A-Z of getting into faraway top schools just got a bit easier
However, it may still be not enough, according to principals and school governing bodies in Gauteng
While the scrapping of the controversial 5km radius for feeder zones at Gauteng’s 2,067 public schools will result in more parents qualifying to apply for places at top schools, they will not be guaranteed a space.
This is the view of principals and governing bodies who have expressed mixed reactions to the revised feeder zones that were recently gazetted by the Gauteng education department.
The expanded feeder areas will be used to determine pupil admissions to schools from 2020.
Schools now each have a map that clearly outlines the residential areas falling within a school’s feeder zone. This means parents living in these areas will automatically qualify to be included in the school’s A-list, which would theoretically give them the best chance of securing a place for their child.
For the first time, parents living within a 30km radius of a school can now also apply for a place at that institution, but their names will go on to the so-called B-list.
However, Parktown High School for Girls headmistress Tracey Megom said only 200 of the 500 parents whose names appeared on the A-list had been successful in securing places for their children in Grade 8 next year.
“The first 200 online applications were taken. It is basically on a first come, first served basis. Our school was full within the first two hours of applications opening.”
After applying online, applicants received a printout with a number they had to bring to school within seven days, together with the child’s birth certificate and proof of residence.
Qualifying admission criteria included the child living in the feeder area or his parents working there, the child having a sibling at the school and whether it was the closest high school to the feeder primary school.
She said about 10 pupils living close to the school, including two or three siblings of pupils already at the school, failed to initially secure a place as their names were lower down the list.
But these pupils were allocated places after some of those, who were initially awarded places, turned down the offer.
“The new feeder area will increase the number of children who qualify for the A-list, but it won’t allow us to take more children.”
Michael Berger, chairperson of the governing body of Jeppe High School for Boys, said their feeder zone map excluded boys from Edenvale, Bedfordview and Benoni.
“We want to be declared a focus school as we offer a very specific educational experience as single-sex schools. We want the opportunity to select prospective pupils who we feel will benefit from this experience.”
Focus schools are declared as such by the education department.
The principal of King Edward VII, Dave Lovatt, welcomed the 30km application zone.
“The governing body is looking at the final feeder zone, and we will consider whether we need to lodge an appeal.”
Their new feeder zone is rectangular in shape and about 4km by 9km in size.
Pierre Edwards, principal of Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool in Pretoria, said their feeder area had been the whole of Pretoria since 1992 and that it had led to a dramatic increase in their pupil numbers from 750 to 1,340.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi dismissed claims that the new feeder zones would result in township schools “emptying out” as pupils flocked to suburban schools.
He quoted the example of Diepsloot West Secondary, which had a capacity for 780 pupils but was accommodating 1,300.
“They are carrying the burden because poor people have no option, so this thing about township schools emptying out is baseless.”