St James, Cape Town, South Africa

Star of the Sea School is uniquely situated along a beautiful stretch of  False Bay  coastline in St. James, Cape Town, South Africa.  It is a school with a long history, its buildings having been completed in 1908. It is a Cabra Dominican School, and there were five Sisters and ten pupils when the school first opened on 24 January 1908. By the end of its first term it had grown to twenty pupils, and it has continued to prosper and grow over the years.

The Sisters were responsible for organising extensions to the original buildings and in 1945 a two-storey block, which currently houses the pre-school, was completed. Numbers had increased to such an extent, especially from up-country pupils needing accommodation, that a boarding school and a senior high school became part of the establishment.  The Sisters, always at the forefront of education, saw the need for a pre-school, and this was established in 1970.

Fr Duignam FounderAs the population of St James changed it became necessary to close the boarding school and the high school in 1981 and to concentrate on making Star of the Sea a fine academic school for the juniors. As the number of Sisters decreased, there also became a need to pass on the curatorship of some of the Catholic schools into lay hands. At that stage there were 120 children in the main school and about 40 children in the two pre-school classes.

In 1987 boys were allowed to proceed through the higher grades in the school and a milestone was achieved in 1990 when the first head boy was appointed in what previously had been a predominantly girls’ school. In 1993 the first full time male teacher was appointed and today the school is proud to include gentlemen on the staff, acting as role models and providing special care and understanding for the boys, who make up about half of the pupil population.

In 1998, to commemorate 90 years of education along the False Bay coast and to upgrade the facilities at the school, two classrooms were renovated and a playground built. In 2008, the school celebrated it’s 100-year anniversary, a fantastic achievement!

Today, Star of the Sea School operates as a public school on private property, falling into the special category of a government school “with a distinctive religious character”. The owners of the school property, the Cabra Dominicans, ensure that a distinctive Catholic ethos is upheld at the school, primarily through recommendations relating to religious education, staff appointments and the school’s moral policy.

The pupil enrolment in the main school (averaging about 300 over the past few years) governs the number of teachers allocated by the Western Cape Education Department. Additional teachers are appointed by the School’s Governing Body, using the funds generated from school fees. Through great parent support, word of mouth recommendations, advertising and publicity, the school continues to sustain its numbers and maintain a fine reputation.

Star of the Sea is a sound, well-run, caring school, catering to a very broad community – a microcosm of the population of South Africa.  Built on rock, steady as a rock, it should prosper and grow well into the future.