Private school slammed over entrance test
Dad says that, based on the results of the Joburg Curro school test, his son shouldn't even be able to spell his name
A parent is fuming after Waterstone College, a Curro school in the south of Johannesburg, refused to admit his son because he failed the entrance tests.
This was despite recent comments by the chief executive of Curro Holdings, Andries Greyling, to Times Select’s sister publication, Sunday Times, that “no child will ever be denied admission based on the outcome of this test”.
Lionel Mphaphuli, 34, a businessman from Alberton on Gauteng’s East Rand, applied in early February to enrol his son, Marcus, in Grade 8 at the school in 2020.
He is currently in Grade 7 at Leicester Road School in Kensington, Johannesburg, which is a former model C school.
After his son wrote the assessment tests on March 5, Mphaphuli said he did not hear from the school until he made inquiries on March 26 about his son’s results.
He received an e-mail from the school’s admissions secretary, Angie Pienaar, on April 5 informing him that they were unable to accept his son because he “will not cope academically at Waterstone College”.
“We believe that there are other excellent academic environments that Marcus will thrive in,” Pienaar wrote.
Mphaphuli said he then called the school to ask for a copy of his son’s results.
He visited the school on April 12 and saw that his son had scored 5% in English and 3% in maths.
“I told her [the head of academics] that there’s no way that my son could get 3% and 5% for a test unless he was writing a test meant for matric pupils. I know my son. A 3% or 5% means he can’t even spell his name.”
In contrast, Marcus’s report card for the first three months of 2019 at Leicester Road School reveal that he scored more than 50% in two subjects, more than 60% in eight subjects and more than 70% in one subject.
Mphaphuli said his son was a prefect, a house captain for Grade 7 and the captain of the under-12 soccer team at Leicester Road School.
“His current school would not have given him such responsibilities if he can’t even spell his name.”
After writing the tests his son had told him they were “really, really” difficult.
“Waterstone College sets the test themselves and marks it themselves so they can make it as difficult or simple as they wish. I am very, very disappointed that my son has not been accepted,” he said.
He said he was asked to bring his son for a retest on May 14.
“If he fails the tests again I don’t think there’s anything much I can do. But maybe it will help other parents experiencing the same thing to come out.”
Greyling said it was “indeed Curro’s policy not to deny a learner admission based on their entrance exam”.
However, this contradicts information in Waterstone College’s admission application form which clearly states that the conditions that would make the application process unsuccessful include “unsuccessful results from the assessment test”.
Greyling said the essence of the admission test was to determine a pupil’s academic ability in order to identify any possible academic shortcomings “and to determine if the school can indeed support the child if any major scholastic issues are identified”.
He said the tests provided an opportunity for the school to discuss the pupil’s academic capabilities with their parents.
“Curro’s first priority remains to ensure that all our learners receive a quality education,” he said.
In another case last month, Pretoria West businesswoman Innocentia Mashele, 36, was left bitterly disappointed after Crawford College Pretoria said her 12-year-old daughter, Ntshuxeko, “did not do well” in the entrance test.
Mashele, who was hoping to enrol Ntshuxeko in Grade 8 in 2020, was asked to call the school in August to set a date for a retest.
Her daughter had found some “difficult words” in the English oral test, and struggled with some of the maths questions because she had not been taught them at school.
The Gauteng education department recently amended its admission regulations, banning school governing bodies from subjecting new pupils to entrance tests.
Although these tests have been outlawed by the South African Schools Act, many private schools still administer them, especially in English and maths.
Some private and state schools have slammed the practice of private schools administering admission tests, accusing them of being exclusionary and elitist by using it to cherry-pick only the most intelligent pupils for enrolment – seemingly to secure good passes.