Usasazo High ahead of the pack

The no-nonsense Usasazo High School principal, Patrick Barnes, is happy to have surpassed all other Khayelitsha schools' matric results.

Usasazo High School has emerged as the best performing school in Khayelitsha, with a pass rate of 94.8% in the 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams.

The school bagged the number one spot out of 20 Khayelitsha schools with 59 out of the 147 pupils who passed earning a Bachelor’s degree pass, which enables them to enrol for university.

They also recorded 59 Diploma passes and 29 Higher Certificate passes.

Principal Patrick Barnes was excited about the achievement and revealed his creative trick for keeping his teaching staff and pupils happy so they could achieve great results.

He confessed that it has been his dream to top the list and he has been trying for years to surpass the other Khayelitsha schools.

Mr Barnes said this was not easy in a school challenged by social ills and poverty.

But if he thinks last year was difficult, he has to think again because he has just registered 250 Grade 12 pupils for 2020 compared to 160 in 2019.

“I have my work cut out,” he told Vukani, nodding.

School principals are all too aware of how difficult it is to deal with township schools. But Mr Barnes has planned ahead and has aranged more support for staff and pupils.

Usasazo joined the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) School Improvement Initiative.

Mr Barnes also joined the principals’ dialogue that is offered to discuss challenges faced by schools and come up with solutions.

As if that was not enough, Mr Barnes created a management monitoring timetable and took his staff to a leadership and management course at UCT.

He did all that to capacitate his teaching staff and empower them.

“My firm belief is, you must first create an environment for teaching and learning to take place. This environment has to be conducive. I am very strict when it comes to my work especially for school functionality. My teachers know that and I am also aware that I will never be everyone’s cup of tea.

“But I know in the end people will see the results of what I am preaching.”

Mr Barnes believes that all schools can achieve what he has achieved with his school, but only if they stick to the rules. He said school hours should be used productively.

There should be no children roaming around during school time. Teachers need to be good managers and be in classes when they have to be.

He said there will always be challenges.

“I have a problem of parent involvement and that of drop-outs. We have a number of drop-outs at the school because of drugs and social ills. Absenteeism is also a challenge but we are dealing with it,” he said.

Mr Barnes was also quick to hail his staff for the great work they do for the pupils and school.

He is also adamant that his staff will deal with the 250 Grade 12 pupils this year but only if the pupils attend school regularly.

Khayelitsha schools which have done particularly well in 2019 with pass rates of above 80% are Manyano High School (93.8%), Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT) (90.4%), Intlanganiso (88.7%), Siphamandla (87.1%), Chris Hani (84.6%), Thembelihle (82.5%), Masiyile (81.9%) and Iqhayiya (81.8%).