Wynberg Girls' High School

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Wynberg Girls' High School
WGHS FullColour portrait no wording.jpg
Honour before Honours
Cape Town, South Africa
Coordinates 34°0′10″S 18°27′50″E / 34.00278°S 18.46389°E / -34.00278; 18.46389Coordinates: 34°0′10″S 18°27′50″E / 34.00278°S 18.46389°E / -34.00278; 18.46389
Type Secondary School[1]
Established 12 July 1884
Headmistress Mrs S. Harding[1]
Enrollment 800[1]
Houses Apsley, Cavanagh, Constantia, Copenhagen, Kirsten, Silverlea, Waterloo, Wellesley
Colour(s) Brown and Gold

Wynberg Girls' High School is a public school for girls in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

Founded in 1884, Wynberg Girls High School is one of the oldest all-girls schools in South Africa. The first headmistress, Miss Margaret Stewart, was supported by two teachers and catered to 27 pupils. Initially a co-educational school, WGHS soon became an all-girls school and was known as Ladies' Seminary.

WGHS is part of the Wynberg Campus of schools, along with Wynberg Girls Junior School, Wynberg Boys' Junior School, and Wynberg Boys' High School. The school is located in Aliwal Road in the suburb of Wynberg.

School activities at Wynberg are founded on four pillars: Academics, Sport, Service and Culture. The school has excelled in all four of these areas and has subsequently produced well-rounded pupils capable of entering a wide variety of careers.[2]

The school motto is Honour before Honours, which means: personal integrity and character are more important than winning prizes and awards.



In September 1884 the Kerkraad of the Dutch Reformed Church, situated on the top of Carr Hill, decided to found a school for girls in Wynberg.[3] Wynberg at this time was a little village on the wagon road from Cape Town. It was situated near the Military camp and surrounded by Little Chelsea with its cottages and narrow winding streets.

The minister of the Dutch Reformed Church at that time lived in the old Pastorie where the boarding house is situated today. The church council decided to build a little school building (where the school library is today) and named the school "Ladies' Seminary" - it was soon nicknamed the "School in the Bush."

The school was officially opened in 1885 with two teachers - Misses Annie Brink and Nellie Brink - and twenty-seven young boys and girls. The first principal was Miss Margaret Stewart (1885-1890) The school motto was chosen in 1890 - and the phrase Honour before Honours means "Personal integrity and character are more important than winning prizes and awards." The first Standard Ten class matriculated in 1892, and until 1936, the school included pupils from Sub A to Standard Ten. The Cape Education department took over the running of the school in 1905.

The first hostel was built in 1885, and was situated where the main hall is today. The new school was built in 1900, and had dormitories upstairs. The room now used as a staff workroom and offices for HOD's used to be a dormitory. Lab One was the kitchen, and the library was the dining room. The school at this time was called Girls' Public School. During this time Physical Education and Sport were introduced into the school. Wynberg was the first girls' school in South Africa to have a fully qualified Physical Education teacher, Mrs Dolly Rees who studied in London. A gymnasium was erected in 1900, and a hockey field was laid out where the Wellington Quad is today. Activities at school were hockey, cricket and tennis.


The first school hall was built during Miss A Chambers' time as principal, which is now the Ballet Hall.[3]

Miss King, 1914-1936[edit]

Under the leadership of Miss King, a new building for the Junior School was built. The Peninsula Girls' Schools Games Union was formed and Inter-schools events became a feature of school life. Prefect and House systems were introduced and the school magazine was revived, and has been published every year since 1916.[3]

Miss Hawkins[edit]

In 1936, the Junior School became a separate school. School colours of the time were navy and blue, until Miss Hawkins changed these back to the original colours of brown and gold.

The school is built on part of the Waterloo Estate, originally owned by Captain William Underwood.[4] He had fought under the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo before coming to live in Wynberg. In 1938, a new hostel was built and Miss Hawkins named it Waterloo House, and asked the 5th Duke of Wellington if she could use an adapted version of his coat of arms as the new school badge.[5] A new gymnasium was built, and opened in 1944, after the old building had suffered storm damage.

Miss A Currie[edit]

In 1958, the new school hall was opened.

Miss J Urie[edit]

In 1963, the school song was composed. In 1965, nine new classrooms were built. In 1968 four new tennis courts were built in Ellerslie Road. In 1969, the swimming pool was built entirely out of school funds and in 1970 the hockey field was grassed. The first tuck shop was opened behind the Ballet Hall, where the kitchen is today. The 7th Duke of Wellington visited our school in 1969, with the names of the houses being associated with him. In 1974, Ballet was introduced as a subject. In 1984, in time for the Centenary celebrations, 17 new classrooms were built on the old hockey field.

Mrs C Walters, 1988-1998[edit]

In 1988 a Parent Teacher Association was established for the first time, and matriculants were encouraged to become paid up members of the Wynberg Old Girls' Union. In 1993, the library was completely refurbished, a mezzanine floor put in and the library administrative area extended. A new tuck shop between the hall and the art room was built.

From 1996-1998, significant technological developments were made, more television sets and video cassette recorders were bought. The new computer room was opened in 1997, with scanners, a digital camera and a digital projector.[3]

During 1997, the hostel and the hockey clubhouse were renovated. Wynberg became the first South African school to lay an AstroTurf. Computer Studies was introduced as an academic subject in 1998, and A-levels courses were offered either as a post matric course or as one which could be studied concurrently with Grades 11 and 12.

Mrs S Harding, 1999-present[edit]

Mrs Harding become Principal in 1999. She established the computer room, with a strong commitment to making every learner computer literate. The Art Room and a large classroom teaching venue were opened in October 2002. The Life Skills wing was established catering for life skills classes, counsellors and the extensive social work and support programmes.

Sporting Activities[edit]

Wynberg Girls High offers a wide variety of team and social sports from which learners can choose. These include the standard sports such as hockey, indoor hockey, netball, tennis, badminton, cricket, cross country, soccer, athletics, swimming, diving, waterpolo and synchronised swimming. Beyond these sports, WGHS offers competitive sailing, chess and aerobics.

Participation is keen and, in general, play is of a very high standard, with many learners gaining provincial colours and several obtaining their national colours. Learners who do not participate in official school sports are given recognition for excellence in particular sports such as horse-riding and gymnastics.

In the sporting arena, too, the learners of Wynberg Girls' High benefit from the unique circumstances of being able to share facilities with their brother and sister schools. Diving and swimming pools, an Astroturf, hockey fields, cricket nets and pitches, netball fields, squash and tennis courts are among the impressive facilities in the magnificent grounds of the combined schools.

All Wynberg schools are encouraged to support each other in the various inter-schools events allowing learners to experience the benefit of a co-educational system, where they stand as one in supporting their teams.

Cultural Activities[edit]

As part of the extramural programme for those who are interested in the area of the performing arts and particularly those who are musically inclined there is an Orchestra, a Contemporary and Jazz Band, the Choir, a Junior and Senior Marimba band, Flute and Recorder Ensembles.

For the budding Hollywood stars, orators, politicians and presidents of the future there are drama lessons, public speaking courses, weekly debating meetings/competitions and clashes. To keep students abreast of the world around them, there is flash debating in the weekly debates held during one of the breaks on the “Topic of the week.”

For those wanting to stretch their creative writing abilities there is Between the Lines and for those interested in reporting and photographic journalism, there is the Web Committee, Photography Society as well as the Wynpress - the school newspaper for the students.

Tending the spiritual needs and reaching out to the broader community are the Christian union of the school, Capstone and the Muslim Students’ Association.

All of these clubs and societies come together in a number of very exciting annual cultural events on the school calendar. Each year there is a Major Production which is presented alternately at Wynberg Boys' and Wynberg Girls' High school, there are Interhouse Plays and there are several lunchtime and evening Music Concerts. Pupils also participate in regional events such as the Western Cape Arts Festival and Eisteddfods.

School Song[edit]

Founded in the soil of our lands history,
Looking to a future yet untold,
Wynberg, Alma Mater, we thy daughters
Proudly wear for thee the brown and gold.
Glory of our lovely land, the protea,
Born of our brown earth and golden sun,
Take we for our emblem, may its beauty
Flower in every heart that thou has won,
In the mountains finding peace, God-given,
In great pine and oak trees seeing His power,
Wearers of the crimson badge of courage,
Bravely may we meet each unknown hour.
Strong in all of good that thou hast taught us,
Ready where our duty calls to stand,
Ever honour seeking before Honours,
May thy daughters nobly serve thy land.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Western Cape Education Department Online: School Profile". Western Cape Education Department. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  2. ^ Harding, Shirley & Green, Dave (1 October 2010). "Don't fix what ain't broke". Mail & Guardian. Johannesburg. 
  3. ^ a b c d "A brief history of Wynberg Girls' High.". Wynberg Girls' High School. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  4. ^ "History.". Wynberg Girls' Junior School. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  5. ^ Pama, Cornelis (1979). Wagon road to Wynberg. Cape Town: Tafelberg. p. 75. ISBN 0-624-01001-5. 
  6. ^ Hawthorne, Tracey (2006). Natalie Du Toit: Tumble Turn. Cape Town: Oshun Books. pp. 32–6. ISBN 978-1-77020-010-4. 
  7. ^ Women marching into the 21st century: wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. 2000. pp. 106–7. ISBN 0-7969-1966-6. 

External links[edit]