Head of the school from 2002 until 2010, was appointed as Head of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in 2010. Melvin King, Head of the Prep from 2007 until 2014, was appointed as Head of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in 2014.
Bridge House Past Pupils’ Association (BHPPA) for Alumni creates a network of contacts and, in future, to serve on the Bridge House Educational Foundation Trust. Students who matriculate at Bridge House receive a tie (for boys) and a scarf (for girls) as a symbol of Alumni status.
The School is governed by a fifteen-member Board of Directors. The Bridge House Education Foundation is a trust that owns the school property and its buildings. The Trust is made up of a Founding Trustee, Independent Trustees and four Parent Trustees.