HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL
A very intriguing fact is that the first principal of the Prep was a woman! Miss Lilian Sprigg was born in Australia, but wisely decided, after visiting the Cape in 1896, that she preferred South Africa. After teaching in the Cape, she was recruited by the Director of Education of the Transvaal, who was trying to build up the standard of education after the Boer War. She started a school, St Augustine’s, in Berea in 1902. This became a feeder school for the High School in 1906, and moved into the present grounds of the King Edward VII High School in 1909. The reason why the Prep is so close to Louis Botha Avenue is that the High School stipulated that we were to be situated as far away from their buildings as possible. Another interesting point is that the Prep, consisting of the great number of four classrooms, was completed and in use about 9 months before the High School.
Miss Sprigg retired in 1916 and Mr Marshall was appointed Headmaster. He had been brought out to South Africa by Lord Milner and had been teaching at K.E.S. Under his guidance the school started expanding. It rapidly outgrew its buildings and so boys were taught at the High School, in St Mark’s Church, and even in a canvas classroom on the dusty playground. However, by 1927 all the classrooms had been built around the quadrangle. A Sports master was appointed and the future of the Prep as an excellent sporting school was on its way. Mr Marshall’s vision of a School Hall, however, remained a dream. After many trials and struggles, he eventually saw the blue prints in 1936, but unfortunately died before having the pleasure of seeing the Hall completed.
Mr Nott followed as Headmaster and his dream was to have the grounds levelled and asphalted. This was only completed in 1949 as the war intervened. He retired in 1950.
History was made when the first Old Boy, Mr Bob Green, was appointed as Headmaster from 1951 to 1965. He introduced the saying of the School Creed at Assembly. It is still said to this day, as it is felt that it embodies the spirit of the school. He was absolutely adamant that the Prep was not “KEPS”, but insisted on the full name as he felt “keps” were worn on the head! This was one very small detail that perhaps showed his commitment to maintaining and upholding high standards in every sphere of the school life. His sudden death was a great loss to the school.
Mr Robinson was appointed Headmaster in 1966. He was untiring in his efforts to inculcate his love of English in the boys. He taught poetry through the school and encouraged the use of the library at all times. He reinstated the participation of the sporting teams in the various leagues. The sports teams continued to play against the private schools and this was when they joined the Saturday league. Unfortunately, due to ill health, Mr Robinson had to take early retirement in 1979. Mr Foote acted as headmaster until December 1980.
Once again an Old Boy, Mr Evans, was appointed as Headmaster in 1981. He tackled many projects with great enthusiasm. The parents were encouraged to raise money for an enormous project. The school library had been accommodated in an enlarged classroom. The junior library was in a prefab room. With the changing role of a library to a Media Centre, a new complex was essential. Mr Evans, in conjunction with teachers and architects, visited many other media centres and eventually a very fine Media Centre was built on the junior playground. The old library became a well equipped science laboratory. A separate Preparatory School magazine was introduced, and this has become an invaluable tool of reference over the years, as well as being a very entertaining and educational magazine. In 1987 Tim Evans left the Prep to accept the post of Headmaster at St John’s Prep.
Mr Foote was the third Old Boy to become a Headmaster at the school and during his time many exciting things happened. The strength of the school has always been in the wide variety of pupils that have been admitted to the school – this has obviously continued with boys of all races being admitted. The school was made more aesthetically pleasing and with the support of the governing body, computers were introduced, as well as a modern, state of the art, Computer Centre, which has always been fully utilised by staff and boys. More buildings appeared on the playground – new grades classes, a music room, an aftercare complex, a Grade 0 house and a Design and Technology Centre. The newest of these; the Indoor Sports Centre which opened in 2011. These have, however, not replaced the “temporary” prefabs which were erected in 1961! Mr Foote retired at the end of 2012, to enjoy a well earned rest!
In 2013, Mr Shead became the Headmaster and has instantly begun updating and changing the lay of the land. He has continued in the tradition of the previous heads in insisting on the high standards of education, morals, manners and sportsmanship. We look forward to the future of K.E.P.S and to see where it take us.
So perhaps in the end, the nostalgia in looking back at the past is no greater than the satisfaction of the present. When you look around, you see how the school has been beautified, you see many boys of all races, enjoying the tradition and solid foundation that the school has been built on and the excitement of all the challenges ahead and of the highlights still to come. As Charlie Mnyandu said when being interviewed after 40 years of service at the school: “The boys are the same, they were naughty in 1949 and they’re still naughty!” One guarantee is that they will continue to be naughty. Naughty, but nice. That is the school’s aim to produce children who can think for themselves and children who know kindness is one of the greatest virtues.
In searching for an explanation of the unparalleled success of this preparatory school, one need look no further than the enthusiasm and devotion lavished upon it by its loyal staff, service of an exceptional kind that goes far beyond the call of duty. Happy is the school that can inspire such love in its staff, in its old boys and the parents of its pupils!
COAT OF ARMS
The school Coat of Arms first made its appearance on the cover of the King Edward VII School magazine in December 1912, and has been there ever since. Forming an integral part of the Coat of Arms are the gold bars on the left that were part of the old Johannesburg Coat of Arms dating back to when the High School bore the name of the Johannesburg College. The book symbolises learning, and the rampant lion and the crown come from the coat of arms of King Edward VII. The school’s motto “Strenue”, meaning “…with all our might!” also forms part of the Coat of Arms.
It is worth remembering what Harry J. Hofmeyr said in his brief history of the school, published in 1934. He wrote “…Our school is a growing educational and civic force. In spite of its youth it has established a high tradition. It has become a power for good. Let us – governors, masters, parents, boys – uphold its honour and fair name and deem it unthinkable that by word or deed, now or ever, any single one of us should bring blemish or stain on its name or reputation …King Edward’s is Worth While!”
A few old boys of note are Judges Goldstone and Kriegler; Gary Bailey, Mich D’Avaray and Richard Gough – who all played soccer in the UK; Gary Player; Kevin Foote Springbok Rugby Sevens; Graeme Smith – South African Cricket Captain; William Kentridge, a leading artist; Steven Falcke, a designer; Ronnie Kasrils and Sir Donny Gordon of Liberty Life
The spirit and dedication to the school is demonstrated by the loyal attendance of Old Edwardians like Mr Pat Cotter, Mr John Faber and Mr Allan Lawson at the various school sports days. Mr Heilbronner never missed an interhouse athletics sports day in over 60 years before he passed away.
WHERE DO THE HOUSE NAMES ORIGINATE?
As soon as your son becomes a pupil at the school he will be assigned a House to which he will belong while in the Prep School. Siblings will automatically go into the same house as their brothers, as will sons of fathers who were at the Prep. Up until the time of Mr Evans, there were only three houses in the Prep School – Anderson, Grimmer and Hofmeyr. Mr Foote, who was in charge of sports at the time, decided that it would be far easier to organise house tournaments if there were an even number of houses, and so it was decided to form a fourth house, Robinson.
Mr A.J. Anderson was a member of the Governing Body of the school from 1914 to the year of his death in 1935. He was the buyer and director of the Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company to whom the Old Edwardian Society will always be grateful, the reason for this being that the ground on which the Old Edwardian Society stands was originally owned by the Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Company (JCI).
Mr W.P. Grimmer succeeded Mr H.J Hofmeyr as the chairman of the governing body from 1936 – 1941
Councillor Harry J. Hofmeyr was the chairman of the school’s governing body from 1912 to 1936. After being critical of the Transvaal education system and the Johannesburg College in 1905, Mr Hofmeyr actually tabled the motion in the Town Council that produced the unanimous vote in favour of allowing the College to buy the Houghton site. He was later to become one of the warmest friends of the school and was invited to serve as a member of the governing body as well as being an honoured guest at all school functions.
Mr Harry Hofmeyr served 25 successful years as chairman of the governing body. Hofmeyr Square in the centre of Johannesburg is named to commemorate Harry J. Hofmeyr.
Robinson was the fourth house assigned to the school in the early 1980’s. It was named after the previous headmaster, Mr Arthur Noel Robinson who retired early, towards the end of 1979, due to ill health.
The colour green was chosen in memory of Mr Bob Green who died in office before Mr Robinson came to the school. Mr Bob Green had first entered the Prep School as a small boy in 1916. By the time Mr Robinson came to the school, there were never less than 150 sons of Old Edwardians in the school. The third generation had begun queuing for admission as far back as 1953.