Stutterheim High: Since 1866 - Still going strong
Schooling in Stutterheim may be traced back to approximately 1866. Historical sources
indicate the existence of an Anglo-German school near Kropf's mission station, Bethal.
The school was known as the Third Class Undenominational Public School. Formal
instruction was given to pupils in reading. writing, reckoning and geography during a
four-hour school day.
The development of the school was affected by the economic circumstances of the time,
and it was not unusual for the school to close its doors owing to lack of funds or for want
of a suitably qualified teacher.
It appears that between 1866 and 1888, some 18 teachers had come and gone, only one
of whom (a Mr F. Rahn), had remained for three years. Records show that a new school
house in Stutterheim and a residence for the teacher had been completed in 1879.
The status of the school was upgraded to that of a second class undenominational public
school in 1885. The enrolment at the time stood at 54, and the school qualified for an
During 1888 Mr J. J. de Clancey Walsh took charge. The poor condition of the school
building gave cause for concern, and although much correspondence with the
superintendent of education followed, a new building was not erected until 1905.
During this period (1880s) the inspection of schools was carried out by more senior
teachers who were paid by the Department of Education to inspect the smaller country
and farm schools. It was thus the task of the local teacher in Stutterheim to visit and
report on the progress of the work being done at the smaller schools in the district.
An interesting feature, the system of pupil teachers, is mentioned in records of this
period. Pupils who had passed standard four (later extended to standard five) could
serve an 'apprenticeship' of five years in a government school, assisting the teacher
while receiving daily instruction themselves for one hour of the day. At the end of the
five year period, an examination was written and the elementary teacher's diploma was
awarded. The presence of many such pupil teachers is recorded in documents relating to
the Stutterheim school.
The Rev. R. Agar-Wood was appointed to the local school in 1898 and remained until
1902. His successor was Alexander Sinton. It is reported that education in Stutterheim
had found itself on a more secure foundation by this stage. The enrolment of the school
stood at 127 pupils who received instruction up to the standard seven level.
Attention was given to raising funds for the new school building to be erected. This
building, which was erected between Brownlee and Louisa Streets, was opened in
October 1905. At the time, it consisted of three classrooms plus a larger room which
could be partitioned with movable wooden partitions as required. It remained this size
for 20 years before additional rooms were added.
Statistics reveal that only 11% of children of school-going age in the Cape attended
school during this period. The School Board Act of 1905 saw the introduction of
compulsory school attendance for children between the ages of seven and 14 years. An
attendance officer enforced school attendance in each district.
During 1905, pupils enroled at the school in Stutterheim numbered 127, while a staff of
four teachers and five pupil teachers was recorded.
In the absence of a system of written examinations, pupils were 'presented' for passing
by the inspector upon his annual inspection of the school. The annual inspection reports
contained information relating to the general progress and standard of work being done
at the school as well as statistics of pupils presented and percentage of pupils passed.
Mr Sinton retired as principal in 1909. His successor was Mr R. de Lacy White. Schools
were now commonly referred to as public schools, the term 'undernominational’ no
longer being applied.
The years 1917 and 1918 saw school attendance drastically affected by measles and 'flu
epidemics, the latter at its peak causing the school to close its doors for a four-week
period. (Something the scholars and teachers of 2020 know quite a lot about.)
During 1920, the title of the school was changed from that of Stutterheim Public School,
Intermediate (A3), to that of Stutterheim Secondary School. The first school badge
comprising three S's intertwined was introduced. The enrolment of the school sat at 145.
Mr F. Fullard became principal in 1929. By 1934 the status of the school had been raised
to that of a high school and from then on the name Stutterheim High School was
adopted. The first senior certificate examination was written in the following year.
Additions to the school building continued, and by 1944, eight classrooms and two tennis
courts had been added. By 1948, the first parents association was formed at the
instigation of Mr A. F. Moore, a teacher of English and history at the Stutterheim High
School. Three years later, staff members became part of the association and the
Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) came into being.
A hostel committee was established with the objective of building a new hostel. Existing
hostel facilities were inadequate and a lack of accommodation resulted in any
prospective boarders enrolling at schools in neighbouring towns.
During 1948/49 the two houses, Amatola and Kumakala, were established to provide for
inter-house competition in both sporting and academic spheres. Mr Fullard retired after
23 years' service. Mr A. F. Moore, a staff member for seven years, was appointed to the
principalship from the beginning of 1953.
In 1952, the town of Stutterheim adopted the armorial bearing of its founder, Baron R.
von Stutterheim, as its coat-of-arms. It seemed appropriate that the school badge should
bear a relationship to the town coat-of-arms. A year later the design of the school badge
was altered to reflect this relationship. The motto, Fide et Labore (By faith and hard
work), was added.
The school grounds were beautified with the planting of trees and shrubs, and annual
events such as the school bazaar and the school concert came into being. Building of the
school hostel started in 1961. while several additional classrooms, storerooms, and a
new woodwork/arts block were added.
The old school building, which had been used during the 1890s and which now houses
Siyakula Senior Secondary School, was no longer adequate for all of the growing school’s
needs. With the total enrolment of the school at 520, plans for the building of a new
school on a new site capable of providing all the necessary facilities were underway.
In 1970 Mr A. F. Moore left Stutterheim to take up a senior position in the Cape
Education Department, having rendered a total service of just over 24 years to the
school. Mr T. F. Hepworth assumed duty as principal in 1971. Further necessary
extensions were made to the hostel during this time. After two and a half years, Mr
Hepworth resigned to take up duties elsewhere.
Mr P. H. Moore, son of Mr A. F. Moore, was appointed as principal in 1974. The school
enrolment stood at 620. The construction of the present school building started on a site
off Mountain View Drive just below the golf course, the foundation stone being laid by
Mr A. F. Moore. The present school was officially opened in August 1976 by Dr P. S.
Meyer, Director of Education. This site provided adequate space for sporting facilities
that would be developed over the coming years.
The school complex now comprises fields for athletics, rugby, cricket and hockey, cricket
nets, courts for tennis and netball, and a 25m swimming pool. The beautiful setting
with the peaceful view across the wooded slopes of Dohne Peak is known and loved by
townsfolk and visitors alike.
Under the leadership of Mr G. Untheid, who took over the mantle of Headmaster in
1993; a new hall was built onto the Junior School wind of the building to accommodate
all of the many activities that this section of the school engages in. In 1996, two
computer labs were opened and these have been kept right up to date so as to ensure
that scholars are prepared for all of the challenges of the computer age.
In 2009, Mr A.C.M. Clegg was appointed principal. As Headmaster, he introduced the
annual Stutterheim High School and Rance Timber Enduro Cycle Race. This event has
become a major fundraiser for the school and takes advantage of the spectacular
surroundings and views enjoyed by this “rural school with an urban vision”. With Mr
Clegg’s passing, Mr P.P. Swanepoel assumed the office of principal in 2013.
Today, the school continues to grow and adapt as it has over the last 155 years.
Investments into continuous classes and education when Eskom and municipal
electricity supplies fail were made in the form of a generator for the school and the
hostel respectively. With these two machines, the variability of energy supplies does not
affect the flow of education. Recently, facilities to accommodate LSEN scholars were
installed. Major renovations were conducted on the swimming pool facilities and
spectators can now sit under shade during galas on those 35°C days in summer. And,
most recently, the school acquired a new car for when a bus would be superfluous.
Armed with a strong heritage, a sure sense of identity, a clear vision of the future and a
firm seat in the community, Stutterheim High School has every reason to be confident
for the future. In another 155 years, scholars and teachers will look back at a school
firmly rooted in tradition and solidly prepared for adaptation.
Adapted from an article that appeared in the Mercury (11 May 1989)
Written by Mrs HH Boucher
Adapted and updated by Mr DS Potter