Fairbairn College

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Fairbairn College
Fairbairn College badge in colour.jpg
Goodwood, Cape Town, South Africa
Type Public high school
Motto Veritas et Integritas
(Truthfulness and Integrity)
Established 1 October 1976
Staff Mr B Marchand (Headmaster)
Enrollment approx 1000 learners
Information admin@fairbairncollege.com
Colours Navy blue and pale blue

Fairbairn College is a public, co-educational high school in the suburb of Goodwood in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.


Bust of John Fairbairn in hall foyer

The Goodwood/Vasco English-medium High School was founded on 1 October 1976 with the appointment of Mr CE de Wet as Headmaster. The deputy principal and secretary were temporarily accommodated in the board room of the Parow School Board until completion of the administrative section of the College in January 1977.

The Opening Assembly was held on 19 January 1977 with a staff of nineteen teachers and 356 pupils. In the first year, Fairbairn catered for Standards 6, 7 and 8 pupils. The majority of Standards 7 and 8 pupils were enrolled from the nearby JG Meiring High School.

Fairbairn was officially inaugurated a year later, on 24 February 1978, by Dr PS Meyer, Director of Education of the Cape Province.

At the first meeting on 28 March 1977, the School Committee unanimously decided to name the school Fairbairn College.[1] However, the Parow School Board and Cape Education Department overruled their decision, approving instead the name Fairbairn High School. The School was named after John Fairbairn who was invited to the Cape by Thomas Pringle to start a school for the children of the 1820 Settlers.[2] After Fairbairn was declared a Model C state-aided school, the Governing Body, on 23 November 1992, unanimously resolved to use its new powers to change the name to Fairbairn College.[3] The Cape Education Department was informed of this decision and the name was changed in the official records on 11 February 1993.

Main entrance


Mr CE de Wet BA,STC, Founder Headmaster
  • 1 October 1976 - 30 September 1983 Mr CE de Wet
  • 1 October 1983 - 30 June 1998 Mr RK Weatherdon
  • 1 January 1999 - 31 December 2001 Mrs SL van Zyl
  • 1 July 2002 - present Mr B Marchand

Learning areas offered[edit]

Grade Learning Area
8 & 9 Afrikaans 1st Additional Language
Afrikaans 2nd Additional Language
Arts & Culture
Economic & Management Sciences
English Home Language
Human & Social Sciences
Life Orientation
Natural Sciences
Grade Learning Area
10, 11 & 12 Accounting
Afrikaans 1st Additional Language
Business Studies
Computer Applications Technology
Consumer Studies
English Home Language
Life Orientation
Life Sciences
Mathematical Literacy
Physical Sciences


Extramural facilities include a swimming pool, three rugby fields, four cricket fields, five cricket nets, three hockey fields, one astro field, four netball courts, nine tennis courts, two squash courts, a change-room complex and a club house.

The fields, Aurora, Chapman, Nautilus, Osborn and Weymouth, were named for five of the Government Settler Scheme ships that brought the 1820 Settlers to the Cape.[4]

Big Walk[edit]

Funds raised by learners during 2011 "Big Walk"

The Big Walk was instituted at Fairbairn College in the days when schools received their basic funding from the State but had to rely on voluntary contributions from parents for any “extras”.

The funds raised by the Big Walk in the past made it possible for the school to install a swimming pool, build the squash courts and Club House, erect six additional tennis courts and develop three hockey and three rugby fields. The installation of the first computer centre at Faibairn, in 1998, was made possible by the Big Walk.

The School Governing Body budgets for an income from the Big Walk. If the Big Walk was discontinued, the annual per capita school fees would have to be increased.

The Big Walk has acquired an additional importance. It helps to build school and class spirit. Learners get to know their teachers in an informal setting whilst out collecting money.

To promote class spirit and to motivate the learners, the Big Walk is run as a competition.

The total raised by the learners in 2011 was R413 827.64

House system[edit]

Fairbairn operates a comprehensive intramural or interhouse competition. The aims of the house system are to encourage a spirit of friendly competition and sportsmanship within the College, involve as many learners as possible, especially those who are not good enough at sport to be chosen for inter-school events, build up the Esprit de Corps of the College and create positions of leadership for learners and thereby promote their personal growth. To this end, the school is divided into three houses.

The houses to which learners are allocated are Grey (White), Somerset (Blue) and Napier (Red). The houses are named after Sir George Grey, Lord Charles Somerset and Sir George Thomas Napier, British governors of the Cape Colony in the 1800s.

The highlight of the year is the Interhouse Athletics Competition comprising track and field events. This together with the Swimming Gala is held in the first term.

In addition to competitions in all the major sports (including: hockey, rugby, netball and chess), an interhouse quiz, in which every learner participates, is held in the third term.

The House Flags[edit]

Grey House Napier House Somerset House
Grey House flag at Fairbairn College.jpg Napier House flag at Fairbairn College.jpg Somerset House flag at Fairbairn College.jpg

Extramural activities[edit]


Summer: Cricket, Tennis, Swimming, Water polo
Winter: Hockey, Rugby, Tennis, Squash


Summer: Tennis, Swimming, Water polo
Winter: Hockey, Netball, Tennis, Squash

Girls also have an option to become cricket scorers.

Cultural activities[edit]

Choir, Drama, Chess, Debating, Music ensemble groups

College Choir[edit]

In 1977, shortly after the foundation of the school, a mixed choir was founded which quickly became, and remains, the cultural showpiece of Fairbairn. In its early years, the choir performed radio broadcasts as well as performing for the Goodwood community, in churches, eisteddfods and pageants.

As early as 1979 the College Choir made its first recording. This was either a tape or a long playing record. In 2004, the choir, accompanied by the school organ and orchestra, recorded a CD.

It has become tradition for the choir to perform "The Hallelujah Chorus" at the Founders’ Day service in February each year. It has also become custom for Past Pupils who were choir members to join the choir on Founders’ Day.

The Servant Song by Richard Gilliard has been sung by the choir at funerals of educators and learners.

The choir’s premier performance is on the first and second day of the fourth term at Prize Giving. On the third day it has to perform at the Valedictory Service without the matrics. The result is that, at that time of the year, the Choir Director is in effect running two choirs. The singing of Fill the World with Love from the film Goodbye Mr Chips is guaranteed to bring a tear to many an eye. As the matrics leave the CE de Wet Hall for the last time, the Choir leads the congregation in singing God Be With You Till We Meet Again.

Carol Service[edit]

A Carol Service, of one hour duration, is held in the CE de Wet Hall on the second last day of the academic year. The choir files into the darkened hall bearing candles and singing Once in Royal David's City.[5] The programme is interspersed with Bible readings, prayers, congregational singing and choir and solo performances. The performance of O Holy Night is always memorable.

College song[edit]

In June 1980, Mrs Bruwer, Head of Music, was in Salisbury, England with her family. Mr de Wet, the founder Headmaster, asked her to try to find a school song for Fairbairn while she was in England.

One evening she was sitting in Salisbury Cathedral and the gentleman sitting next to her introduced himself as the Reverend Hugh Blenkin. When she told him about her mission to find a school song, he offered to write it.[6] The words were written by the Reverend Hugh Blenkin and the music composed by Mrs Bruwer.

The College song was sung for the first time in March 1981.

30th Anniversary[edit]

The 30th anniversary of the founding of Fairbairn College was celebrated during 2007. The highlight of the celebrations was the Founders’ Day assembly on Friday, 23 February. Mr Cameron Dugmore, then Western Cape Minister of Education, was the guest speaker during the assembly.

On Saturday, 24 February, a formal dinner was held in the CE de Wet Hall for staff, governing body members, principals of surrounding schools, education officials, and friends of the school. Mr Barry Volschenk, Director of EMDC Metropole North, was the guest speaker. The guests were also treated to a Power Point presentation on the history of the school.

A special lapel badge, seen alongside, was presented to every learner and educator to be worn during the anniversary year.

Notable past pupils[edit]


  1. ^ School Committee minutes.
  2. ^ Botha, H.C. (1984). John Fairbairn in South Africa. Cape Town: Historical Publication Society. p. 336. ISBN 0-620-07137-0. 
  3. ^ Governing Body minutes.
  4. ^ 1820 Settlers
  5. ^ O Little Town of Bethlehem
  6. ^ Correspondence in College archives.
  7. ^ Squash info, the definitive squash resource
  8. ^ Cricinfo
  9. ^ Ajax Cape Town official club site

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°53′58.19″S 18°33′50.81″E / 33.8994972°S 18.5641139°E / -33.8994972; 18.5641139 (Fairbairn College)