Retired principal praised for reviving school in Cape Flats

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A former principal of one of the best performing schools in the Western Cape has been called out of retirement to assist to fix one of the worst performing schools on the Cape Flats, Lotus High

Lotus High is situated in the heart of the gangland of Grassy Park, where grafitti used to adorn the school walls. In less than a year since the appointment of the retired Stephen Price, matric results improved from 32% to over 65%. 

The former principal had been on retirement for just a month in March last year, when he received a call for help from the provincial  department of education.

Price says he was shocked with what he found at the new school.

“When I arrived here, the challenges I found were very poor work ethic, extremely low pass rate, a lack of discipline, no uniform. A lack of hope, the children did not have hope in their hearts for the future and then a very demoralized staff.”

His immediate task was to improve the matric results. He identified learners, who needed extra support on the subject, who were failing. Together with staff and parents they decided on the support needed.

The most daunting task, he says, was to make the learners believe in themselves.

“They didn’t believe they could pass, and we slowly started to make them believe, just by motivating and encouraging them, praising them when they achieved, when they improved because we could not reward excellence in the school. The children were not delivering excellence, so we had to change the focus to reward improvement and so children started to feel better.”

Discipline, commitment to learning restored at Lotus High School on the Cape Flats:

Learners like Paige Eden say they now have extracurricular activities like sport, gardening and debating societies which make them want to come to school every day.

“We have new sport equipment, everything in school has been changed, renovations, the staff rooms, the floors, walls also tiled small things that make a difference at the school. It makes you not to want to miss a day at school,”

School Governing Body (SGB) member for the past eight years, Paul Martins says they could not have asked for a better care-taker principal.

“We are so proud as the governing body that God sent a man like him. I told him God sent him this way to bring these changes to this school. Because for 25 years this school is standing here. We never had changes like this, and he still wants to do more and more.”

And nothing warms the principal’s heart more than a message card he got from his learners on his birthday.

“And you’ve taught us that there’s hope for our school, and us, , you made us earn the name of Lotus High, and now we are the best school in the Western Cape. Honestly sir we thought you wouldn’t last long at our school, but you stayed and changed our school for the better…’ That’s when I knew I had started the change to give these students hope, I didn’t know that,” says Price.

Through support from the department of education and private business that donated towards improvements of the building structure itself Price says the partnership must take equal credit.

Retired principal called to save Grassy Park school: Stephen Price: