SGB Chairman’s Annual Report 2020
Report from Mr D Mundell: SGB
Good Morning Parents of Maritzburg College, Governing Body Members, Mr Luman and Mr Rob Pennefather, the school’s legal representative.
I would like to start off by taking an excerpt from my speech at the School Governing Body (SGB) Dinner in February this year:
“Maritzburg College as an educational institution is truly blessed,
– from the most stunning and historic grounds,
– to an engaged parent body,
– a passionate Old boy community,
– an extremely proud learner body
– and last and probably most important, a staff compliment that is the envy of any school, government or private!
But, as in life, we can never rest on our laurels, we must press on, to improve at any and every opportunity. Leadership is not a popularity contest, as one is mostly judged by people who most often don’t have any context and/or situational knowledge. We are all on the same team and must make sure our contribution stays based on our role, our responsibility and most importantly our service!!!”
Who would have thought that the dreaded Covid-19 would hit and turn our world upside down a month later!
I am reporting back to the parent body on a subject-by-subject basis, let me start with Covid-19. This crisis has robbed many people of many things during the year, and if we look internally – no more so than this year’s 6th Form Learners. Devastating doesn’t even come close to expressing the deep sadness we feel for all of them. Regarding the effect of Covid-19 on College, other than many things not taking place this year, the school has sailed through relatively unscathed – just a couple minor and major bumps and bruises. This is partly due to the fact that we acted swiftly to protect College in these uncertain times. A special sub-committee of the SGB was constituted in May to assess the threats that lay before us, for both 2020 and 2021 and to make recommendations.
This committee, which was aptly named the ‘Covid Opportunity Team’. Under the Chairmanship of Mr Bruyns, presented the SGB and the School EXCO with a well-researched and constructed document, with recommendations that will stand College in good stead for years to come. The other part is you, the parent body, and your amazing commitment to College. I have spoken to many parents during the year that have been thrust into a deeply difficult financial position, but their commitment to College has not waivered, I salute you all – this school is truly blessed. We are preparing for a tough 2021 but are certainly up for the challenge.
Maritzburg College is big and at times, most times, complicated. Being part of the SGB for the last 4 years, one often finds oneself just dealing with what’s in front of you – not necessarily what’s important.
The one major silver lining of this year, amongst the organised chaos, we have been given the opportunity to also look at what is important, and College is now embarking on a “Back to Basics” initiative.
The SGB is reviewing College’s Strategy, all the while making sure we include all voices and stakeholders, to reconnect, as we plot and update the roadmap for College’s future.
We secured the services of an independent research company to handle the research portion of this initiative, by way of in person focus groups and not surveys, it is felt to be more beneficial to hear from the stakeholders in person.
There is a representation from all of College’s wide stakeholder groups and we are currently in the midst of the process – we look forward to the feedback and to see how College moves forward.
Another important aspect is the College Culture, for those Old Boys sitting here today, you would understand exactly what I am meaning. Instead of this culture living in the hearts of the boys and old boys, we wanted it recorded in a document, so everyone can see what it is about. This document that has been circulated, which in simple terms, can be explained as our acceptable behaviour bible, who we are and aspire to be – it’s the DNA of the RBW in written form. This document is extremely important for the future of College and will protect what we all hold so dear and makes us unique. So, when new boy arrives at College to start his journey, he will sign the College Credo, committing himself to the College Culture and when he finishes 6th Form, he is inducted into the MCOBA. We need to be proud of who we are and what we stand for!
Social Awareness Forum
This was launched in response to some political activity on our campus a couple years ago, its primary goal is to give our boys a mechanism to deal with normal cultural friction, as well as to equip and prepare them for the big wide world out there. All the while keeping it real and focusing on authenticity. It is a work in progress and there will be continual improvements made until all the boys feel comfortable.
College prides itself on being an equal opportunity institution, there are no victims in College, whether they are learners, staff or parents. We are all privileged to be part of the RBW family and what it stands for. These family ties that are forged during one’s time at College, will be with us and the boys for the rest of their lives.
College Business (CB)
I have answered many questions regarding the purpose of CB and what its role is. To give a brief overview, schools of 30 years ago are very different to schools of today. There are now many more commercial aspects and its now not just about education. In this vein, CB was formed to take all the non-core educational activities such as marketing, eventing, database and anything not educational and group them in a separate division to create efficiencies. That is the primary role of CB. Another very important aspect of CB is that it offers ‘central services’ to our associated bodies, hopefully taking the day to day burden of operations off their shoulders. I need to stress that the independence of our associated bodies is critical to our success and must be protected.
Not only is CB looking after existing needs within the school but is also taking the lead on many other important projects that are and soon will be put in place.
This is going to be our fundraising focus for the medium term and will be driven by the Maritzburg College Foundation. A decision was taken earlier in the year to pause this initiative during Covid and we are hoping to resume activities early in 2021, that being said, the fund is already sitting at just under R5 million!
This initiative is to create a long-term endowment, where we want to create a sizable ‘war chest’ for College. We are then able to utilise a percentage of the yearly endowment investment income, for projects within the school, always looking to keep the capital intact. A special mention must be made of the efforts of both Duncan Randall and Craig MacKenzie in this regard.
BEE/CSI (Section 18A)
This is an offering that has long been in used to attract potential donors. This is having serious opportunity amongst corporate funders to be able to harness their spending in a manner to benefit College, especially in the realm of Scholarships. The infrastructure is busy being incorporated and a Company and two NPO’s have already been registered in this regard. A marketing document is also in the process of being created, which will explain the product in more detail and its wide-ranging field of opportunities.
We are working with the various entities from Government and the Municipality, to secure the use of the athletics stadium, the hockey stadium and have access to more fields, we are hopeful and are making great progress.
I think it would be important to note that we were fortunate to be able to keep all Forms at school once they did return, and that the internal Control test program went ahead smoothly and was completed. The required curriculum for the year was also completed in all Forms prior to the Control Tests, and we felt that our 6th Form were well prepared to write the NSC examinations, despite the challenges of the year. Importantly, and thanks to Mr Luman, we are also fully staffed for 2021, which during these times is an achievement.
This aspect as one can understand was decimated by the lockdown, but there have been some positive developments. Due to Mr Smith moving to College Business, we have appointed a new Director of Rugby, as well as Internal appointments of Directors of Aquatics, Basketball and Soccer. This will add new impetus and direction to the relevant sporting codes. It is also been made policy that our directors of sport need to be teachers at Maritzburg College, thus weaving them into the very fabric of our school.
Pupil well-being during and after lock-down and the effect of no sport/activities at College were the main focus of the Housemasters and mentors this year. Programmes, talks, messages during lock-down and mentor classes focused on the initial anger of the loss of so much and how to set new goals for the year. The boys generally responded well and showed resilience during a challenging school year.
The projection for the start of 2021 is that Maritzburg College will have 491 boarders and 843 dayboys. The projected intake of 2nd Formers is 260, which is precisely as hoped-for, given the slightly elevated intakes in 2019 and 2017. We are also busy looking at over time decreasing the total number of learners on Campus and increasing where possible the BE numbers.
The reduction in school time in 2020 meant that – if one can find at least some sunlight in an otherwise quite sombre year – the amount of severe breaches in 2020 by College boys of the Code of Conduct in the day school and boarding houses was remarkably decreased, when compared to preceding years. Long may that continue in 2021.
I would like to firstly add my thanks to all Parents for their support during this turbulent year. With 500 boarders in the BE we felt that the procedures and routines we put in place helped us be as proactive as we possibly could. The isolation facility on Goldstones as well as the routines in the SAN and dining hall, although routinely intensive, made it possible for us to keep all the boys as safe as we could.
The boys too played their part and we are appreciative for their support. I am concerned that 2021 is going to be similar scenario, especially at the beginning of the year. There are so many important aspects of boarding life that are being sacrificed as we move through these turbulent times.
We will continue to do all we can to make each boy’s boarding experience as rewarding as we can whilst keeping their health and safety a priority. I would like to make special mention of Mr Ryan Kyle who took over the reins of the BE at the beginning of the year. I think that we can all agree that he has had a baptism of fire and he has stood up to the challenge. We look forward to seeing his effect on the BE when things return to some form of normality.
Staff accommodation is an important tool to be able to attract top level educators and I’m happy to confirm that 3 more units were completed during this year. Another exciting project is the media centre extension which includes some more classrooms and a larger cafeteria, final approval has been given and construction has begun. We are also in the midst of looking at the viability of solar power on campus, initial report backs are looking very promising and if all goes to plan, we should be able to make a favourable saving on our electricity costs. Another project that I get questioned about often, is the state of the parking on the terraces. This project has been discussed in length and is in process of having plans finalised and as soon as funds are available, we will proceed. We must take the view that the maintenance of our facilities and necessary capital projects are not a luxury, but rather add to the wonderful facilities for all to enjoy.
The SGB is made up of 17 voting members (9 parents, 4 elected staff, 3 elected learners and the HM), there is a 3-year cycle which comes to an end March 2021, when elections will be held for the next 3-year cycle. During the year we had 2 resignations, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Delaney who was Chairman of the CB portfolio and had played an important role in launching this initiative and Mr Robin Westley, who was Chairman of Admissions, Discipline and Legal Portfolio. Both of their contributions were immense and highly appreciated.
These members were replaced by Mr Ashley Cotterrell, who will be taking over as Treasurer and Mr Tsepang Setipa, who has been appointed Chairman of the CB Portfolio.
Just to clarify the various portfolios, which is where a lot of the SGB input takes place:
Admissions & Discipline – Mr Thaver
BE – Mr Culverwell
Co-Curricular – Mr Mundell
College Business – Mr Setipa
Facilities Development – Mr Woodburn
Finance – Mr Bruyns
Governing Body Foundation – Prof Finnie
Strategy – Mr MacKenzie
On the SGB, we also have a representative from the MCOBA, MC Foundation, Goldstones Club, MC Finance and College Business.
I would like to thank the members of Governing Body who give many, many hours of their time, representing you the parents – especially during this extraordinary year we’ve (who would have thought I would be asked to make video messages to communicate to parents). There are 4 members who are stepping off at the end of the year as their sons are currently in 6th Form.
Mr Mark Bruyns
Mr Joe Culverwell
Mr Kass Thaver
Mr Mike Woodburn
Our appreciation is immense, and your time given to Maritzburg College has not gone unnoticed and is appreciated. As replacements, we welcome the following four gentlemen onto the SGB as from the 1st of January 2021, they will serve until elections in March.
Mr Angus Findlay – Admissions & Discipline
Mr Richard Quinn – Co-curricular
Mr Craig Rhodes – BE
Mr Rob Warr – Facilities Development
We welcome you onto the team and look forward to your expertise and contribution.
College also remains extremely fortunate to have many passionate and committed Old Boys and I would also like to thank the Maritzburg College Old Boys’ Association and related bodies for their highly valued support.
As I draw to a close, I would like to make a more direct reference to finance. The budget being presented here today is the culmination of months of hard work and much has been done to set what is considered a very reasonable fee increase, given the circumstances, while NOT compromising on quality. Thank you to all budget heads, the finance department (Linda Roets, Sven Jager), EXCO, the Finance Committee of the SGB, led by our Treasurer, Mr Mark Bruyns.
I would personally like to thank Mr Bruyns for the way he has guided the finances of College through these tumultuous times, we have been dealt with situations that have never happened before and will probably never again happen to College. He has stood firm on what is best for College and has left College finances stronger foundationally and better prepared for the future – thank you Mr Bruyns. Unfortunately he could not be with us today (we sent him to rehab to recover). So Mr Cotterall, who will be taking over from Mr Bruyns as Treasurer, will present the budget in his place.
Lastly, I would like to discuss our erstwhile Headmaster, Mr Luman. As the leader in an educational institution, it is difficult to deal with the very many curve balls sent your way in normal circumstances – add Covid and myself things become a bit more intense. We both value our sets of responsibilities, so this year has been testing to say the least. Sir, you have always had my full support, we didn’t always agree on everything, but I guess that is how good decisions are made. I saw first-hand the stress and strains you endured this year and commend you in guiding College successfully in 2020 – thank you.
I wish everyone a blessed Christmas with their families and an extremely restful holiday, especially our teachers – recharge those batteries.
Pro Aris et Focis
Mr Doug Mundell: SGB Chairman