Forres is a dynamic, co-educational Preparatory school which is well known for keeping abreast with current and cutting edge, educational approaches and paradigms.

A Recent, Short History of Forres School 1994 – Today

Taking the 2nd step: An exercise in Belongingness

“Thank you for including us, now how about making us feel like we belong!”

(Presentation by Kim van der Hoven at Western Cape Education Department Annual meeting with Independent Heads 2016

Schools have always played a role in the making and changing of a society. What you learn at school socially, emotionally, politically and economically you will perpetuate into society one day as an adult.

To quote Jonathan Jansen “to get South Africans to talk about difficult things, and to talk about our divided past, I want to start by saying that we are not going to get our country right if we don’t get our schools right. If we don’t get our schools right, everything else topples.”

Diversity is a subject that demands from us to go to places in ourselves and in our school communities that can be extremely painful and difficult to talk about. At the same time this challenge can present wonderful opportunities for developing relationships within our school community that are regenerative, restorative and healing.

No matter how enlightened or deeply sincere our intentions, because I do believe that absolutely, ‘almost’ no-one wants to think that their actions could be viewed as racist, we are still caught up in our countries history and in our own painful narratives of identity. Try as we may, we will from time to time get tripped up by our own lack of awareness and our own ignorance of what the experience of the ‘OTHER’ is in our school.

My journey started with Forres School 24 odd years ago, (the school was founded in 1948 and was already 46 yrs old), at the beginning of our democracy. I am sure for you, as it was for me, it was a truly great day and an enormous relief when we could open our school doors without impunity to all races and cultures.

Just like South Africa, which became the Rainbow Nation, we could ‘leave behind’ the unjust and unsettling laws of apartheid. Likewise, we as Independent Schools could finally realise what for many of us has also been part of our struggle, the dream of inclusion. And so, in the early 90’s, the first big step of “you are welcome’ and “we include you’ was taken. And then we all relaxed, as did the Rainbow Nation and thought ……. if we are all included the rest will take care of itself.

Of late, I think we have all come to realise that once we embrace diversity and the idea of an inclusive society, the real work has to start. And to be fair, we really aren’t trained or equipped at all, no matter how much we believe in it as a fair and just direction to take.

I have come to realise that once you do have a diverse school, it is not enough just to include, you have to manage it. And I have come to call the managing of it The Belongingness Project.