Bishops Council

Role and constitution of Council

The College Council is the governing body for the Bishops Pre-Prep School, the Prep School and the College. The reference to 'College' in the name of the governing body refers to the school’s historic name, the Diocesan College, and does not imply that that the Pre-Prep and the Prep schools do not have a governing body.

The Council comprises twelve people and is constituted by an Act of Parliament, No.11 of 1891, as amended in 1942. In terms of that Act, the school is also incorporated as an Anglican Church school. The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town is entitled to attend and vote at all meetings of Council. He is known as the “Visitor” to the school.

The role of Council is effectively to act as a board of directors for the school. The Council is responsible for the overall well-being of the school and involves itself with every aspect of the school, usually to the extent that such matters involve the strategy, structure, direction, finances, policies and pace of the school. It has complete oversight over all financial matters and oversight of all aspects of the school relating inter alia to the overall operation of the school, the investments of the school, the risks that the school is exposed to, diversity and transformation at the school, the use of technology, the development of land and buildings, the condition of facilities and the recruitment and retention of the best teachers, coaches and support staff.

While the Council manages the school on business principles and on a profit and loss basis, we recognise that it has a broader societal role as a place of learning and socialisation. Council is responsible for the approval of the operating budgets for the school each year and for the funding of and allocations to capital projects, such as new buildings, science laboratories, libraries, sports fields, etc. Operationally, the school budgets to break even each year. Council sets the fees for the school and determines the staff salary increases each year.

By far the biggest responsibility of Council is that of finding, recruiting and retaining a new Principal for Bishops every few years. That process was last undertaken in 2019 when Tony Reeler was selected to be the new Principal of Bishops with effect from July 2020. The Principal of the school reports to the Council.

Council does not involve itself in the operational aspects of the school, nor does it interfere in any way in the day-to-day management of the school. That is the mandate of the Principal, Tony Reeler, and his senior management team. Tony also has oversight and responsibility for the Pre-Prep and Prep schools, led by Greg Brown. The Pre-Prep and the Prep schools are extremely well run on a day-to-day basis under the leadership of Sharlene Groom and Greg Brown, respectively. All staff appointments within the school are the responsibility of the Principal and his executive.

Likewise, the Council does not involve itself in operational matters relating to Bishops old boys or to the OD Union, other than to the extent that the reputation of the school may be affected or to the extent that past pupils engage directly with the school. Council enjoys a strong and collaborative relationship with the leadership of the OD Union.

Members of Council serve voluntarily and give freely of their time, effort and experience. Accordingly, they receive no remuneration, compensation or reimbursement of any kind for their contribution to the school as members of Council.

Members of Council serve voluntarily and give freely of their time, effort and experience. Accordingly, they receive no remuneration, compensation or reimbursement of any kind for their contribution to the school as members of Council.


Council has the following six sub-committees as follows:

Finance and Risk Committee - chaired by Graham Molyneux
Building and Grounds Committee - chaired by Greg Deans
Diversity, Equity and Belonging Committee - chaired by Delene Mark
Remuneration Committee - chaired by the Chairman of Council
Nominations Committee - chaired by the Chairman of Council
Investment Committee - chaired by Niall Brown

Membership of the various committees is made up of Council members, independent experts in the relevant area of focus for the committee, old boys, parents and members of staff.

All committees make recommendations to Council for its consideration

Elections to Council

In terms of the Act constituting the Diocesan College, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and the Council each elect six members of Council. In practice these days, Council and the Archbishop discuss and agree on all elections to Council.

We are constantly on the lookout for men and women who would like to serve on Council (and its committees) and I would ask you to send any suggestions for nominations that you may have in this regard to me. Membership of Council requires a serious time commitment and passion for the school, as you would imagine. Members of Council are elected for an initial term in office of five years, which term may be extended at Council's discretion for a further five-year term.


Council meetings are held at least quarterly and are attended by the twelve members of Council. The Chairs of the Prep and College Parents’ Associations and the Chairman of the OD Union (the Bishops old boys’ association) attend Council meetings as observers.

In terms of the Act, decisions are to be taken by members of Council only, but in practice all attendees at Council meetings take part in discussions and decision-making. Almost every decision of Council is unanimous.

Parents and others at Council meetings

There are currently six parents of boys at the school attending Council meetings. Additionally, four past parents of boys at Bishops and eight ODs attend Council meetings. There are eleven men and four women in this group.

The Principal, the Deputy Principal, the Headmaster of the Prep School (who also represents the Pre-Prep School) and the school Business Manager also attend Council meetings.

Chairman and Principal

In my role as Chairman of Council, I meet with the Principal weekly to discuss issues that arise from time to time and too establish progress on projects. Additionally, we speak as often is required and I am pleased that we have built a good and honest rapport in the short time we have been working together.

It is sometimes said that the Chairman of Council of a school serves as the closest confidant of the Principal as well as being his harshest critic in private. Managing the reasonable expectations of the community is a delicate job and one no person can do justice to, on his or her own.

Staying relevant while also staying true to our virtuous traditions requires regular and careful consideration, and I believe our engagement with each other and the wider school community is a valuable practice in maintaining this delicate balance.

The Chairman of Council is ex officio a member of all committees of Council. The Chairman of Council also serves ex officio as a trustee of the Bishops Trust, the body that has from time to time raised major funds for Bishops.

Summarized CVs of Members of Council and Observers

As you read through these details, I am hoping that you will feel, like I do, that we are extremely fortunate to have men and women of a very high calibre, with great experience and from a diversity of backgrounds serving Bishops.

Crispin Sonn
Chairman of Council

January 2023