Schools in South Africa

Schools in South Africa


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Getting settled – schooling
A major factor of relocating your family and choosing where to live comes down to finding a suitable school.

Most expatriate children attend either local private schools or international schools. Several important considerations are involved in making the choice between the two. The choice comes down to personal preference.

Evaluating schools

  • Your Relocations Consultant is an excellent resource for both schooling and housing and will assist you in narrowing the field – matching schooling and communities to your requirements and a reasonable proximity to work and amenities.
  • Conduct objective research, by visiting prospective schools. Ask about teacher’s credentials, discuss the school’s educational philosophy and tour the campus. Ensure that the school adheres and accommodates the needs and wants of your children.
  • South Africa is rich in sports and culture and this is reflected in many of our schools where they may be very competitive. Schools offer soccer (football), cricket, rugby, hockey, tennis, netball and swimming is pretty much a compulsory and competitive sport in the summer. Some schools are less competitive and stronger academically, in the arts, music and drama. It is therefore important to find the right fit for your child.
  • Many of South Africa’s private schools have a religious affiliation (Catholic; Anglican; Presbyterian; Jewish; Islamic) although children of other religions are welcome, the religious affiliation does influence the school’s ethos.

Consider these objective measures in evaluating schools:

  • Class size
  • Percentage graduating
  • Percentage going to college/ university
  • Facilities – libraries, computer and science laboratories, sporting, music, art facilities
  • Teachers credentials
  • Accreditations and awards 

The key is to research options as early as possible. We have provided an overview of International schooling and the South African education system below, with lists of schools and useful websites to assist you. In addition, your Relocations Consultant will be on hand to research availability per you and your child/s requirements, provide guidance, set up and accompany you to selected school appointments. 

Important note: please bring copies of your children’s school transcripts / academic records with you.

School admission and enrolment process

The process is typically as follows:

  • Complete the school’s application form and pay the necessary registration fee.
  • Schools will require a copy of the child’s birth certificate and transcripts from previous school, as well as their immunisation certificates if you have already immunised them against childhood diseases.
  • Most schools require an assessment prior to final acceptance. Your child may be provisionally accepted subject to the assessment test. Arrangements will need to be made for the child to spend 2 hours or more at the school for that purpose.
  • On acceptance, all schools require a deposit – typically at least the equivalent to a terms tuition fees.

Useful tips:

  • If you are particularly keen on a specific high school and your child is still in primary school, it may be a good idea to select a primary school that is a feeder school to the respective high school.

Useful websites:

South African education system

If not attending an international school, children of expatriates usually attend local private schools and occasionally good government schools. It has become increasingly difficult to gain entry to both private schools and government schools, because waiting lists can be quite lengthy.

  • Most private and government schools are based on the British system of education and have a curriculum. Students are placed in appropriate grades based on age and an assessment conducted by the school.
  • The entry age to primary schooling is 6 years old.
  • Depending on the school, the language of instruction is mainly English.
  • The academic year runs from January to December.
  • The duration of primary and secondary education is 12 years and students must pass the Senior Certificate or “Matric” exam at the end of the 12th year to successfully complete their secondary education and qualify for university. Most schools require the wearing of school uniforms.

School hours and extra murals
Typically, school hours are 7.45am – 2.30pm. Most extra mural activities take place after school hours.

Pre-schools, kindergarten & nursery schools
There are many options for pre-school education of children under the age of 6 and it is typical for children to attend pre-school for at least two years prior to starting their formal education:

  • Kindergarten classes at the international schools – admission from 4 years old.
  • Grade 000 (3-year olds), Grade 00 (for 4-year olds) and Grade 0 (for 5-year olds).

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