Local newsNews

#journeyto100years: Willowmoore High opens in 1974

One of the school's many achievements was changing of the mindset that a technical school can never be a site of academic excellence.

Willowmoore High School was founded 47 years ago with the intent to get the increasing number of learners in Benoni into classrooms.

Located just off Cecil Jackson Road, the school was founded at the request of JA Laburn, the inspector of education for the Boksburg Circuit.

Mr Brown (head of additional languages), Mrs Plaskitt (former principal) and Mrs Sanders (current principal) provided the following information to the City Times about the history of the school:

PA Vos was approached to open a new school in Benoni because the population of Benoni had grown to such an extent that an extra school was needed for the population that was moving into Benoni, Western Extension and Lakefield.

ALSO READ: Willowmoore High School’s cultural festival

Learners were zoned and all the children living in those areas had to go to the new school, to be called Willowmoore High School.

The rest of the children went to a new school that had been built in Northmead, which was then called Benoni High School.

According to the history books, the name Willowmoore derived from a combination of W Hans Moore, a councillor and mayor of Benoni from the late 1920s, and a reference to the many willow trees on the school property.

There were 431 learners in the first year (grade eight to 10), 22 members of staff and two administrative staff.

The range of subjects covered the technical as well as academic syllabi. There were no uniforms, equipment or sports grounds.

“When the uniform was eventually decided upon, it was, for girls, a fawn Crimplene skirt and a yellow blouse, for boys brown pants and white shirt,” they explained.

“The Grade 10 learners who were made prefects in that year stayed a prefect for three years until Grade 12 when they matriculated.

The first principal was Vos.

Some of the school’s greatest achievements:
• The growth of the school from 200 to 1 200 learners.
• Mrs Snelling was the first female principal at a technical high, which opened doors for more female principals.
• The decision to be a fee-paying school allowed staff to be employed by the governing body.
• The decision to encourage all races to be part of the school and ensuring the staff reflected the diversity of the learners at the school.
• Excellence of teaching staff, with many staff giving more than 20 years of service to the school.
• Many staff members have gone on to receive awards for excellence in teaching at district, regional and national levels, as well as two women who received Lifetime Achievement in Education awards.
• Improving all the facilities at the school, such as the introduction of a computer centre, teaching IT and computing, and all the extension courses.
• Computerising the school, timetable, admin, Google Classroom and coping in the pandemic with access to online learning.

ALSO READ: Benoni High Class of 1970 pupils reunite

• Increasing the cultural activities at the school to reflect the changing population.
• A Grade 12 NSC pass rate that has never dropped below 90%.
Some of the school’s greatest overcome challenges:
• Constant renovation of school buildings which date from the 1920s
• Addition of the computer centre.
• The moving towards wireless education.
• The changing of the mindset that a technical school can never be a site of academic excellence.
• Constant need to address the needs of an increasingly diverse school community.
Despite challenges, the school has grown over the years.
• Governing body employment of more teachers and admin staff, thus enabling us to keep classes smaller and offer a wide variety of subjects.
• The teaching staff has also increased to 50 and the support staff have increased from eight to 20, with the support of our paying parents.
• The number of learners has increased from 750 in 1994 to over 1 100 in 2020.
• Recognising service as part of the colours constitution allowed many learners to achieve colours for the work of serving the school and the community.
• Improvement in all the facilities, tennis and netball courts as well as cricket nets all replaced and resurfaced.
• Old shooting range changed into an obstacle course for use during physical education lessons.
• All quads paved and roads resurfaced. Walling around the school improved and all the fields for soccer and cricket drained and improved. Old bicycle sheds changed into covered seating for learners.
• Maintenance of school: the roof and hall floor replaced, classrooms painted and re-tiled.
• Workshops and technical drawing classrooms and learners’ toilets upgraded.
• Data projectors and laptops for all teachers.
• New classrooms built.
• Security systems put in place to ensure the safety of the learners and the school.

Vision: Willowmoore High strives to create relevant and equitable, holistic quality education that will produce well-rounded, responsible and respectful leaders who will contribute meaningfully to tomorrow’s communities.

Mission: Willowmoore High strives to create an ongoing positive, innovative and inclusive learning environment for our diverse community, maintain a safe, functional and technologically focused school for the well-rounded development of all learners, and uphold the ethos of mutual respect of human rights and South African culture.


Related Articles

Back to top button