“There is no question in my mind,” says Richard Stanley, Headmaster of The Ridge School in Johannesburg, “that boys learn differently to girls. A boy-centred environment is right for them in terms of academic excellence, as well as encouraging them to grow into men of integrity.”

This primary school has come a long way since it opened its doors in 1919 to just 13 boys and two members of staff. Now, despite being close to celebrating its centenary, it has never been so vibrant or in such robust health.

The school has a Christian ethos and a house system, while a charter encapsulates its values. The school’s motto, “where boys are known and grown”, is lived like a mantra. “By better understanding the boys,” says Stanley, “our teachers are able to deliver a more personalised educational programme for each boy.”

Ridge boys attend from the age of six up to the age of 13. High achievers are stretched to fulfil their potential and boys are afforded the opportunity to attend prestigious schools in South Africa and overseas. “Our teachers achieve results comparable to anywhere in the world,” says Stanley. “It is about exciting and empowering youngsters through offering a vibrant teacher-driven programme of learning that is appropriately enriched with a carefully managed screen-based use of technology.”


Holistic harmony

The music department is a source of enormous pride and a reason why many parents choose the school. No fewer than 360 of the school’s 504 boys play an instrument, and all functions feature music performed by pupils. As with many traditional South African schools, sport plays an important role in the physical and social development of Ridge boys, allowing boys to experience friendships built around common goals and shared challenges.

Stanley is all too aware of the levels of inequality in Johannesburg, and he is actively strengthening outreach links to schools in the area. “In addition to the countless initiatives launched by the School Parent’s Association,” says Stanley. “our boys share ‘care-to-learn’ time with these children in ways that allow for the sharing of blessings and the building of relationships that are essential for the greater good of the community.”

As The Ridge School approaches its centenary, its boys’ contributions to a changing South Africa underpin its educational ideals. “A holistic education that plays to the strengths in boys creates individuals who grow uniquely and with purpose,” says Stanley. “We have a huge role to play nurturing boys who can build bridges in life and embrace diversity.”