Our Chapel is the heart of Highbury as a Christian school. While we welcome boys of all faiths and beliefs, we have a compulsory spiritual programme that includes early morning Chapel services and scripture lessons. Our services focus on teaching life skills, Biblical values and Christian beliefs, which are a fundamental aspect of raising young men of integrity and courage. Teaching our boys Christian values creates a common understanding of how Highbury boys are expected to behave towards adults and towards one another.
Chapel for Foundation Phase is held in our Lecture Theatre and led by our Head of Foundation Phase. FP boys have a weekly ‘Big Chapel’ in our beautiful stone Chapel led by our Headmaster. Parents are invited to attend as well if they are able to, sitting in the gallery with their son. Senior Primary boys have Chapel in the stone Chapel most days, led either by our Headmaster or our Head of Senior Primary. To gather and sing together, pray together, listen to the Chapel lesson and announcements, as well as acknowledge achievements, is the best way to start the day. Many Highbury Old Boys come back to get married in our beautiful Chapel and say that lessons taught in Chapel have stood them in good stead for the journey of life.
Highbury was a Boarding school from1903 until 2009 and our Dining Hall is one of the most iconic, memorable places in our school. When Boarding was closed in 2009, we chose to retain the tradition of a hot cooked lunch for our Highbury boys from Grade 3 onwards. Not only does this fuel them well for long afternoons on the sports field or taking part in other extracurricular activities, but many life skills are learned in our Dining Hall. Boys say grace before they eat, they take turns serving up food for their friends and they take turns being the scraper who cleans and stacks the plates for the kitchen. Boys are exposed to a wide variety of foods and often extend their eating habits through seeing friends enjoy different meals. They are expected to eat with a knife and fork, even when they are served chicken drumsticks! Wednesday is picnic lunch day which enables an earlier finish for Inter-Schools sports matches midweek. In the morning, a variety of sandwiches, fruit and juice is served in the quad and on cold days there is hot chocolate too. All food is included in school fees from Grade 3 and of course this means no more lunch boxes, Mum!
Dream Stream Days
In keeping with our motto ‘Jamais Arriere’ which means ‘Never Behind’, Highbury teachers are always introducing new learning experiences for our boys. One of the more recent additions to our Foundation Phase year, has been the launch of Dream Stream days. DREAM stands for Design, Read, Explore, Authors and Media and STREAM stands for Science, Tech, Robotics, Engineering, Arts and Maths. For these days, our Media Centre is transformed into a themed experience for one specific grade, with multiple activity stations that boys move between, each time documenting their activity/learning on their iPads. These are the real ‘best day ever’ experiences for our boys!
Teaching Highbury Boys to respect and protect the environment is one of the most things we do. “Dirty feet are happy feet”, and what better place to get your feet dirty than in our veggie gardens. Every phase has its own veggie garden, which the boys plant and harvest to either eat in our Dining Hall or to donate to our feeding scheme charity, Future Stars. The boys water their veggie gardens with grey water brought from their baths at home (a little soap is actually great for keeping the bugs away!). They bring grey water in plastic milk bottles which then get recycled into the plastic benches you can see throughout the school. Every year our eco-programme engages boys with new topics from eco-bricks to the spekboom challenge to ‘straw wars’ and many more. Boys engage with peers and adults on environmental issues, enact change, and reflect on the importance of the natural world around us.
Highbury joined the global Eco-School programme in 2010 and and we are proud to be a Platinum Level 3 Eco-School. The Eco-School Programme is an international sustainable schools initiative that is active in 51 countries around the world. It is aimed at creating awareness and action around environmental sustainability in schools and their surrounding communities, as well as supporting ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) in the national curriculum. Highbury was awarded an International Platinum flag in 2016 and we are now working towards our ‘Diamond’ accreditation.
Our ‘Market Days’ for Grades 1, 2 and 3 are a highlight of the year, with the Foundation Phase quad full of budding entrepreneurs selling food, drinks, raffle tickets, entertainment and crafts. Every boy from Grade R to 3 comes shopping with twenty tickets to ‘spend’ and the money raised is matched by MySchool funds and donated to that Grade’s outreach charity. Boys make posters to advertise what they will be selling around the school in the build up to Market Day and plan and execute their table displays. They choose their pricing (one ticket or two!) and learn to exchange goods for tickets and to keep their tickets safe in a ‘money box’.
Boys love competition and Highbury’s four houses compete throughout the year, earning points for Inter-House sports events, cultural participation, quiz events and more. All boys and staff are divided into four houses: Acutt’s (Yellow); Duff’s (Red); Escombe’s (Green); and Robinson’s (Blue). Grade 1-7 Boys attend House Chapel each Tuesday in their respective Houses with their House Masters and House Mistresses. Through the course of the year, every House has to deal with highs and lows; their House loyalty and spirit is tested by both success and failure as they learn to handle both with grace. The camaraderie and spirit shown at Inter-House competitions make us all very proud and the boys love the opportunity to play and cheer.
Kool-To-Care (KTC) is a programme at Highbury which ensures that boys across the grades care for one another and treat each other like brothers. Every Highbury boy from Grade 1 to 7 is part of a Kool-To-Care group of one or two boys from each Grade, led by their Grade 7 boy and supported by a mentor teacher. Boys within a group are ‘KTC buddies’ and make an extra effort to greet, get to know and encourage one another, not only around school but also bumping into each other out and about. KTC groups meet twice a term, taking part in a lesson or activity, directed by their Grade 7 leader.
Most KTC activities are focused on either outreach or on cementing our Culture of Honour in each of the boys’ lives. It is always so heart-warming to hear how protective and attentive the older boys are towards their ‘little brother’ buddies, and how attached each one of the little boys gets to their Big Buddy. The brotherly bonds created between the boys across the whole school makes Highbury the extra special place that it is.
Grade camps are a wonderful leveller. They provide a variety of challenges on a different scale in an unfamiliar setting – the perfect recipe for personal growth. Grades 5, 6 and 7 boys attend annual camps and thoroughly enjoy this special time away from school. Many will attest to the development that came through facing their fears, embracing new opportunities and making memories with their friends. In Foundation Phase, boys experience two Outdoor Adventures a year, one of which includes a much-loved bus ride!
As a school, we are committed to broadening our boys’ vision and giving them opportunities to respond to the needs of the community. Empowering the boys with the mindset that ‘we can help, we can make a difference’ is a priority at Highbury. We do this by placing a great deal of emphasis on the values of caring, giving and kindness. We want our boys to gain a healthy and honest perspective of their community and the needs that exists right on their doorsteps. We seek opportunities for boys to grow and mature their characters by actively meeting the needs of others, face-to-face, and to make meaningful contributions not just in donations but also in time and energy.
Each Grade has a specific initiative that they connect with each year, so that grade teachers get a chance to build long term relationships with selected charity organisations, while boys get to experience a wide variety of different needs from Grade R through to Grade 7, from the elderly to the young, animals to nature conservancies, feeding schemes and disabilities. Our twinning school is Inchanga Primary and we seek out opportunities for our boys to connect with Inchanga Primary students as well as helping through acts of service like making and delivering peanut butter sandwiches or books for the reading programme that our retired teachers have started.
When Highbury claims, ‘We Know Boys’, we really mean it. Pastoral care is about knowing the whole boy and putting things in place where needed to facilitate that care. A happy boys performs better at school and a boy who has positive relationships at school has fewer disciplinary problems. Many boys experience a crisis of some sort within their Highbury years and we believe that one of the most important things we can do for any boy is to make time to notice, to care, to help and to support in whatever way we can. Perhaps that’s why our parents call it the ‘Highbury Family’.
Highbury’s robotics programme evolves every year as we remain at the forefront of this exciting new learning space. Robotics is taught within weekly ICT lessons as well as after school extra that is included within school fees. Starting from Grade R, boys are taught to programme BeeBots before progressing to Lego Simple Machines in Grade 1 , Lego WeDo robotics kits in Grade 2 and 3, Lego Spike in Grade 4 and 5 and Lego EV3 robotics in Grades 6 and 7.
Boys learn to code on their iPads in three different coding languages, connecting their iPad code to the robot they have built with Lego and testing out its ability to perform a set of actions or meet a set challenge. The opportunities for teamwork, problem solving, design and engineering thinking as well as coding skills are all great sources of 20th century learning.
Highbury was the first 1-1 iPad school in KZN. iPads are used for creating, not for consumption (such as gaming). They provide a dynamic, engaged learning experience, encouraging independence of thought and expression. Traditional learning is still done in traditional ways, with paper and pencil/pen, while the iPads are used for learning extension, enhancement and differentiated learning. Parents purchase their son’s iPad in the first term of Grade 1 and it is handed in to school for all of the software and apps to be loaded. The iPad is a dedicated learning tool and is therefore entirely controlled by the school, although it travels to and from school each day. YouTube is not allowed as we cannot make it safe for our boys.
Examples of how iPads are used for learning at Highbury:
Extending traditional learning: once a composition/essay has been completed with paper/pencil, it can then be turned into a digital book with Book Creator;
Oral can be accompanied by KeyNote presentations that connect with the classroom Smart Board;
Maths apps like Mathletics can be used by groups of boys within a class for maths extension / fluency while the teacher works with a smaller group on a specific concept;
Weekly ITC lessons are a chance for boys to learn new apps and develop their coding skills.
Our ICT Lab has 25 computers, which are used by our Grade 6 and 7 boys to ensure they are fully prepared for high school. Boys learn the Microsoft Office suite and the basics of website programming.
Smart Boards and Wifi
E-beam technology and Smart Boards are deployed throughout the school, as well as high speed wifi internet, enabling class teachers to make maximum use of online resources to enrich the learning process.