Choosing a High School in the Western Cape

Choosing the right high school can make the difference between a happy and successful academic future for your child and years of declining marks followed by poor career prospects.  There are two main things to consider when choosing a high school:

1. Is this school a good fit for my child’s personality, interests, abilities? (Happiness factor)

2. Is this school the best that I can afford in my area? (Academic success factor)

Teenage years are a very powerful identity forming time. Teens look to their peers for identity and values and they weigh these up against what they have absorbed from their parents. A bad fit high school can leave a young person feeling very vulnerable.  What makes a “good fit” is very individual but it includes personality and interests as well as race and family culture.  You can also add geographical location and transport to school as “good fit” factors .  For example, one of my own boys chose to go our nearest local high school because he likes to ride his bike and have his friends close by and we live in the neighborhood. It also fits for him because they have a great music department and he plays the trumpet.  My other boy chose a school that was a train ride away.   It fits for him because he was looking for some independence and space from our family. His school encourages the learners to be responsible for their own lives. (Parents never write sick notes or late notes). He likes this. He is also a lover of beautiful spaces and he likes their gardens.  Happiness factor.

The other question parents need to ask is – where is the best school that I can afford in my area?  This blog focuses on helping parents get that answer.  All data is for government schools in the Western Cape collated from public websites.

Most schools are pretty quick to mention their matric pass rates and slower to offer the details that make up this pass.  This is understandable as it tends to be a media focus, but far more important than the pass rate  is the bachelors pass rate.  In the past the bachelor pass was called a matric exemption. A Bachelor pass allows the learner to apply for tertiary studies.  Research shows us that the further a young person gets with their education, the more likely they are to find employment and the higher their salary will be.

As a parent considering high school enrollment, you should definitely be investigating the bachelor pass rate.  The graph below helps you do this.   If you click on the graph it will open in an interactive program called Tableau.  Tableau allows you to edit the data to show only schools in a particular fee band or to select a particular school from the “high performers” drop down menu.  Only schools with Bachelor pass over 60% are named on the graph.

From SAILI’s perspective, you don’t need to pay extraordinary amounts of money to get a good public school education. But you do need to shop carefully. Many schools attract students via reputation and cosmetic things like fancy uniforms.  You can see from this graph that there are a lot of schools sitting below the 60% line and some of these are charging substantial fees and offering sport and music and other nice looking things but not producing academically.

Apart from Bachelor performance, it is important to consider drop out rate. Research shows that the very worst thing that can happen to a young person’s education and career prospects, in South Africa, is dropping out of school. The second worst thing is not getting a Bachelor pass.  A quick way of checking drop out rate is to look at the school’s profile on the Western Cape Education Department’s  WECD FIND A SCHOOL Site.

Take Livingstone High School below for example: we can see from the data that the school has roughly the same number of grade 12 students as grade 8. This more or less tells us that drop-out here is non-existent.  Also this website shows fees, contact details, the subjects options that the school is offering and the number of students currently enrolled in each subject.

High maths enrollment is a good sign that the school is pursuing academic excellence.  You can also ask the school directly for how many code 7s or As they achieved in their matric for a particular subject.  SAILI looks for 10% of kids writing to be in the top performance band.

FIND_A_SCHOOL Livingstone






















The renowned scientist and politician Benjamin Franklin said “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Your child’s education is probably the biggest financial investment you will make in their future.   Like anything else important you buy, you will want to get the best fit product at the best price.  Take the same mindset with you when you go school shopping and set your child’s feet firmly on the path of learning.




28 replies
  1. samantha-lee mars
    samantha-lee mars says:

    hi Sam Christie
    Please could you build similar dashboard for the Western Cape Primary Schools, ie school fees in proportion to litnum(systemic or ANA test results. I applaud your work for high schools (can it be updated with latest results). As parents we need value for money assessment tools like yours given the fees some schools charge, u often don’t know whether its worth paying such exorbitant fees (usually just so that your kid doesn’t sit in a 38-40 learner class.

    Kind Regards

    • Sam Christie
      Sam Christie says:

      Thanks Samantha-Lee,

      You make so many good points here.

      The data we used to make the High School view was available publicly – we could download it from the WCED website, crunch it a little and link it to the school fees data which is also public.
      Sadly since then the WCED has stopped releasing data in ways wee can usefully use (I can only assume that they are reluctant to do so).

      As far as primary school data goes, there is nothing really useful that is publicly available. Schools receive their ANA and Systemic data and can choose to share this with parents etc at their own discretion.
      This makes it impossible to prepare similar views for primary school.

      In September last year wee did the best we could with primary school data – really only fees and location and decided not to post a blog about it – you can see it here.

      Regardless, I will make a data request to the WCED and see what they have to say about releasing the required data.

      In any event, SAILI does a great deal of data capturing in the course of our recruitment and have a great deal of insight into the primary school system and may be able to publish data based on this rather that rely on the WCED data.

      All the best and thanks for your feedback.

  2. eduard peter debus
    eduard peter debus says:

    Looking for a bursary at the tamboerskloof german school 7 class.hoping for your assistance and help
    Eduard Peter Debus

  3. Thembi Mothapo
    Thembi Mothapo says:

    Hi my name is Thembi , I have a son who is a talented Cricket player and is going to high school in 2017. Since February this year I have been applying for sports scholarships without success and I also applied to other schools and no luck yet. The schools that offer the best sporting opportunities are out of my league in terms of affordability and I am panicking since time is not on our side. Could somebody help my son please.

  4. tracy
    tracy says:

    i would like to know how to go about applying for a bursary for my daughter for high school in 2018 i know its still another year to go but i want to know were to start with this we live in cape town

    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, You are too late to apply with SAILI for 2018 however Students for a Better Future will open in Jan and Leisure Education Trust will also open then. You should contact them.

  5. munera
    munera says:

    hi my name is mynera titus and my daughter is going to grade 6 and im already looking for a good school for her but the problem is myself and my husband’s not working.she deserves to go to a good school csn snybody help with some advice or just help please

    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, If you are in Cape Town you can apply to SAILI for a scholarship for high school. Applications are open in September and the form will be on our website.

  6. Sylvia
    Sylvia says:

    hi my son is in grade 7 and I would like to apply for a bursary for next year when he goes to High School. I also want a good school for him but I can not afford so can u please help me the bursary. The school which I would like him to attend are these Grooter Schuur, Westerford, St Joseph’s Merit my list goes on.

    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      SAILI is closed for Scholarship applications but you can contact Leisure Education Trust or Students for a Better Future.

  7. A Knight
    A Knight says:

    Hi. I have to make a decision between 3 schools, Edgemead High, Milnerton High and Westerford High.
    Which schools would you recommend in order. He is very strong academically with a natural affinity for Maths.

    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Based only on academic performance: 1. Westerford 2. Milnerton 3. Edgemead. In reality though you also need to consider cost, travelling distance and school culture. It is very hard to get into Westerford so make sure you also apply somewhere else if that is your number one choice.

  8. B
    B says:

    Hi We have relocated recently and are struggling to find a school with good learner discipline in our area -we live in Plattekloof- the department has asked me to place my children at parow primary .Will appreciate any advice.

    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      We have had good experiences with:
      St Augustines RC
      De La Rey St, Parow Valley, Parow, 7500, South Africa
      +27 76 945 3795

      De Vrije Zee
      Richmond Estate, Cape Town, 7460, South Africa

      To be honest we don’t get a lot of insight into the Northern Suburbs schools. You could also try contacting Kay Mason Foundation, as they work on your side. Or phone a high school you like and ask if they can recommend a feeder school.

  9. R Rathanum
    R Rathanum says:

    Good Day

    I am relocating to Western Cape . Looking for the best cost effective high school for my daughter grade 11 and son grade 8 . They are A aggregat achievers in all subjects Art , Maths, Physics etc .Looking For school with great passion and dedication and great teachers .Offering sport like sailing , Golf, and tennis etc .Music , piano and all music instuments . Overseas ventures , national science .and all subjects participation .

  10. Nonkosi Sithole
    Nonkosi Sithole says:

    hi my name is Nonkosi my son is in Grade 9 but is not performing good in Florida Hoerskool, Ravensmead in Parow im so worried for him by now, i am looking the best school for him around Khayelitsha please assist.

    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, It is quite hard to change schools in Grade 9, particularly if your son is not doing well and if you are looking for a good school. You can try at Thandokhulu 021-6867823, in Mowbray. Chris Hani 081-3368701, in Makhaza. If you can afford fees then there are more options. I notice that Florida is dual medium. Both those schools I am recommending are English medium. If you need Afrikaans options, come back to me. Kath

  11. Mzukisi
    Mzukisi says:

    Hi my is Mzukisi my son in grade 7 at Constantia Primary and i’m looking for the school for him high school for next year can you please help me.

    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Unfortunately it is quite late now to be looking for a high school. Many schools have closed for applications for 2018. However, you could try Silikamva in Hout Bay or Steenberg High in Retreat. Bergvliet High sometimes accepts late applications for high achieving learners. If you would like to discuss further you can email me at or whatsap on 0613904470 Kath


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *