It was a happy day for Camps Bay Schools as the Camps Bay Preparatory Campus officially opened the doors of its new premises.
The building was previously home to the Camps Bay Bowling Club for nearly 100 years.
Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer officially cut the ribbon to unveil the revamped school hall on Monday January 27.
The new campus includes three classrooms, a hall, toilets, after-care room, a large play area, a sports field, a kitchen, an office and storage facilities.
Ms Schafer said they had come a long way to where they were. She said she had been approached by a group of concerned parents who came asked for assistance as their children needed more space, including room to play.
She said she was pleased that the pupils would now have access to a safe indoor and outdoor space so that they could be exposed to all the essential components of a good education.
“Some people weren’t really happy, they wanted us to share the facility but unfortunately every option that they put on the table wouldn’t have worked for the school, especially keeping the bar open and there was no way that I was going to allow a bar to run next to a school,” said Ms Schafer.
The matter dates back to 2014 when the City approved plans to rezone the piece of land for the expansion of the school’s preparatory campus. The members of the Camps Bay Bowling Club appealed the decision by the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal. The matter went to court and the club lost the battle to have its lease renewed by the City.
The plans to renovate the old precinct were submitted in 2018 and building began in July last year. The building was completed by the end of 2019 and the first children started using the new classrooms this year.
Ms Schafer commended the school on working hard to ensure that the school was diversified. She said some people complained that the expansion was not necessary as most pupils came from outside areas.
“That’s exactly why it should be expanded. We want more pupils from diverse backgrounds to experience a high quality of learning and the department will do anything it can to assist schools in expanding access,” she said.
She thanked the parents and supporters for fighting for the success of this project. “You could have given up after the legal setbacks and opposition from many angles, but you stayed true to the cause and now your children have this space,” she said.
“Children need this. Many of the schools don’t have sports fields and this opportunity. You are lucky and you need to look after it,” she said.
Chairperson of the school’s governing body, Vanessa September said it was great to finally be in the new premises for pupils to play, learn and grow. She thanked the stakeholders and parents who gave their time, expertise and their money to make it possible for the land to be available and precinct to be transformed.
“The children now have a big playground, something we didn’t have before. They will have a lot of shade now from the trees and maybe we will have a few swings for them,” she said.
Ms September said the school raised money to bring the project to fruition. “Many people donated money not knowing whether the building would be realised in their lifetime, nevertheless they donated their time and money and it is this sense of love and parental commitment which makes the school really special, allowing us all to benefit from today,” she said.
She thanked the Western Cape Education Department for their support.
“We would not be here if the MEC and her team did not agree to sign a lease agreement with the City of Cape Town so that we can use this land. This extra space makes it possible for the school to be compliant in terms of the space standard. We’re now compliant with the space standards of the WCED and it also means that we have enough space to implement some of the school policies of making the school more diverse and enriching the educational experience of everybody,” she said.