The Diocesan School of the Diocese of Cape Town - for boys only, normal in those times - was established in 1849 by Bishop Robert Gray, and opened its doors in Maynier’s Cottage in the grounds of the Bishop’s residence, Protea, now called Bishopscourt. Its object was ‘to give a sound Education to the Youth of the Colony’, conducted on the principles of the English Church. The first Principal was the Revd HM White, an English clergyman. Gray clearly had it in mind that this school would be different from the other grammar schools that he was establishing during the first years of his time in South Africa. He envisaged a lower school (boys aged 10 to 17) and an upper department (boys older than that) and when in 1874 the University of the Cape of Good Hope was instituted, university classes were set up as part of the Collegiate School, this was clearly in line with Gray’s orginal intentions. As the formal name of the school is quite a mouthful, the school has been referred to as ‘Bishops’ (the school of the Bishop) from the very beginning. The most worthwhile legacy you can leave your son is an education that recognises and encourages that special spark within each boy to catch fire; that provides him with the best academic grounding he can get, the foundation of a healthy physical lifestyle, opportunities to develop his cultural and social world, and one that enfolds him with values, and an understanding of the role of a spiritual component to life. As a boys’ school, we actively address what it means to be a boy, and how young boys can develop into mature men. Once a boy leaves school, it is right that he turns to new opportunities, new challenges, but we believe that the bond formed at school should be maintained and that friendships grown in school can be encouraged to remain through the association with the old boys’ union. Bishops aims in all we do to inspire our boys to find something that they are passionate about, and then provide them with all the resources possible to develop that passion. We expose boys to a wide range of activities, and watch closely to see what catches, what grows. Our boys are hugely busy, but in the end, they benefit from and enjoy the range of things they can do. The education we provide is based on the South African National curriculum, and we offer a wide range of subjects within a technology rich environment – one which provides them with exposure to the connectedness and resources of today’s world. Our boys produce exam results which have been ranked in the top ten schools of the Western Cape for the past four years, they participate in and achieve good results in national Olympiads. Our classroom are richly resourced, and our teaching staff are men and women of the highest calling. All boys engage with sport in various ways. At the heart of their sporting requirements lies the belief that boys need vigorous physical activity to grow; that healthy competition results in maturity of spirit; that habits of exercise that are planted young continue to provide benefits long after school has been left behind them, and we know that the sharing of victory and defeat in games contributes massively to the camaraderie and fellowship which binds the school and the family of the school together. We all live in cultural and social contexts, and activities which expose us to our cultural backgrounds and to the cultural diversity of South Africa develop and enrich us. The annual Eisteddfod in which all boys take part is one of the key highlights of each year; the dramatic, musical and social events each year ensures that everyone can both observe and participate in. We believe that the role of a values-based life-style in the development of fully rounded and fulfilled men is vital, and we constantly return to our values base to determine actions and programmes in the school. We are an Anglican Christian foundation, and Chapel plays a role in the daily life of the school, but we are open to all faiths, and we make provision for boys to meet their own religious practices. We know that the bonds forged between boys at school endure, and provide support and strength to many during both the good and bad times that life confronts us with. The Old Diocesan Union has branches all over the world, and reunions held at the school regularly bring together huge numbers of old boys, even up to fifty or sixty years after they had left school. We respect these gatherings within the school, because joining the school as a boy becomes a life-long journey with the school’s wider family.
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