After 56 Years, Steenberg’s Floreat Primary School Finally gets a hall

Archway Foundation continues to help redress educational inequality in W Cape

A new hall, costing more than R6 million, in the grounds of the 56-year-old Floreat Primary School in Lute Lane, Steenberg will be inaugurated on Saturday April 24, as part of the Garden Cities Archway Foundation programme to redress historical educational inequalities in the Western Cape. The school has been without a hall since it was established, and was among the currently more than 600 Western Cape schools without one.

Nearly one million schoolchildren in the Western Cape still don’t have a school hall.

There are 902 learners at Floreat and they, with their 25 teachers and Principal Noel Isaacs, have for the first time been able to count this essential feature among the assets in their school’s grounds. Many of the teachers, including Principal Isaacs, have largely taught in schools without a hall for their entire careers so far. All of them believe that a child’s completely rounded education cannot be achieved without access to their own school hall.

‘Now,’ says Isaacs – ‘the possibilities are endless!’

The hall is one of 108 built by the Garden Cities Archway Foundation since its launch 17 years ago when the company and its foundation went solo to finance the buildings. A more recent joint financing venture with the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) has meant an acceleration of the delivery of the halls. Science centres are also among the assistance given by the Foundation through collaboration with the University of the Western Cape (UWC).

By the time Garden Cities celebrated its Centenary in 2019, the goal of 100 halls and more had been achieved and the project was gaining momentum. The not for profit company has built 14 residential suburbs in the Cape Peninsula in the past century, and a percentage of income from home sales and commercial initiatives is used to build the halls.

However, financial constraints caused by Covid put the brakes on the venture during 2019, but nevertheless, four more halls were built during that time, and two more are under construction.

Guests at the inauguration of the Garden Cities Archway Foundation hall at Floreat Primary School in Steenberg

School hall a basic necessity – Principal

Mr Isaacs has been Principal of Floreat Primary for 14 years and is in his 35th year as an educator. He believes that the basic necessities when planning a school should include a hall, because without one, elements of a broader experience and learning are lost.

His qualifications to judge the needs for a good education are excellent, including successful study for a bachelor’s degree in Education, a master’s degree, and graduation from the UCT Business School.

He says, among the benefits of the hall are the possibilities for nurturing the arts among the pupils and speaks proudly of the school’s excellent band, and opportunities for staging theatrical and musical events, aside from the uses of the hall for indoor sports and activities.

Unfortunately in the present circumstances, the school cannot offer the local community use of the hall for fear of Covid infection, but he believes in the near future the hall will be able to be shared with the community, and there will be a  potential for fundraising to benefit the school.

Garden Cities has the remarkable record of having established 14 suburbs in Cape Town and being responsible for the building of more than 20 500 homes. They cross the entire economic spectrum from starter homes, for those who have never owned a property, to houses for middle-income families in immaculately structured urban environments.

The company has a long record of corporate responsibility both to the residents of its suburbs and the wider community. Education is one of the cornerstones of its vision and school sites are an important component of the suburban mix of facilities planned into Garden Cities developments.

Halls for historically disadvantaged schools

The company established the Garden Cities Archway Foundation specifically to provide halls for historically disadvantaged schools battling with unequal facilities in Cape Town and the province.   

‘The goalposts have changed, but not our goal, to level the playing fields for the schoolchildren of the Western Cape,’ says Garden Cities Group CEO John Matthews who has driven the work of the foundation since its establishment 17 years ago, after he had taken over as CEO.

Principals and teachers, children and their parents, and entire communities have benefited from the halls that have become the pride of every school where they have been built.  To date, more than 110 255 children have benefited from new Archway halls on their school grounds. The children have revelled in the opportunities that the halls offer them.  Indoor sports, dancing, theatrical productions and musical events have all become possible, along with the more obvious benefits of school assemblies in the shelter of the hall against the cold, wet Cape winter and the searing summer heat.  The halls are used as exam venues and offer space for large-scale teaching programs.

Young dancers at Floreat Primary School, Steenberg entertain guests at the inauguration of their new Garden Cities Archway school hall in Steenberg

Archway Halls linked to academic improvement, equal opportunity

Matthews says that from the beginning, an improvement had been noticed in the academic performance and morale of the children attending schools where Archway Halls have been built.  ‘Garden Cities’ objective is to help towards eventually, in this  way, to create more equal opportunities for all Western Cape schoolchildren,’ he says.

Page link: Schools we have helped

The Archway Foundation welcomes the participation of other Cape companies in the funding of the halls.  ‘Education is the key to stability and financial security for everyone in South Africa, and as corporate citizens it’s our responsibility to help redress the inequalities of the past and give all the children we possibly can, the opportunity to reach their full potential,’ said Matthews.

John Matthews can be contacted on (021) 558 7181.

New school halls for this phase of development are: