- Independent Schools
- Searches & Drug Testing
- Starting a New School
- Withholding Reports
|A Brief History of SAHISA|
In December 1929 representatives of ten Anglican Church schools met at St Andrew’s School in Bloemfontein. All were Heads or Vice-principals. Seven of the schools were in South Africa, and the others were in the then Southern Rhodesia, South West Africa, and in Swaziland.
Apart from academic topics, matters discussed included religion, sport, prefects and fagging, initiation and bullying, cadets, relations with government departments, a register of teachers in church schools, three- or four-term years and the treatment of sick children.
In 1930 at the same central Bloemfontein venue the first formally constituted meeting of the Conference was held. Members came from 28 schools. (It is of interest that nearly twice that number of current member schools – several of them with more than one SAHISA member Head – had been founded by 1930.)
It was decided that membership would be limited to Heads, not ‘representatives’, and so it has remained, though till 1939 an acting Head was permitted to substitute for the Head.
At its next meeting in 1932 the Conference extended membership to Heads of other private Christian-based schools. The official title of the Conference went through a number of permutations from ‘The Conference of the Heads of Church Schools’ in 1930 until it became the ‘Southern African Heads of Independent School Association’ (SAHISA) in 1999. ‘South’ and ‘Southern’ exchanged places more than once. ‘Heads’ replaced ‘Headmasters and Headmistresses’. ‘Church Schools’ gave way to ‘Private Schools’. In the 1960s and 70s the ponderous ‘Independent Private Schools and Subsidised Private Schools’ was used, mercifully later to give way to simply ‘Independent Schools’. The abbreviations, ‘Conference’ and ‘HMC’, were applied to each title in turn.
Though Heads of Prep Schools have been involved from the beginning in 1929, separate meetings under separate chairpersons have been held only since 1960. The primary and pre-primary membership of ISASA/SAHISA has grown enormously. The Proudly Primary conferences are by far the largest held under the auspices of these associations.
The conferences of Heads were held biennially from 1930 to 1960, with a wartime gap between 1940 and 1944. Since 1960 the conferences have been annual events, moving clockwise year by year to venues in the regions – Western Cape, Central, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, and from 2004 including North East. In 2005 Conference coincided with the International Convention of Principals which met in Cape Town and the Western Cape’s turn was moved accordingly.
The staple of the conferences has always, of course, been education, both academic and all that goes to make up the full range of activities, values and essence of schools. But even as far back as 1944 schools were feeling the pressure of political, financial, social and legal influences. In 1945 Anglican Archbishop Darbyshire appointed a commission comprising Heads and members of governing bodies of six Anglican schools to enquire into such matters. What emerged was a Standing Committee of these schools which undertook to look after the interests of all Conference schools. For thirteen years the Standing Committee was not only a political watchdog but co-ordinated Conference schools at governing body level and developed financial and other developmental projects.
Meanwhile, also in 1945, ten Natal HMC schools formed ‘The Private Schools Association (Natal)’ with similar objectives in their province. Heads and governors were both involved, and substantial benefits, including financial grants from the province, flowed from this move.
In 1974 the Association of Private Schools of South Africa (APS) took the place of the Standing Committee, as well as of the Natal association, with all Conference schools as equal partners. In 1988 the APS was restructured and named the Independent Schools Council (ISC) with Mark Henning as a full-time national director. He was succeeded in 1999 by Dr Jane Hofmeyr. Throughout, HMC continued with its primary purpose of professional and educational matters. The Heads organisation has been served by a succession of part-time General Secretaries: CC Tugman, CHS Runge, JHE Besant, Mary Tugman, NCH Ferrandi, Vera Paver; and since 1978 full-time appointments: Graham Clarke, Dougal Turner, Frank Simmonds and John Lobban, the latter two as Deputy Directors of ISASA with membership as their chief portfolio.
A few figures illustrate how HMC/SAHISA membership has grown. The initial 28 in 1930 reached 48 in 1970, 91 in 1990, 177 in 1999 and 299 in 2004. The current (2008) membership is 347. The number of schools who are members of ISASA is now 704. Note that not all Heads of ISASA schools join SAHISA, and many ISASA schools constitute sections of a total institution with only one Head.
In 1999 ISC was dissolved to create the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) and at the same time HMC adopted a new constitution and became the Southern African Heads of Independent Schools Association (SAHISA). Schools that were established on a basis other than Christian were accepted as members. In addition, SABISA (Southern African Bursars of Independent Schools Association) is, like SAHISA, a constituent member of ISASA.
The 2008 SAHISA Conference is the 62nd in a long and evolving tradition.