Revolutionary new school opens in Sunningdale

Revolutionary new school opens in Sunningdale

Rallim Preparatory, one of Cape Town’s most innovative and progressive primary schools, opened in Sunningdale this year.

More than 200 children enrolled in R120 million Rallim Preparatory

More than 200 children from Cape Town’s Western Seaboard suburbs and further afield, ranging from those in Grade 000 to Grade 6, have enrolled in Rallim Preparatory, one of the City’s most innovative and progressive primary schools, which has opened in Sunningdale this year.

Surrounded by 9 ha of school grounds, Rallim Preparatory is a new R120 million complex designed specifically to accommodate the school’s groundbreaking methodology. Principal Colleen Millar has described the school as “A modern learning environment set to transform the educational landscape through an innovative and progressive approach in its singular vision to redesign education for the 21st century.”

Housed in light-infused buildings covering a footprint of more than 5 087m2, the school is entirely designed and built to be in line with its alternative pedagogic system. The progressive teaching approach is based on the school’s specific model which comprises the Reggio Emilia approach in the pre-preparatory phase, and the Socratic approach underpinned by a strong technological bias in the preparatory phase.

Prominent on Berkshire Boulevard in Sunningdale, the project, with its collection of integrated structures and spaces, is the result of a partnership between the developer of the suburb, Garden Cities, and the school’s management, Rallim Preparatory Modern Learning Environment.

Garden Cities, which celebrates the centenary of its establishment this year, has a history of having produced 16 major suburbs and housing developments around the Cape Peninsula and the northern areas starting with Pinelands, in 1922.

Chairman of the company, Sean Stuttaford, the great-grandson of the founder, Richard Stuttaford, says that Rallim Preparatory is part of the broad obligation the board and executive of Garden Cities feels to improving learning and training within its area of activity in South Africa.

“Rallim Preparatory, with its revolutionary approach must take a lead in changing the way education is practised, and by its example, make it more effective and relevant for all the children of South Africa,” he says.

John Matthews, Group chief executive of Garden Cities, under whose stewardship the promotion of education has thrived in the company, says the decision to invest in the development of a private school was in line with a holistic approach to the development of its suburbs, all of which included the provision of a comprehensive infrastructure for residents.

“Helping to provide top-notch schools in our suburbs is historically appropriate and helps to promote excellence in education to which we are devoted.”

The non-profit company has an on-going commitment to education through its provision of school sites in its developments, a bursary programme for tertiary study, participation in a UWC science learning centre programme, and the building of school halls for under-resourced schools in the Western Cape. One hundred halls will have been completed in the company’s centenary year.

While further extensions to the Rallim Preparatory buildings are planned, currently, the school can accommodate 968 children in the pre-preparatory and preparatory grades. A high school will follow.

Designed by architects studioMAS, the school buildings are highly unconventional with largely integrated spaces.

“The learning areas are divided by moveable walls, providing infinite flexibility,” says Millar. “The spaces are connected by shared, generic learning hubs, and large areas of glass. It’s a collaborative vision that creates a learning environment in line with the advanced skills that we will be teaching our students.

“We are in effect, redesigning education for the future.”