Bishops, Cape Town, an African school, aspires to:
- live the Christian faith in the Anglican tradition, humbly and courageously;
- respect, nurture and value each person;
- inspire individuals to open their minds and hearts, and to reach their dreams;
- offer a world-class, all round education fully up to date with the best educational and technological advances;
- address global issues including the sustainability of the environment both as part of the curriculum and as demonstrated in school operations;
- embrace and celebrate diversity in the communities of our school and nation.
(Developed as part of the Next Wave Conference 2008)
Bishops is an independent boys’ school situated in Rondebosch in Cape Town, which provides instruction from Grade 0 to Grade 12 (ages 6 – 18), with a post-matric unit as well. The school was founded by Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town, in 1849. The school’s formal name is the Diocesan College, but it is widely known as ‘Bishops’. The school's character arises from its Christian foundation, its history, its position in southern Africa and the values which it strives to embody and to impart to its pupils.
After having been run for forty years by Bishop Gray and the Principals whom he had appointed, control of the school was established by an Act of the Cape Parliament in 1891, which was then amended in 1942. This Act (the Diocesan College Council, Rondebosch, Incorporation Act, 1891) created the Council of the school which was to have full power and authority to control the management and direction of the school, to appoint or remove the Principal and other staff, and to control all property and assets of the Council through its nominated officers. The Council was set up with six of its members being nominees of the Archbishop of Cape Town, and another six being nominees of the Council itself. The Archbishop is the Visitor to the school. Various conditions were laid down in terms of the purposes of the School, and the Act made it clear that in the event of these conditions not being met, or if the school were to close down, the property and funds of the school would revert to the Trustees of the Diocese of Cape Town, and to the Archbishop of Cape Town. The Principal is appointed by Council and he has full powers to run the school to give effect to the policies and the vision decided on by the Council.
During the century and a half of its existence, the school’s academic curriculum has prepared pupils for a variety of exams, and currently Bishops pupils write the National Senior Certificate exams. Prior to 1910, the Diocesan College prepared pupils for tertiary, secondary and primary education, but in 1910, the University section of the school joined with the University section of the South African College School (SACS) to form the University of Cape Town, and from then on, Bishops was concerned only with primary and secondary education. The co-curricular activities supported by the school include a full programme of sporting activities, a vigorous and exciting cultural programme throughout the year, and an extensive network of pastoral and support structures. The school also devotes large resources to maintaining contact and relationships with past pupils and past parents, who together form the wider community of the school.
The values which Bishops espouses shape its activities as an institution and direct the lessons which are imparted to its pupils.
The school values excellence as an aspiration in everything that we do. We maintain a disciplined environment, in which courtesy, consideration, respect and manners are central to the atmosphere we create. We strive for the development of each individual boy so that he might reach his full potential and we recognise the importance of belonging to, and of bonding with each other. The school is Christian in character and Christian worship and practice is part of our daily routine, but we are respectful of all religions, and strive to address the development of spirituality in all our pupils. We are conscious that we operate in South Africa and in Africa, and we have chosen to align ourselves with the principles which direct education in South Africa in the post apartheid era. We have committed ourselves to embrace and celebrate diversity. In all that we do we value the emphasis on all-rounded-ness, requiring of all our pupils that they involve themselves in the academic, sporting, cultural, pastoral and spiritual life of the school and its community. We attempt to share our expertise and skills with all groups who share common aspirations for the greater good of the country and its people, and where we can, we offer service and leadership to others. We strive to develop a love for learning that goes beyond school. We value our history and the traditions that have been established, while at the same time recognizing the need to keep abreast or ahead of contemporary trends in education and society.
The school is committed in all that it does to give effect to these values and purposes.
Statement on Spirituality
This statement is intended for all who are part of, or intend joining, the Bishops community.
”.....that it may hereafter become a great engine for the extension of the pure faith of Christ throughout that part of the African continent, by the education of a body of devoted clergy, and a pious and intellectual laity.” – Bishop Gray
“.....with the object of supplying a liberal education with religious instruction in accordance with the principles of the Church of England.” – Act of Incorporation
1.1 Bishops is a Christian school in the Anglican tradition.
1.2 Bishops is an African educational institution which aims at pupils realising their full potential through a well rounded education, rooted in the Christian faith.
1.3 As a Christian school built on the foundation of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, we seek to be obedient to him and his teaching. The consequences of this are:
We prayerfully seek God’s plan for the school.
Worship and the chapel are central to the life of the school.
Christian values are demonstrated in all aspects of school life.
We live the life of Christ, humbly and courageously.
Composition of the School
2.1 The school is governed by the Council which is committed to the Christian ethos of the school.
2.2 The Principal, the Headmasters and the head of the Pre-Prep will be practising Christians.
2.3 The Principal is the spiritual head of the school and may delegate to, and operate through, the school executives, the school chaplains, the housemasters and others.
2.4 A high proportion of the academic staff should be practising Christians.
2.5 All in authority, both staff and boys, should be seen to be good role models with a vocation to care pastorally for the students.
2.6 The chaplain shall be an ordained priest, licensed by the Bishop of the Diocese.
2.7 The school welcomes and accepts boys of all denominations and faiths who are happy to attend Christian worship in the chapel.
3. Outworking of the Christian Faith
3.1 Where designated, Chapel services will be compulsory for all boys, and staff will be encouraged to participate in chapel as they fulfill their tasks as role models.
3.2 The Chapel Committee will endeavour to ensure that the worship in the Chapel meets the needs of the boys and other worshippers.
3.3 All members of the Bishops community are encouraged to participate in chapel services and in the spiritual life of the school.
3.4 Relationships with the Diocese and the wider Christian Church will be fostered.
3.5 The Christian Union will be encouraged as an integral part of the school.
3.6 Christian values should be demonstrated:
in the behaviour of all at Bishops
in the fostering of a compassionate ethos in the school
in the relationships of staff and pupils with one another, and with visitors
in a caring way through the school’s outreach programme
by being a praying and worshipping community.
4. Other Faiths
4.1 Bishops will at all times exhibit the greatest respect for pupils of other faiths, and indeed for people of all faiths.
4.2 Interfaith dialogue will be encouraged.
4.3 By arrangement, allowance can be made for the practice of other faiths in their places of worship.
Schools will act best when there is a shared purpose and understanding between parents, staff and pupils regarding the role and functions of the school. In order to arrive at that situation, the following Code of Conduct and Expectations is held as a guide for achieving that shared understanding. Parents sign the Acceptance of Place document to secure their son’s place in the school, and in signing that document, parents are also committing themselves to the substance of this document.
Expectations for Parents
It is expected that all school parents will:
- Accept that by taking up a place at Bishops, they have considered and have agreed that there will be an optimal match between the needs of their child, their own expectations, and the philosophy and programmes of the school.
- Share with the school any religious, cultural, medical, or personal information that the school may need to best serve their child and the school community.
- Help and encourage their children to develop strong spiritual and moral values.
- Recognize that effective partnerships are characterized by clearly defined responsibilities, a shared commitment to collaboration, open lines of communication, mutual respect, and a common vision of the goals to be achieved.
- Provide a home environment that supports the development of positive learning attitudes and habits that are consistent with those of the school.
- Take an active interest in their children’s work and progress.
- Involve themselves in the life of the school, through volunteerism and other means, to promote the best interests of their children.
- Respect the school's responsibility to do what is best for the entire community, while recognizing the needs of each individual child.
- Familiarize themselves with and support the school's policies and procedures.
- Ensure that the children abide by the school rules.
- Avoid gossip and rumours, and if in doubt, consult with the school for definite information.
- Seek to resolve problems and secure information through appropriate channels (i.e., teacher/tutor, House Director, the appropriate Deputy Head, or Headmaster (Prep), or finally the Principal - in that order).
- Treat everyone with respect and maintain an educational, rather than adversarial tone, in the face of the inevitable conflicts and challenges.
- Utilize the support of the Parents' Association Committee when appropriate.
- Join the Bishops Society once their sons have left school as a way of maintaining a connection with the school.
- Acknowledge that their payment of tuition is not an investment of ownership in the school, with related controls, but rather an investment in the educational process of their child.
With respect to alcohol (understanding that it is illegal to give alcohol to a person under the age of 18):
- To educate my son about alcohol with respect to the law, dangers, social responsibility and parental expectations.
- Not to provide alcohol to anyone else’s school-going son or daughter unless they are 18 and I have the express permission of the parents.
- To take responsibility for any gathering of my son and his friends at my home or one organized by me at another venue.
- To report any unauthorized use of alcohol or drugs which may occur to the parents of all the children involved.
The school believes that a positive and constructive partnership between the School and a pupil's parents or guardian is essential to the fulfillment of the School's mission. Thus, the School reserves the right not to continue enrolment or not to re-enrol a pupil if the School reasonably concludes that the actions of the parent or guardian make such a positive, constructive relationship impossible, or otherwise seriously interfere with our accomplishment of our educational purposes. By signing the Acceptance of Place document, parents are indicating their acceptance of these expectations as well.
Professional Conduct for teaching staff
It is expected that staff will:
- Acknowledge, uphold and promote basic human rights, as embodied in the Constitution.
- Take pride in their work and show respect for themselves, other people and the school.
- Establish positive, professional relationships with pupils, characterized by mutual respect, warmth, and good will. They will take special care to maintain confidentiality when privileged information is shared.
- Know and support the mission and policies of the school and as they arise, raise questions or concerns with appropriate colleagues and supervisors.
- Participate in the establishment and maintenance of an atmosphere of collegial support and adherence to professional standards.
- Refrain from undermining the status and authority of their colleagues.
- Respect the various responsibilities assigned to colleagues to ensure the smooth running of the school.
- Develop and sustain relationships with colleagues that benefit their pupils, and further their own professional growth.
- Strive to be mentors and friends to each other, treating colleagues with the same degree of respect that the school expects pupils to demonstrate for their teachers and peers.
- Avoid gossiping, spreading rumors, or making judgments about colleagues, pupils, or parents.
- Model an appreciation for diversity of race, religion, culture, gender, and learning style.
- Model an appreciation for diversity of race, religion, culture, gender, and learning style.
- Be teachers to all pupils at all times; be committed to teaching ethics and character formation.
- Initiate growth in their own intellectual and professional development, seeking out opportunities to learn.
- Maintain a high degree of subject knowledge and keep abreast of educational trends and developments.
- Develop a curriculum of excellence./li>
- Always be properly prepared for classes, meet deadlines and observe punctuality at all times.
- Act in a proper and appropriate way so that their behaviour does not bring the school into disrepute.
- Use proper procedures to address issues of professional incompetence and misbehaviour.
- Conduct themselves in accordance with the Code of Professional Conduct of the South African Council of Educators
- Refrain from discussing confidential and official matters with unauthorized persons.
- Develop and sustain appropriate partnerships with parents that support each pupil's well-being and increasing autonomy.
- Enforce standards of pupil behavior in a fair, firm, compassionate and educationally sound manner.
- Realise and adhere to the rule that any form of humiliation and/or child abuse, whether physical or psychological, is strictly prohibited and shall result in the strictest action being taken.
- Know and understand that under no circumstances may they enter into any form of sexual relationship with pupils, or engage in any form of sexual harassment of pupils, and their conduct shall reflect this rule at all times.
- Be accountable for their actions and take responsibility for their actions or lack of action.
- Make the school's philosophy implicit in their teaching and other work with young people, and also interpret this philosophy to parents as necessary.
- Do what is practically possible to keep parents adequately informed about the well-being and progress of the pupil without breaching any confidential information relayed by the pupil to the teacher.
- Accept that staff behaviour should be fair, honourable and ethical; that honesty should be valued; and that the staff should have integrity and consistency.
- Encourage the development of strong spiritual and moral values in the pupils, and display these values themselves.
Expectations for the pupils
It is expected that pupils will:
- Have high expectations of themselves and of the school.
- Strive to achieve the highest standards they can in everything they do.
- Conduct themselves at all times to give substance to the values of the school as outlined in this document.
- Share in and maintain the ethos of commitment to academic work, and willing engagement in the full co-curricular life of the school.
- Familiarise themselves with the school rules as outlined in the School Diary (for the College) or the Orientation Brochure (for the Prep), especially with regard to behaviour, uniform and appearance.
- Observe the School Rules in all aspects of life both at school and where applicable, at home, so that their behaviour maintains the tone of the school.
- Own up to, and accept the consequences of breaches of school rules and conduct.
- Accept the general tone of manners, as evidenced by such behaviour as; no hands in pockets, standing up when adults pass by, and removing any hat / cap, greeting everyone with direct eye contact and a greeting, offering to help others if they are carrying things, and the like.
- Show respect for others, starting with basic civility and courtesy, and extending through to acts of kindness.
- Consider the safety, feelings, and general needs of others at all times.
- Tell the truth and act truthfully.
- Avoid gossiping, spreading rumors, or making judgments about staff, students, or parents.
- Respect the property of others and of the school; keep our buildings and campus clean; do nothing to bring the school into disrepute.
- Develop strong spiritual and moral values.
The Role of School Committees
Schools are most successful in developing children when they work with parents as part of the milieu in which a child grows. This comprises a child's family, school and environment. For the most effective influence to be exerted on children, parents must understand and embrace the school's mission, share its core values and fully support its curriculum and staff.
One impediment to effective team work between schools and parents is a misunderstanding of the roles of the decision-making bodies in the school. Clarification of these roles is critical to fostering good relationships in the community and lessening frustration. At the same time, parents should understand that they too, have a responsibility to inform themselves of the workings and culture of the school.
1. In the Diocesan College, the highest authority resides in the Council. It is made up of 12 members, half of whom are appointed by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the other half appointed by the Council itself. There are a number of observers to Council, who participate fully in all aspects of Council activity, except voting.
2. It is not the task of Council to intervene in the daily running of the school or in its operational sphere such as appointing, evaluating or dismissing staff. Rather the Council focuses on the following areas::
- The appointment, evaluation and support of the Principal, to whom it delegates authority to manage the school.
- The development of institutional policy in order to guide the Principal in running the school.
- The management of and accountability for the school finances as well as the endowment of the school.
- Management, in conjunction with the Principal, of a strategic plan for the school.
3. In the conduct of its official business, the Council acts only as a whole: individual Council Members, including the Chair, have no authority to act unless specifically authorised to do so by the Council acting as a whole. In the course of their interaction with the school, if Council Members are approached by parents with concerns of an operational nature (e.g. staff competence or behaviour, curriculum, etc,), they would be expected to inform the Principal as a matter of good practice, but they should not get involved, leaving it instead to the Principal’s discretion.
4. There is a Manual of Council’s activities which is available on request from the Principal.
5. There are a number of Council committees which engage in their specific areas of responsibility, and who report to Council which then takes the necessary decisions. Parents and staff are as a matter of policy regularly included on these committees. Details of these Committees can be found in the Manual.
The School Executives
- There are three executive committees within the school.
- The senior one is the Bishops executive, which is made up of the Principal, the Deputy Principal, the Headmaster of the Prep and the Business Manager. This body addresses whole school issues under the direction of the Principal.
- There are two other executive committees, one each in the College and one in the Prep. These bodies address issues within each school, under the direction of the Headmaster.
- While the Principal is ultimately responsible, the College and Prep Executive Committees are engaged in the day-to-day operations of each school including such issues as the academic programme, curriculum development, the full extramural programme, appointments and evaluation of staff, and the implementation of Council policies.
- The Headmaster of the Prep reports to the Principal but otherwise each school is run as a separate entity within Bishops.
- The Deputy Heads see to the line management of the key areas of the school’s operations – academic, sport, culture, pastoral and discipline. There are staff committees in all of these areas to assist in this process.
- The Principal, Headmaster and Executives keep parents informed of decisions and changes. This is usually accomplished in newsletters and parents' meetings.
- It is incumbent on parents to inform themselves of such meetings and the frequency of written communications in order to remain informed.
The Parents Associations
- There are Parents Associations in both the Prep school and the College. Each Parents Association has its own constitution and works closely with the Principal or Headmaster to meet a number of its key purposes. The most important of these are developing social opportunities for parents to get to know each other and to support their sons at the school. The Parents Associations also are fund-raising bodies. A third function is to act as a conduit for the flow of information both from the school to the parents, and from the parents to the school.
- The finances of the Parents Associations are supervised by the school and are part of the school's annual audit process.
- The Principal or Headmaster should be closely involved in ensuring that the election procedures are properly managed. Co-operation and teamwork between the Principal or Headmaster and the Parents Associations are crucial to the health of the school community.
- It is appropriate that the Parents Associations advertise their activities, events and achievements. However, the associations are not public relations arms of the school and should play no role in the school's effort to communicate about itself.
College Parents Association House Committees
- Each of the College Houses has a House Committee of parents which serves a parallel function within the House to that served by the PA in the school at large.
- Each House Committee usually will have representatives for each of the year groups, and someone from the House committee will attend the PA committee as the House representative.
Parents and Staff
- Parents (even those that live a long distance from the school) play an essential and positive role in the life of an Independent School. Not only are parents advocates for their children, they also support the staff and executive (where possible) through extensive volunteer activities and events.
- The relationship between parents and the staff is formally governed by the school's written enrolment contract (the Acceptance of Place document). When parents choose to enrol their child at Bishops, they agree to subscribe to its mission, follow its rules and abide by its decisions.
- The manner in which parents conduct themselves with and regarding staff has an enormous influence on children in modelling adult working relationships and these should always be based on civility, honesty and respect.
- Parents are encouraged to work productively with the teachers by staying informed about their child and important events in the life of the school. In the same manner, they should timeously inform the appropriate staff of any information relevant to the well-being of the child. Thoughtful questions and suggestions should be welcomed by the school.
- Parents best support a school climate of trust and respect by communicating concerns timeously, openly and constructively to the staff member closest to the problem. Efforts by parents to lobby other parents will be viewed by the school as counter-productive. In any event, if a concern is legitimate, the school will address it with the same vigour whether it is raised by one or a multitude of parents.
- Whilst parents may not agree with every decision by the school, in most cases the parent and school will find enough common ground to continue a mutually respectful relationship. In the extreme case, however, an impasse may be so severe that the parent cannot remain a constructive member of the community. In such cases, both the parent and the school should consider whether another school would be a better match for the family.
- Should the breakdown in the relationship between the school and parents (or the learner) be considered to be irreparable, or should the school and the parents be unable to agree on a positive way forward to resolve the impasse, the Principal or Headmaster may need to consider instituting cautionary measures against the parents and/or even revoking the Contract of Enrolment.
The Old Diocesans’ Union
- The Old Diocesan Union is the after-school home for all past pupils of the school. Made up of about 5 000 members it is run by a Secretary located at the school, a committee of old boys and branches throughout the world.
- It is expected of pupils leaving the school that they will:
- Join the OD Union and support its activities
- Continue to support the school in the pursuit of its policies
- Support the school’s and the Union’s fundraising activities so that the school can continue to provide the quality of education which they enjoyed while they were at school
- Attempt where possible to enrol their own sons at the school to maintain their connection with the school
There are a number of other documents which should be read in conjunction with this document. These are dynamic documents, changing as and when circumstances require their adjustment, and they are available on the Bishops website at www.bishops.org.za They can be found under the Information link on the opening page.
They include, among others, the following:
- Policy documents (Distinguish between principled policies and procedural guides)
- Grievance and Cautionary procedures
- School Rules and regulations where appropriate.