Kingswood college celebrates 125 years of excellence

BY STEPHANÉ BOUWER

When celebrating the past, taking stock of that which has gone before and imagining the future, is inevitable.

In the 125th year of the existence of Kingswood College, a pertinent question is how the college will be remembered in another 125 years from now.
Founded in 1894, Kingswood College derives its name and ideals from the 18th century College established by John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist Church) in Bristol, England in 1748. Kingswood College is one of the oldest Methodist educational institutions in South Africa with roots in the days of the 1820 Settlers.
The Salem Academy, founded by the Methodist minister to the 1820 Settlers, William Shaw, was established in Albany in the 1830s. The Academy was subsequently moved to Grahamstown where it was renamed the Shaw College.
What was eventually to become Kingswood College, started out as the Wesleyan Collegiate School for Boys and moved to its present site in Burton Street in 1896.
Kingswood College has been a co-educational school for more than 40 years, with girls first being welcomed to the school in 1973. This was a turning point in the history of the school as it was not only a necessary step in affirming a commitment to diversity, social equity, and inclusion, but equally importantly, this innovative step was prompted by the realisation that Kingswood was more than just a school and a place. Kingswood desired to become a family constituted by both boys and girls

Kingswood School House circa 1897; the first school house which is now a home-away-from-home in the form of two boarding houses for Kingswood boys
What was eventually to become Kingswood College, started out as the Wesleyan Collegiate School for Boys and moved to its present site in Burton Street in 1896.
Kingswood College has been a co-educational school for more than 40 years, with girls first being welcomed to the school in 1973. This was a turning point in the history of the school as it was not only a necessary step in affirming a commitment to diversity, social equity, and inclusion, but equally importantly, this innovative step was prompted by the realisation that Kingswood was more than just a school and a place. Kingswood desired to become a family constituted by both boys and girls.

A changing world

The Kingswood landscape has changed dramatically since its founding in 1894. This landscape has not only changed physically, but also socially and educationally. In its 125th jubilee year, one needs to look to the past and be cognisant of the fact that the Kingswood College of today, is one that has been built on the foundations laid by those who have gone before: its teachers, support staff, pupils, parents and the broader Kingswood community. The successes of the past have been utilised as stepping stones towards a cutting-edge education, geared and responding to the many educational, social and technological challenges and demands of our exponentially changing South Africa and a world experiencing more rapid change that ever in the history of the world.

Formulating a new way of ‘doing things’

Kingswood has recognised the need to rethink the way young people are educated. Although a solid understanding of traditional subjects is crucial, that is no longer adequate. Individuals need to be prepared for an ever-changing world by assisting them to be forward-thinking and adaptable to their surroundings. When tomorrow is unknown, learning a broad range of life skills is essential.
To this end, a strategic plan to take the college to 2020, was designed by the newly appointed college head, Dr Colleen Vassiliou, in collaboration with staff, pupils, parents and members of the school council. This bottom-up approach of formulating a strategic plan, is in itself ground-breaking and collaboration, relationship building and a shared vision are the cornerstones of making this plan a success.

Where character is built

The Kingswood College model of education is informed by the strategy of “Educating for Life”: a holistic approach where excellence is inspired in all aspects of a pupil’s development including dimensions such as heart, mind, body and spirit. In this way the college strives to equip pupils for the demands of life after they have completed their school career.
It is the policy of the school to provide a safe family environment in which every pupil is afforded the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. In line with this, Kingswood celebrates individuality and differences; supports pupils in character development; nurtures leadership skills; promotes confidence development; assists pupils in the acquisition of critical thinking and problem-solving skills and encourages empathy and a compassionate approach to others, in an effort to produce resilient, self-reliant and successful individuals.

Ongoing progress

Innovation made it possible for Kingswood to flourish over a period of 125 years. One recent example of meeting challenges and seizing opportunities by means of innovation, was the founding of the Kingswood College Leadership Institute which pioneers leadership education in South Africa. The collaborative, academically rigorous and dynamic courses offered by the institute, aim to involve and benefit, not only the pupils, but also parents, staff and the community at large and testify to Kingswood’s commitment to educating for life. Another example of ongoing innovation at Kingswood, is the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship project (ICE). This initiative is based on a philosophy that will inform greater innovative, creative and entrepreneurial skills across the curriculum. Some of the most exciting add-ons to the traditional curriculum include the introduction of robotics in Grade 8 and the hosting of the first Junior Engineers for Africa ( JEFA) “Shake-up” at Kingswood, involving pupils from the pre-primary phase through to Grade 11. Future projects include aquaponics, the implementation of DigiTV and setting up a Kingswood radio station.

A first of its kind

Kingswood has in this year launched its character curriculum and, in doing so, became the first school in Africa and one of a handful in the world, to formalise character education in this way. The college strives to produce principled, independent, confident, socially adjusted and passionate matriculants with tenacious self-reliance who will grow and flourish throughout their lives. Vassiliou describes this approach to education as follows: “Positive education states that the role of a teacher is to not only teach content. The role of a teacher is to teach THE PUPIL content. In other words, first teach the pupil and then teach the curriculum. This training or teaching of the pupil is the teaching of character.” Vassiliou believes that: “the only way we can make a significant difference in our country is to develop ethical leaders, who are individuals of character”.

2019: An important moment

While much has changed on the Kingswood campus over the last 125 years, its pupils have always been known for their spirit of courage, determination, generosity and happiness which characterise life at the college. The warm, family atmosphere of Kingswood College is distinctive. The co-educational environment in which boys and girls can mature together from pre-primary through to matric or the bridging year, provides pupils an opportunity to develop healthy, balanced attitudes and relationships which will equip them for the complex world they will have to face after having left school.
In its Jubilee Year, Kingswood College honours all the members of the Kingswood family who contributed to the school’s past successes and celebrates its great history by strategically planning to meet the challenges of the next 125 years.

Stephané Bouwer is the marketing and branding manager at Kingswood College.

Category: Winter 2019

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