Questions & Answers

Does HeronBridge Provide Clean Drinking Water Fountains?

As you are all aware, we do not have a municipal water connection at HeronBridge, but purify our own water. This purified water is regularly tested and is 100% safe for drinking but it does not taste great. We have tried everything we can to improve the taste but have not yet been successful. To find a solution for pleasant drinking water throughout the school, we have recently drilled a borehole. We are very excited to inform you that we now have piped this water to all of the playgrounds and kitchens on site so everybody has access to it. We have installed nearly 5km of piping for this exercise. The quality of this borehole water will be constantly monitored. All water in blue painted taps or in bathrooms or kitchens is still safe to drink even though the taste is not great. All red taps are river water and, as per the signs attached, this water is NOT for drinking. 

What Kind of Food Options are in the Tuck Shop?

At HeronBridge College, focus is continuously given to creating a healthy school nutritional environment in which our children practice healthy eating behaviours. Increased attention is being given to the role of the school and the tuck shop in the promotion of healthier lunches for children. Furthermore, we are in the process of evaluating the current status in terms of our children’s purchases and general food intake. We are investigating ways in which to increase individual knowledge and awareness so that our children make well-balanced, nutritional choices both when purchasing from our tuck shop or bringing packed lunches. 

Grant and Sam Marshall, our current operators, have met with different vendors in order to see what other healthy snacks are available and feasible to sell and are in consultation with a health nutritionist to assist with identification of food and beverages that offer maximum nutritional value. To this end the following rules and options are already in place at our tuck shop; our prep school children may only purchase high sugar food items or drinks from second break onwards and healthier snack options such as biltong and popcorn are available. We believe that a ‘healthy body is a healthy mind’ and therefore an environment that supports this in word and action is an ongoing focus of ours.

What Are The Driveway Access Procedures For HeronBridge College? 

In order to improve the flow of traffic and safety we have implemented a few changes. Among these is dividing the entrance into two lanes with two booms, where the left lane will be for any vehicles with access discs and the right lane will be for all vehicles without access discs correctly displayed on the driver’s side of the windscreen. We aim to install scanning devices soon to scan both the driver’s licence as well as the car licence of those entering without access discs. Please keep an eye on school communication for more details in this regard and for other security enhancements to follow. Please remember to check that your car is locked even though we have installed anti-remote-jamming devices. Please report anything you notice that could have security implications immediately, so that appropriate action can be taken. 

Does HeronBridge College Have A Hockey Astro Field?

We have signed a contract to install a Hockey Astro field, commencing in the last term of 2016 to be ready for the 2017 hockey season. The exact positioning of the Astro on our site posed significant problems as the K52 road servitude, which is 70m wide, encroached onto every possible site at the sports complex and, due to the huge cost of the Astro (at around R10 million), we could not take the chance that the road would not happen. 

We have finally made a plan to move existing facilities around to accommodate the Astro and these changes will commence in September 2016. This involves shifting parts of the main cricket oval and athletics track and one rugby field (moving them closer to the tennis courts), in order to fit the Astro half on the existing main field and half on the recently filled area below the main field. This will mean we do not lose any existing facilities and the Astro will be outside the road servitude, above the flood line and outside an electrical servitude. This is a complicated solution but the only other options are on the existing hockey and cricket fields (we would lose two of each which would cause huge disruption), or on the new property which could take two years to get rezoning for sports facilities. The Astro has been a dream for a long time and we are excited about commencing soon. Watch this space for more information! 

What Is Our Long Term Facility Planning with the K52 Road?

One major factor impacting all long-term facility development is the proposed K52 road servitude which runs through the middle of the Sports Complex opposite the school. The authorities can provide no information regarding when and if this road will ever happen (it has been on Gautrans master plan for over 50 years). We have been trying to secure suitable land for sports facilities (both new and to replace those impacted if the new road happens) for many years now. In the last year we have secured a 25ha site above the Sports Complex while disposing of unusable land across the river in part exchange. This will meet all our land needs into the future. We still have to apply for rezoning and there are subdivisions currently in process. This road servitude has been the cause of much frustration in terms of locating the proposed Astroturf hockey field (see Astro). 

Is HeronBridge College Part Of The MySchool Card Programme?

HeronBridge College is privileged to have parents who continually dig deep to assist us in taking our school to new levels. We could not offer the excellence we do without this ongoing provision. The ‘MySchool Card’ funds have made a significant contribution towards improved facilities for all our pupils. The policy on expending this money is that children across all three sections of the school should benefit. To date the funds have been spent on:

  • The Acacia Sound System
  • The Electronic Scoreboard
  • Grandstands across the school
  • Outside tables and benches
  • Gazebos
  • Baobab furniture and more recently
  • Security beams surrounding the property

The income from your purchases average out at about R16 000.00 per month for the school, a healthy sum. Just another reason to visit Woolies again this afternoon. 

How Does HeronBridge College View Safety & Security?

We, as a Safety and Security committee, feel it necessary to define clearly the schools’ responsibility and the parents’ responsibility with regards to the safety and security of your children. This is relevant from the time they enter our school grounds until the time they leave in the afternoon. Please note that the General Information below is applicable for Pre-Prep, Prep and College.

1. General Information For Pre-Prep, Prep and College 

  • Pedestrian traffic within the grounds - bollards have been set up within the grounds, clearly indicating where children may or may not walk. There are definite, assigned routes to the different areas in the College. Children are to cross our internal roads at the designated areas (zebra crossings). All motorists are expected to adhere to the speed limit of 20kph in the school grounds.  
  • Pool Area - this area is locked at all times and is only opened by the teacher on duty. Teachers have to sign the key in and out, thus ensuring that the gate remains locked. 
  • River Access - the river is completely fenced off at the Pre-Prep and Prep side (except below Baobab) and children are forbidden to go anywhere near the river unless they are under strict adult supervision. 
  • School Bus Service - we have a fleet of three 65 seaters, two 32 seaters and two Quantums. These buses are driven by our well-trained, professional drivers and managed by our transport manager, Richmond Masimbira. We also have external service providers, Bus 2000 and KM Tours, who assist us daily with morning and afternoon routes. These providers are dedicated and committed to providing us with a safe and effective service. All of the bus drivers have the proper driving permits. All of the drivers have cell phones and WhatsApp groups have been specifically set up according to bus routes. These have proven to be an excellent method of communication. Our buses are monitored by tracker devices and our larger buses are fitted with cameras. We are pleased to inform you that we have three afternoon bus assistants to assist us with the Pre-Prep and Junior Prep pupils. We have a team of Grade 12 bus monitors who have proven to be highly effective in assisting us with supervision and discipline on the buses. All of our buses are supplied with a first aid kit. 
  • Security - we are currently serviced by TRSS for both access control and armed response. Our gates are opened at 06h30 and close at 17h00 during weekdays. The booms remain closed except during peak traffic hours. We have just installed a second entrance boom so that we are able to separate vehicles with and without access control discs. Those vehicles without access discs will use the right hand lane (closest to the guard house) and will have to sign in. We are currently investigating an access control scanner and hope to have this implemented shortly.
  • First Aid - we are committed to providing our pupils, staff and visitors with excellent first aid when required and are pleased to inform you that we have a large number of staff and pupils with Level 1 and Level 3 first aid training and certificates. Our Pre-Prep has five teachers trained in a pediatric-specific course and two Level 1 trained teachers. Our Prep school has two Level 3 administrators and seven Level 1 trained teachers. All of our College staff completed a CPR course in 2014, and the College has four Level 1 and two Level 3 teachers and four Level 3 trained administrators. The College pupil first aid team consists of one Level 3 and 18 Level 1 trained pupils. Our school is adequately stocked with first aid kits. We also have emergency first aid kits located at the Sports Complex and at RiverView Field. We have two defibrillators, one in the College Reception and one at the Sports Complex. ER24 is our emergency medical services provider and they respond to all of our emergency needs. They are contracted to provide first aid at various sporting functions and events according to the needs of the college. 
  • Cell-phones, iPads and other valuables - we would like to stress that cell phones and iPads are entirely the individual’s responsibility. The Prep pupils are required to hand their phones in to their class teacher at the beginning of the school day. These phones are locked away and are returned to the pupils at the end of the day. The College has designated ‘Bag Zones’ which are monitored by cameras. The pupils are aware of these zones and are encouraged to leave their belongings within them. Lockers are also available for the College pupils. This can be arranged through the College reception. It is important to note that if any valuables are brought to the school, the school is not responsible for them. 
  • Lost Property - over the past year we have noticed that there has been a marked increase in the amount of lost property that is not collected. Lost property is delivered to the Uniform Shop daily. Children doing extra murals in the afternoons are required to take all their bags with them if they are playing matches at home, or are practising. The cleaning staff have been told that if they find anything in the classrooms to leave it there, and to make sure the classroom is locked once they leave. If the cleaning staff finds things outside the classrooms, they must bring it straight down to the Uniform Shop. 
  • Leaving Early - all pupils who need to leave school during school hours will be required to obtain a sign-out slip from their relevant school reception office. This slip must be handed in to the security guards at the gate and only then will the child be permitted to leave the property. (College: see School Communicator- College Resources) 
  • Parking - anti-car jamming devises have been installed at the Sports Complex, Pre-Preparatory and Preparatory school parking areas. We would like to remind you please to ensure that your valuables are not left exposed while you park and that you double check that your vehicle is locked before leaving it. 

2. Pre-Preparatory 

  • School Hours - The following school hours apply for each Grade: Grade 00 & 000 start at 08h30 and finish at 12h30 (teachers are on duty from 07h30). Grade R start at 08h00 and finish at 13h00 Monday to Thursday, and at 12h30 on Friday (teachers are on duty from 07h30). 
  • Waiting Class - we have a morning waiting class by special arrangement. Please notify the Pre-Prep office should you need this facility. The waiting class runs from 07h00 until 07h30; thereafter the teachers will be present in their classrooms. If you are unable to collect by the specified times in the afternoon, the children will wait with their class teacher until 13h30. If you child is not collected by 13h30, they will be signed in at Aftercare and you will be billed accordingly. 
  • Locking of gates - the Pre-Prep gates are opened from 07h30 - 08h30 and again from 12h30-13h30. A staff member will be on duty at the gate to ensure that no child/ren leave the area without adult supervision. At 08h30 every morning the gate will be locked. It will remain locked until 12h30. Should any parent need access to the school during this time you are requested to phone the Pre–Preparatory office to make appropriate arrangements prior to the time. The gate will be locked again at 13h30. From 15h00 the Aftercare gate must be used for access to and from the Pre-Preparatory school. 

3. Preparatory 

  • The Official School Day - please note our official school hours in the Prep School are as follows: Grade 1 and Grade 2: 07h40 until 13h40 (Friday 13h20). Grades 3 – Grade 7: 07h40 until 13h20. 

Our Co-Curricular programme for the Grades 3 to 7 begins at 14h00, with a finishing time dependent on the particular code. Teachers will be on duty during these times, as well as during first and second break in the playground areas. There is no supervision after school for children waiting to attend music lessons in the music rooms situated below Baobab. Parents are kindly asked to be responsible for their children’s safety as there is river access and a lot of traffic collecting and dropping off children outside these music rooms. 

  • Early Mornings - in the mornings, before school starts at 07h40, teachers have been assigned to supervise in the Junior and Senior Prep blocks from 07h00. HeronBridge College cannot be held responsible for any child who is dropped before 07h00. We encourage all children to come in and take their suitcases to their classrooms and to remain within the confines of these blocks. Other teachers will not be on duty as such at this time; however, should there be any problems, and children may come to the office area to obtain help from staff. 
  • After School between 13h40 and 14h00 - in the afternoons there will be a window period between 13h40 and 14h00 prior to the beginning of the Co-Curricular programme and Aftercare. During this period the children will not be supervised by the teachers; however, should there be any problems they may come to the office area to obtain help from staff. 
  • After 14h00 - the school will take responsibility for all children participating in official Co-Curricular activities and for those attending Aftercare. If children are not participating in an official Co-Curricular activity, or attending Aftercare, the school cannot take responsibility for them after 14h00. Children wandering around the property will automatically be booked into Aftercare and charged accordingly. 

4. College 

The school reception area closes at 16h00. Please note that the majority of school staff leave the property by 17h00. The security guards cannot take responsibility for children who are not collected at the appropriate time. 

What Is Being Done About The R114 aka HeronBridge Road?

The R114 road has been a headache since the school started and we have spent the last 16 years talking to Gautrans in this regard. The R114 is a provincial road and does not fall under the jurisdiction of Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) but rather under Gautrans. The funding comes from the Province and is allocated on the basis of most urgent need, and so we keep getting shifted down the waiting list as other roads are deemed to be in more critical need of repair. Over the years we have received promises from Gautrans which have not materialised and the only reason seems to be non-availability of finances. The fact that this road is provincial complicates many issues such as routine maintenance, which falls under the Krugersdorp Roads Depot, who are very under-resourced and so struggle to keep up, and law enforcement which also falls under Provincial control not Metro Police. However, Metro have assisted us with pointsmen on duty at Cedar Rd even though this is not their jurisdiction. 

HeronBridge has consistently taken the view that consultation is better than confrontation with regard to the road issue. Public confrontation would almost certainly lead to poor publicity for the school and it is doubtful if Gautrans could have resolved the lack of funds issue even if pressured publically. This move could easily have antagonised the very people we need to upgrade our road and schedule us into their programme. It is also pertinent that many other roads in Gauteng are in far worse state than ours, so they could easily maintain that any funding received should be prioritised elsewhere, hence the need for good relationships. We are obviously extremely frustrated as we have been let down on numerous occasions and, in many cases, I think we have been promised things just to dismiss us. But Gautrans is just one cog in a big wheel with too few resources to do the job properly, as those above consistently waste resources and remove budgets without consultation. We have met repeatedly with all officials, we have petitioned Gautrans, numerous parents have offered help with contacts and none have had any impact. But our continued contact with officials and our persistence seems to have finally resulted in a breakthrough! 

There is light at the end of the tunnel! We were invited to meet with all the relevant officials, including the design consultants, at their head office in Koedoespoort in Pretoria recently. Many of the officials were surprised to see us at the meeting as the public are not invited to such meetings; however, the Director of Roads advised the meeting that he had invited us as they had let us down so many times unavoidably and wanted to have our input into the design and other processes. It was eventually agreed that they would redesign our section of road to match the section north of us which has recently been rehabilitated to include storm water drains and shoulders. They will get this design change approved and proceed to tender with the aim of commencing work at the latest April 2017. The expected cost of our section of road from just north of the school to Malibongwe Drive exceeds R80 million so this is not an insignificant project! 

Another issue we have badgered Gautrans about for years is the intersection of the R114 and Cedar Rd being a staggered junction and extremely dangerous (and frustrating)! We have a letter confirming, after a traffic count, that traffic lights are necessary but are pending availability of funds. However, at our last meeting, Gautrans have advised that Cedar Rd is about to be widened from Witkoppen all the way to the R114, into a four-lane road along its entire length, paid for mostly by developers. This could commence even this year and one of the features of this project is the realignment of Cedar Rd and the road to Lanseria, and the installation of traffic lights. This will make a huge difference to our school traffic. We await developments here!

Whilst we are talking to Gautrans regarding the rehabilitation of the road, we are also in touch constantly with the Krugersdorp Depot to do essential repairs to avoid accidents. This includes signage, pot hole repairs, bridge repairs, pedestrian access on the bridge, speeding etc. We have had limited success in this regard and, again, the lack of resources is frightening. We will continue to work on this aspect. 

Parents and staff have made suggestions regarding improving the safety and convenience of this road and we have taken all these seriously. Some issues we considered are: 

  • Pointsman at school entrance – this was tried many years ago. Metro refused as it was outside their jurisdiction, Outsurance was extremely expensive and unco-operative, and when we managed to get Metro to try it for a while it actually created more of a delay at the entrance. The volume of traffic at any school causes delays and ours is no different. We have found that cars approaching from Diepsloot generally give way to cars turning into the school. 
  • Robot at school entrance – as this is a Provincial road this is not possible without years of traffic studies and red tape, and Gautrans have stated that they will oppose this option. We would also have to bear the full cost of this, including paying for the traffic studies and surrounding road upgrades, running into several million rand. 
  • Alternate entrances or exits to the school – as this is a Provincial road the only access point we are allowed onto this road is at the main gate. This entrance was built according to Gautrans specifications. They will not permit any other access points onto the R114. 
  • Robot at Cedar Rd – this is covered above. 
  • Pointsman at Cedar Rd – this is monitored by the school continually and we are generally getting better service from Metro now, with their officers on duty for longer and more consistently. 
  • Law enforcement on the R114 – this is an area where we have had little success! The general lack of law enforcement on all roads in Gauteng is a huge problem and our situation is made worse by the volume of traffic in peak times and the resulting frustration of taxi operators trying to make a living in particular. The work on both William Nicol and the N14 Krugersdorp Highway has further increased traffic on the R114 as construction there has caused gridlock. Both of these projects are nearing completion so hopefully our traffic volumes will decrease, which in turn will reduce congestion. 
  • Coffee shop for parents to avoid traffic – this was instituted with access under the road bridge to the Sports Complex. 
  • Concrete barrier above gate to prevent taxis overtaking on left – these were installed courtesy of a parents’ contact. Barriers along fence have been erected to protect the school. 
  • Petition regarding the road – several years ago we collected 1500 signatures and submitted the petition with no response from authorities, despite regular follow-up. 
  • Petition to State President – you will remember that when Jacob Zuma came into power he opened a line of communication directly between the public and himself and invited the electorate to communicate directly with himself. We submitted a very detailed document to him without response, despite numerous follow-up reminders. 
  • Public campaign – as mentioned above we have consistently held the view that this will do more harm to the reputation of the school than good. It will also destroy any relationship we have with the authorities and could adversely impact the scheduling of our road in the priority listing of Gautrans. We continually reconsider this opinion and will do so in the future too. 
  • Bus service – one of the primary reasons for the bus service was to remove the frustration of the traffic from parents and limit our traffic footprint on the road. Over the years the bus service has proved very popular and more routes have been added, with almost a third of our learners using the buses in the mornings. 

We understand the frustrations of the road and are doing all we can to resolve this problem. Unfortunately, once they start working on our road, the situation will get dramatically worse until the project is complete! At least at this stage there will be an end in sight that will make the temporary inconvenience bearable. As management we are continually praying for the safety of all our stakeholders on this road daily, as well as for the resolution of the problems mentioned above. Please join us in this regard. 

Why Is There A Shift in Education?

Education around the world is moving away from a content focus and shifting towards the development of critical thinking skills such as reflection, analysis, creativity and planning. We, at HeronBridge, believe that this is a trend we should follow in order to prepare the learners for a future where information is easily accessible through the medium of technology. It is imperative that as educators we equip the learners to be able to understand and manipulate this information. There is an increasing demand for flexible intellectual skills, which are self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored and self-corrected. We have begun the journey to strive towards producing life-long learners who are being guided to develop the above skills so that they can become effective communicators and problem-solvers in a world that demands this of its successful individuals.

Over the course of the last few years and in 2016 in particular, we have been evaluating our current curriculum. We feel that much of our content is of an excellent standard but we do believe that there is room for growth in the area of developing critical thinking skills. The Junior Prep have devoted much time already to adjusting their curriculum and the Senior Prep will continue to investigate what this approach means in a practical manner in their curriculum over the course of 2017.

Through much investigation, we are convinced that this is best teaching practice and will work well in conjunction with our current National Curriculum.

Further information on this will be discussed per grade at the Parents’ Orientation Evening at the beginning of 2017.