A brief history of St Agnes School


The school was begun by Ms Kilkelly and Ms Alt (not sure where) – a government school.  It was handed over to the sisters when they came in 1899.  A private school was also opened in1899.  Both schools amalgamated in 1904.

In 1947, or perhaps before, three classes were established for slow learners (40 children).  They were able to get work and were able to support themselves on leaving school.  In 1936 there were 650 pupils.

The Christian Brothers from Ireland built a separate block that year (1936).

In 1950 a secondary school for girls started in the parish hall.

In 1959 the Brothers went up to Std vii and viii (Boys).

In 1951 there were 679 pupils.
In 1955 Aquinas block was built.
In 1957 the secondary school was named Aquinas College.
In 1965 100 children received First Communion.  In 1965 75 children were confirmed.

In 1975 Aquinas College closed.  In 1994 St Justina retired as the last Dominican Sister Principal of St Agnes.

In 1995 Mr Gary Jonnson became Principal.
In 1997 Mrs Avril Watson followed.

In 1999 Mrs Watson resigned and Ms Joy McGilton was acting Principal until June 2000.  Mr Julian Moment was appointed in July 2000.  His services were discontinued in December 2000.  Ms McGilton again took over as acting Principal and continued in the post until September 2002.  Mr Alfonso Louw was appointed Principal in October 2002.

St Agnes Primary School caters for learners from across the socio-economic spectrum.  We have learners from the surrounding areas, the townships, Nazareth House – a home for HIV/AIDS children, Ons Plek – a shelter for street children and a large number of refugees from different African countries.  The majority of these parents are unable to contribute financially towards school fees, but no-one is refused admission to the school.  Unemployment, drug abuse, gangsterism and a decline in moral values are an enormous challenge, but we are devoted to Catholic education and are supported in our mission by a well qualified and dedicated group of educators.

FULL TIME-LINE HISTORY OF ST AGNES PRIMARY SCHOOL

1898 - The Convent was completed and 6 Sisters came from Springfield to live there.
1899 - A small government school run by Miss Alt and Miss Kilkelly was handed over to the Sisters. The Sisters also established a Private school on the same premises.
1904 - Both schools were amalgamated and the number of pupils reached 400.
1915 - The school became a 10 teacher school with Std 6 as the highest standard.

Those students who wished to continue with Commercial subjects (after Std 6) were taught in rooms in the Convent because the Dept. of Education would not allow this tuition on school premises. Soon the numbers in the school (A – 6) had increased to 600 pupils and 16 teachers, mostly Sisters.

1936 - The number of pupils was now 650 and the Christian Brothers offered to take over the boys from Std 3 to Std 6. Their offer was accepted. They received their salaries from the Dept. of Education. The Department of Education stipulated that a Dominican Sister would always be Principal and that both sections of the school should function as one school.
1939 - Plans were drawn up for the extension of the school – 5 classrooms were
added and the school hall renovated.
1942 - Three classes were established for “slow learners” i.e. Special Classes: about  40 pupils.
1946 - Total enrolment – 595.
1947 - Sr Teresita Kearney became Principal.
1949 - A separate school building was erected by the Brothers for Std 7 and 8, but this was Private, not under the Dept of Education.
1950 - A Seconday School was started in the Parish hall for Std 7 with Sr Helen Halton in charge.
1951 - Enrolment in the Primary School was 697. The Secondary School continued until 1975 though it struggled financially most of the time. Parents were reluctant to pay fees and because more secular teachers had to be employed, the school was finally not financially viable. The numbers of pupils were small owing to the proximity of St Marys’ CT and St Patricks, Mowbray.
1955 - New classrooms were built for Stds 6, 7 and 8.
1963 - Sister Mechtilde Purcell became Principal and there were +/- 600 pupils in the Primary school at the time. There were seven Dominican Sisters and three Christian Brothers as well as ten lay teachers.
1970 - Sister Justina Nutley became Principal of the Primary School and by then the number of pupils had been showing a decline due to smaller families and also the development of Bothasig into “ little Woodstock”. Families had begun to move out of Woodstock because of the ongoing application of the   Group Areas Act. There were still seven Dominican Sisters and three Christian Brothers on the staff.
1971 - The first PTA was founded in the Primary School and the members proved to be such an energetic group that after their school féte they proceeded to paint the hall as well as the exterior of the buildings. They organised numerous fundraising functions and built up a strong community spirit. This dynamic spirit still persists and the whole Parent body gets involved.
1972 - From now, our school numbers showed a marked decrease; families much smaller; uncertainly about the area grey/coloured/? and the “Open school Policy” in Catholic ethos persisted and even became stronger.
1975 - Because of very small classes in Aquinas Commercial College over some years it was decided to close it down. The Primary school now could have a staff – room, Art room, Library, Media Centre and Computer room all urgently needed.
1983 - The crisis in Vocations was making itself felt in our school. We now had only two Dominican Sisters and two Christian Brothers.
1986 - Only one Dominican Sister now on the staff viz the Principal and one Christian Brother.
1989 - On 5 February the school celebrated its 90th Anniversary.
1994 - December 1994 marked the end of a long chapter in the Dominican history with the retirement of the last Sister, but that did not mean that the ethos of the school was going to change.
1995 - Mr Gary Jonnson became Principal.
1997 - Mrs Avril Watson followed.
In 1999 Mrs Watson resigned and Ms Joy McGilton was acting Principal until June 2000.  Mr Julian Moment was appointed in July 2000.  His services were discontinued in December 2000.  Ms McGilton again took over as acting Principal and continued in the post until September 2002.  Mr Alfonso Louw was appointed Principal in October 2002.