Education in Pinelands

In the early days of Pinelands there were two private school in Pinelands.

The first school started in 1926 when Mrs Bush had opened her house in Central Avenue to 16 pupils. The principal was Sheila Ross the daughter of the Conservator of Forestsliving in the Uitvlugt Homestead. The number of pupils soon rose to 55 forcing the school to move to the Civic Hall in 1928. The school soon came under the Department of Education which built the Pinelands Primary School on Central Square. This enabled the employment of three teachers and 102 pupils to move into the 3 classrooms in 1932. The school continued to expand, and extra classes were being held in the Girl Guide and local Board halls. In 1942 three more classes were built and playing fields created.

In 1934 Mrs Anderson opened the second Private school in a garage at 6 Southway with Miss Nixon as the headmistress. While it was primarily a school for girls, the school permitted boys up to the age of 8 although classes went up to standard 6.  According to the pamphlet put out by the school it offered a liberal and cultural education. The morning kindergarten was named Scan. Extramural lessons were offered for drama, piano, and art. The following year the school moved to Serpentine under the name Scan Lea School. The added name of Lea refers to the open field visible from the house. Eight boarders were able to live on the property in a dormitory and a double bedroom. During World War 2, two sisters were sent from London to Cape Town as evacuees to board at the school. As the school grew, a second house in Serpentine was rented for additional classes. The school closed in 1952.

The need for a second public primary school was recognised and in 1948 the newly built Pinelands North Primary School commenced with 140 pupils and four teachers transferred from Pinelands Primary School. The school had parallel medium classes to cater for the increasing number of Afrikaans families moving into the area due to the establishment of the NGK in Pinelands.

Pressure was put on the Department to provide a high school resulting in Pinelands High School opening its doors in January 1952 with JP Kent as the principal. At the time no desks or benches had arrived, and founder pupils sat on the floor in a prefabricated Building. Over time new buildings were added to the campus with the school hall being opened in 1959. In 1960 the library, the art room, a laboratory, and new classrooms were added. The school badge included pine trees, a book of learning, with the chevron and annulets of van Riebeek. In moving forward, the school redesigned its badge in 2021 to reflect changes in the country.

The number of Afrikaans speaking residents grew especially with the building of the NG Kerk at Central Square. resulting in a formal request put to the Government in 1953. Three years later the Oude Molen Primary School commenced with 93 pupils most of whom were transferred from Pinelands North Primary School. As the building was still being built, the first classes were held in vacant rooms at Pinelands High School. In 1956 the school building was formally opened. This later became the home of a Jewish School and in 1987 it became the Vista Nova High School. A site had been set aside for an Afrikaans High School in Protea Close but was never developed.

The ever-growing population demanded a third English speaking primary school and in 1967 Pinehurst Primary School opened its doors. Initially the school was named Riverside and there were no uniforms nor desks. The school held a competition for the design of a school badge which they opened to the public. The school song was composed by Bruce Gardener, a well-known Pinelands pianist and recording artist who lived a few houses from the school. Each year the school creates a vault for grade 7 learners consisting of school magazines, clothing and a letter from each learner to be opened and returned to each learner when they are in matric. The first vault will be opened in 2022.

In 1969 Christ the King Catholic church opened a private school on their premises with 36 learners. The Pallotti Sisters ran the school catering initially for standards Sub A, Sub B and 1. Sister Vera, from Germany, was sent to England to train and returned to head up the school. Later the Dominican Sister took over the school. It was a feeder school for Springfield and for many years the school transported learners to Springfield. Eventually the school closed due to lack of resources.

The need for a private school in Pinelands was recognized. A house named Cannons Creek was identified in 1996 by a group of teachers led by Carol Barouche, as a primary co-educational English-speaking Christian school. However, the zoning of the property was problematic. Several other sites were investigated including at the Black River project at Valkenberg in Mowbray (later known as the Two Rivers Urban Park) but the His People Church were keen on obtaining the land. A second site near Pinelands Station owned by Garden Cities was identified but in the end Garden Cities were approached to sell undeveloped land on Nightingale Way. This land had been set aside for a new Pinelands police station, but South African Police Services had no intention of using the site. The Cannons Creek Independent School opened in 1997 with 37 Primary school learners. The high school was started in 1999. While waiting for the building to be completed, the school was housed at the Pinelands Club. In 2000 the school moved into their own premise.  The school leases the old Voortrekkers site from the Municipality as their playing fields.

A second private school was started in Pinelands. The land identified was the land in Protea Close which had been set aside for an Afrikaans high school which had not been built. Previously the land was offered to Meerendal Pre Primary for R1,00. The school successfully negotiated the sale of the land from Garden Cities. Once all the approvals had been granted, construction was rapid using the innovative solid wall system made up of UCO Flexaboard fibre cement sheets that are fixed onto lightweight steel studs and infilled with a lightweight concrete mix. In 2017 the school was opened with 5 classrooms. As the school grew, the overflow classes were held in the Congregational Church opposite and in 2020 additional classrooms were approved.

In 1987 Pinelands High School teacher, John Gilmour, started a programme in which Langa students were invited to spend a week at the school. This led to the forming in 1990 of the Langa Education Assistance Program (LEAP) in which students from Langa were provided with support tuition at Pinelands High. In 1997 John became Headmaster of Abbot’s College until 2004 when he left to start the first LEAP Science and Maths School in Observatory. Old Mutual donated classroom space and so the school moved to the Old Mutual Mupine building in Pinelands. By 2013 Mupine housed two LEAP schools. There are now 6 Leap schools around the country plus a LEAP teachers’ training programme to place teachers in new LEAP schools.

The first official nursery school in Pinelands, La Gratitude, had its origins in the Groote Schuur Kleuterskool operating in Rondebosch. In 1945 when it was considering closing, the Afrikaans community persuaded the school to transfer to the Pinelands Civic Hall, becoming the Pinelands Nursery School. The size of the venue restricted the number of pupils to 20 with an eventual waiting list of 60. The hall was also used for other events by the public which added to the need for a dedicated school. In 1961 Garden Cities was approached. Land in La Gratitude had been set aside for a school and was to be developed by a private individual. Fortunately, this fell through, and the land was offered to La Gratitude, and in 1963 the La Gratitude Pre-Primary School moved into their new premises built by Garden Cities.

The need for pre-primary schools continued to increase resulting in La Gratitude having a waiting list of 300 children in 1971. Mrs E Marias supported by 6 others wrote to Garden Cities General Selwyn Myers, requesting that the land in Protea Close, zoned for a school, be granted to a new pre-primary school in the same way that Garden Cities had granted land to La Gratitude. The Board agreed to sell it for R1 if the school could raise the finance, but this was not taken up. She also wrote to the Municipality for land to be donated The Municipality agreed to build a nursery school but on land they owned opposite the Hobbies Club and the Voortrekker site which would be leased to the school. The school opened its doors in 1973. In 1995 a request by the school to purchase the property was refused. A second request in 2000 was successful although the transfer only took place in 2004.

Although on the edge of Pinelands in Maitland, the Oude Molen Technical High School is seen as part of the Pinelands school grouping.  The school had it’s beginnings as part of the Cape Technical College in Longmarket Street in Cape Town. The school grew rapidly to 130 learners and the ned for a new school building was an urgent need. a site on Jan Smuts Drive was identified . Building work started in 1959 with the school officially being opened by John Voster, later prime minister, in 1961.  Oude Molen  was originally a dual medium  school for boys. In 2006 the school opted to become an English medium school and had previously started enrolling girls in 1975.  

Announcing a new school, S.C.A.N. in 1934