2 August 2016

Dear Parents

A belated welcome back to the Third Term! I trust that you have all enjoyed a wonderful holiday period with your families. We return to another busy and exciting term filled with many opportunities. I encourage all families to make the most of this wonderful school. I spoke to the Grade 5 children recently on a host of topics such as friendships, work ethic, making the most of the opportunities at school, homework et al but the one topic which concerned me the most was that they were unsure about our TIME OUT Initiative!

As communicated in my final communiqué to parents at the end of last term, I would like to introduce a new concept at Somerset College. Later this term, I would like to set an afternoon apart whereby families put aside ALL commitments in order to spend quality time with each other. This could take the form of a picnic, board game, walk on the beach or simply to spend some time around a meal catching up with one another. This is also an opportunity to spend time with the extended family. I would like to further suggest that the time spent together is device free!

No extra-curricular activities will take place at school that afternoon. School will end at 12:40. I do understand that for some families it is not possible to co-ordinate an afternoon such as this. Those children who still need to attend Aftercare will have their own special TIME OUT celebration planned. If your child cannot be taken home and needs to remain at school, please could you email Mrs Whyman by Friday 19 August at prep@somcol.co.za in order that we know what numbers to expect. I am also aware that the keyboard eisteddfods are taking place on this afternoon.

To confirm that the date for our first TIME OUT afternoon will be Wednesday 24 August. Please diarise this event NOW to avoid any family disappointments. Moms and dads, clear your diaries and use the free time to focus on your special families. We will run a special TIME OUT Assembly the following Monday to check up on everybody!

Many thanks to the parents who have completed our Prep Uniform Survey. 129 parents have completed the survey but I would like to encourage all parents to complete the survey. If parents have more than one child in the Senior Prep, and would like to complete the survey for each of their children, they need to let Mrs Whall have a second email address and she will send it to you. The survey will close at noon on Friday 5 August. Please refer to Mrs Whall should you require the email link once again.
I need to clarify the uniform policy during cold weather. In addition to the Uniform Policy which can be found in the Parent Handbook, the children are allowed to wear vests (unseen) and the Puffer Jacket on any given day be it cold. This includes Fridays. As per the existing uniform policy, girls may wear red, navy blue or white hair accessories.
The Facilities staff have had a very busy holiday period. From a Prep point of view, I would like to thank Mr Matthee, our Financial Manager, and his Facilities staff for the amazing work they completed during the holidays. Below please find a list of all completed Prep upgrades:

  • Installation of Air Conditioners in three classrooms
  • Complete renovation of the Prep Staffroom
  • Widening of the road leading past the dam to allow for two-way traffic
  • Paving of the Simon Daniels parking area and road leading past the tennis courts
  • Landscaping of the Prep gardens
  • Replaced fence and gate at the 1991 Building
  • Introduced a double latch system on the gate behind the Aftercare
  • Repainted two Prep classrooms
  • Rerouted the dam fence to create a secure walkway for students down to the tennis courts
  • Carpet replacements
  • General replacement of grass and new hanging flower pots
  • Moved the Grade 7 Experience Memorial to the front gardens

The Prep School and Campus is looking fantastic and I am sure you will join me in thanking the Facilities staff on their hard work!

As many of you may have noticed, the swimming pool has been emptied and repairs are currently in progress. The swimming pool will be ready for the fourth term.

What an amazing birthday cake!
Thank you Samantha and Ethan for sharing birthdays with me!
Thank you to all well-wishers.
Your kindness is appreciated!

Mr Craig Verdal-Austin 
Head of the Preparatory School



The Benefits of Learning Afrikaans as a Second Language

Afrikaans is one of the eleven official languages of South Africa. The benefits of learning Afrikaans as a second language include cognitive and mental development as well as the advancement in social, cultural and personal skills. 


“Afrikaans” is a Dutch word that means “African.” It is a uniquely South African language as it shares approximately 85% of its vocabulary with Dutch and has picked up additional vocabulary from English, French, Malay, Malagasy, Khoi, San, and some West African languages. Although it is a relatively young language, its impact in South Africa has been widespread. It has been influential in the development of South African English as many Afrikaans loanwords have found their way into South African English with words such as “veld”, “braai” and “lekker” forming part of the English vocabulary. A few words in Standard English, such as “trek” and “spoor” are derived from Afrikaans.

Learning Afrikaans can make you smarter

Learning a second language such as Afrikaans can help your child to improve their academic performance across the board. Learning a new language is good for cognitive development, as a different part of the brain is engaged while learning the new language structures, systems, vocabulary and rules.  The brain is like a muscle that functions better with regular exercise. Learning a language strengthens that mental “muscle” and improves overall memory. Some studies have shown that learning a new language results in higher scores on standardised exams such as Mathematics and comprehension.

Learning Afrikaans can improve your English

When learning a new language, many children find that they develop a greater understanding of English. The children become more aware of the similarities and differences between the vocabulary, grammar and language structures of the different languages. This experience gives the children a new insight into their own language and ultimately leads to an improvement in their English ability.

Learning Afrikaans promotes cultural awareness

Exposure to a new culture affords the children an enriching experience as they hear new music, watch movies, and study literature and drama. Learning Afrikaans presents children with opportunities to understand, appreciate and enjoy the Afrikaans culture through its stories, poems and unique – and often humorous – idioms. The list of new experiences that a different culture can bring to your child’s life is endless. Most importantly, as children endeavour to become amiable citizens of a diverse world, they learn respect, tolerance and appreciation for people who are different from themselves.

How to support your child to love learning Afrikaans

Always display a positive attitude towards Afrikaans and show him or her that you value the ability to speak a second language. Expose your child to a variety of Afrikaans texts.
  • Listen to stories in Afrikaans (for example, Storiemuis and Storieman with CDs included).
  • Listen to Afrikaans songs and get the children to sing along. (Baby Boom stocks a variety of CDs for young children and older children can find Afrikaans songs on YouTube).
  • Read Afrikaans rhymes and simple poems (from a Kinderverseboek or refer to the website – https://juffer.wordpress.com)
  • Read and discuss stories in Afrikaans. The school library and the local libraries in Somerset West, Strand and Stellenbosch have fabulous selections.
  • Watch Afrikaans movies and DVDs (Google “Afrikaans stories” on YouTube.)
  • Encourage your child to speak Afrikaans and praise his or her efforts with enthusiasm.

Mrs Elizabeth van Tonder
Head of Afrikaans





Listening means being open to differences, recognising the value of another’s point of view and interpretation.  Thus, listening becomes not only a pedagogical strategy but also a way of thinking and looking at others.  Carlina Rinaldi
As adults, the feeling of not being heard or understood is a frustration that we have all experienced.  It is important to us to be heard because we want others to know and understand our views, interpretations, feelings, likes and dislikes.  Many of us will “switch off”, become despondent and express feelings of anger when we feel unheard.  This is not a phenomenon exclusive to adulthood.  Young children will respond in very similar ways which mean that if we want children to excel emotionally, physically and academically we need to listen to them.  The implication of this for teachers and parents is that it is crucial for us to learn to listen to children and to really take the time to listen because: 
  • Listening shows respect and respect cultivates healthy self-esteem. 
  • Listening allows us to build good relationships.
  • Listening is the first step towards finding solutions and solving problems. 
  • Listening to children demonstrates how they should listen to others. 
  • Listening to children allows you to gather information about them.
  • Listening to children will give you insight into their thoughts, ideas, perspectives and behaviour. 
What if we can raise children who are able to listen?  Really listen?  Could we change the state of our nation, our country, our world?

How should we listen?

Listening involves giving attention to others that goes beyond the hearing of sound. To listen requires mindfulness – being present in the here and now. To be present means to be focused on what is happening right now and to be open to and see the possibilities among the people, the space, and the materials within the environment. This requires “the openness and sensitivity to listen and be listened to – listening not just with our ears, but with all of our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, orientation).  Carlina Rinaldi

Take the time to listen to children and be patient.

  • Create and look for a variety of opportunities to listen to children.
  • Always be honest towards the children that you are listening to.
  • Never take for granted the fact that you have been trusted to listen to, or take part in the child’s discussion. 
  When your child asks, “Why is there a moon?”
Do not reply with a scientific answer. Ask him, “What do you think?”
He will understand that you are telling him, “you have your ideas and mind and your own interpretation and your ideas are important to me.”
Then you and he can look for the answers, sharing the wonder, curiosity, pain-everything.
It is not the answer that are important, it is the process-which you and he search together.
Carlina Rinaldi

*Carlina Rinaldi is the Director of the Municipal Infant-Toddler Centres and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy


Ms Adri Hofmeyr
Head of the Pre-Preparatory



Our children have become digital natives in a world where smartphones, tablets and computers are an integral part of life, where even LEGO has moved into the computer with Minecraft.  Both virtual reality and augmented reality are now available by merely downloading an app. We all know the future of our world is digital, so what can be more important to a child’s future than to provide them with a rich foundation in these vital thinking and problem solving skills that will be so valuable for success in his or her future world?
Children these days are all glued to their phones, their tablets and their computers. They are constantly using technology, but very few of them are learning how to create it or understand how it works. The youth have become consumers of technology, but we need to move away from mere consumption to teaching them how to create and express themselves in this new language.  Coding – or computer programming – will teach children to become content creators and to truly understand the digital world.
What is Coding?
Coding is defined as “giving a computer instructions, in one of the many coding languages, so that it can perform a task.” Code is the string of typed instructions a computer follows to do anything from displaying the word “hello” on a screen, to piloting a driverless car through traffic.  It is the art of creating anything from computer games, iPad apps and smartphone programs to computational models that help us improve medical care. Coding is simply another language, a language that anyone can learn and is present. As our children grow up, this ability to code will become as fundamental as reading and writing to their success, regardless of what occupation they ultimately choose.
So how have we been learning to code at Somerset College?  From Grade 1, the children have all completed Code.org ‘s Hour of Code.  The students didn’t want to stop there and we have continued to practise computer programming through many online tutorials, iPad apps and educational websites.  From programming Minecraft scenarios to controlling the Star Wars’ robots R2-D2 and BB-8, our children have been exposed to what some might consider a daunting concept, in a fun and interactive manner. 
Blockly code, a visual programming language, was used by the younger grades. These blocks are dragged and snapped into place and represent algorithms. The children are asked to always view the ‘real’ code after completing a level. This helps familiarise them with HTML, Javascript and Python. The older grades used Javascript to code game instructions in Code Combat. They coded a Mother’s Day card and designed personalised Keep Calm posters using HTML.  The school has recently joined Purple Mash, an educational website with superb coding resources. More details regarding this will be sent to the parents shortly.
In September 2014, England added Computer Programming as a compulsory subject to the National Curriculum. Children started learning to code at the age of 5. Robotics classes, makerspaces and coding as a subject are all becoming a crucial facet of the STEM/STEAM movement in schools.  
At Somerset College, our students really want to code. The ICT lab becomes a swarm of activity as they communicate and collaborate to solve problems and learn skills such as persistence, logical thinking and creativity. Teaching young students how to code and create will change the paradigm of children being technology consumers to technology producers. Steve Jobs succinctly stated, “Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”

I have included a few of the websites and applications that we have been using. Perhaps some of you could ask your child to teach you how to code?   
Coding websites and apps I recommend for beginners:
http://thefoos.com/ (iPad app also available)
Box Island app
Coding websites and apps I recommend for extension:
Hopscotch app


Ms Kerry Dunkley
IT Teacher


Can you solve the following Maths problem?

There will be a small reward for the first correct answer given to Mrs Evans!


Five days after Fr Jacques Hamel’s brutal murder in France, which sent more shockwaves around the world, special Masses were celebrated in cathedrals, churches and chapels in France and other Catholic churches throughout the world. The deliberate presence of members of the local Islamic communities as an act of solidarity warranted footage on the national news channels. Several Muslims interviewed were attending their first Christian service. Others had never been in a church before. The message from all those who spoke, both Christian and Muslim, was one of unity, condemnation of hatred and violence, and peace.
I was struck by this brief moment of public solidarity. Both religions – and indeed others too – share some beliefs, and disagree on other issues, and that’s OK. That is why there are different religions. On Sunday, however, both were united against the evil of indiscriminate violence and hatred of the other – a good reminder to all, including those of us here in South Africa, that there is far more that unites us than separates us.
This Friday during our Chapel service, as members of the Coventry Cathedral Community of the Cross of Nails, we will pray the Litany of Reconciliation (as we do every first Friday of the month), which starts with this line:
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, forgive. Vader, vergewe. Bawo, xolela.
It ends with this verse from the book of Ephesians:
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
The events that are making headlines for the wrong reasons make these words all the more relevant.  This uncertain world of ours is crying out for its people to run away from hatred and to turn towards kindness and forgiveness.
We are its people. And it starts with us, here, in our homes and in our community.
I wish you a hope-filled term.

Mr Patrick Cordery

To book for this event go to http://www.quicket.co.za/events/19549-somerset-college-speaker-forum-martin-dreyer-10-august-2016/#/


General enquiries and sick notes for sport – prepsport@somcol.co.za
Physical Education for girls please e-mail Kirsty de Kock – k.dekock@somcol.co.za
Physical Education for boys please e-mail Hilton Toro – h.toro@somcol.co.za


Please follow the correct lines of communication with regard to Physical Education (PE) and Sport if your child is sick and needs to be excused.
For PE, you should email k.dekock@somcol.co.za for the girls and h.toro@somcol.co.za for the boys. Please send these emails by 08:00 in order for Mrs de Kock and Mr Toro to deal with them before they have to attend to PE lessons. Please do not email prepsport@somcol.co.za regarding Physical Education. Physical Education is an academic subject and is separate from Sport.
For Sport, please email prepsport@somcol.co.za. Mrs Heidi Hudson-Bennett deals with these emails and informs the relevant Heads of Sport/coaches.

The cross country season is drawing to a close with zonal races still to come. By the end of this week, we will be informed as to which Somerset College runners have qualified to participate in the zonal races. 

We had the privilege of hosting a cross country event on our beautiful grounds on a perfect winter’s day in May. It has been truly wonderful to see the interest and participation in cross country this year and we look forward to more growth and excitement – especially with the establishment of the trail running track on our very own grounds. The routes for the 2.5 km (yellow route) and 3 km (blue route) tracks are illustrated on the attached map.

I have been amazed by the large number of participants interested in cross country since the start of the winter sport season. As a new coach and passionate runner myself, I was not sure how the Somerset College learners would respond to the training methods I use and whether they would do well as a result – as well as enjoy the sport. To my surprise, it all went very well. The participants were so enthusiastic and full of energy and the numbers grew on a weekly basis.

I have to admit that the Somerset College runners have blown me away with their talent. Most of them have participated in the Friday competitions, with many finishing in the top 20. A few have also finished in 1st and 2nd place. These are excellent results.

From a coaching perspective, I foresee the development of bright, young long distance runners from this school and some that will really shine one day on a higher level.

In conclusion, running does wonders; it changes a person’s character in a positive way and adds so many health benefits to the entire body. It also renews your inner spirit.

Tassius Chigariro competed in various tennis tournaments during the holidays and achieved much success.
At the Western Province Winter Championship, he was runner-up in the U10 boys’ singles.
He also flew up to Johannesburg to compete in the Gauteng Central Championship at Ellis Park, where he won gold in the boys’ U10 doubles and silver in the singles.
While there, he also competed in the Gauteng East Championship in Benoni and won gold in the boys’ U10 doubles.

Congratulations, Tassius! 

We would like to thank VPM Building for the generous donation towards our U13A Rugby jerseys.

The U13A hockey, netball and rugby teams participated in a Sports Festival in Mossel Bay from Thursday 21 July to Sunday 24 July. The hockey matches took place on Friday afternoon, where the teams participated in a Round Robin Festival. The boys just missed out on making the finals, but the girls’ team managed to top their group and, as a result, took part in the finals finishing in third place overall. On Saturday morning, the boys and girls took part in the Netball and Rugby Festival. The netball girls played 5 matches, while the rugby boys played 5 matches. The rainy weather did not dampen their spirits and good rugby and netball was played.
During the tour, the boys and girls also took time to enjoy some exciting activities, namely Maze Hunting and Sandboarding.

Congratulations to Daniele Francis who made the SANESA Boland Team for 2016. She will be representing Boland at the regional finals between 6 and 8 August 2016 at the Stellenbosch District Riding Club. The competition will be attended by SWD, WP and Boland teams. From this championship, the SANESA Western Cape Team will be chosen, which will travel to Pretoria in October to compete at SANESA’s National Championships.


These boys and girls represented Boland and played in the very exciting PSI National U11 and U12 Indoor Hockey Tournament in Cape Town during the June holidays. They would have gained invaluable experience, enhancing their skills and developing relationships with like-minded sportsmen and women from around South Africa. Well done to some of the players on excelling in teams that won medals.

Megan Falkenberg U11 Girls Foxes – Bronze
Michaela Falkenberg U11 Girls Scorpions
Taryn Richardson U11 Girls Scorpions
Caleb Dukes U11 Boys Scorpions – Silver
Jemma Falkenberg U12 Girls Foxes – Bronze
Sarah Austen U12 Girls Foxes – Bronze
Arwen Richardson U12 Girls Foxes – Bronze
Alexia Falkenberg U12 Girls Scorpions
Taryn Dykes U12 Girls Scorpions
Cerys Richardson U12 Girls Scorpions
Tiago Marques U12 Boys Foxes
Wynand Janse van Rensburg.U12 Boys Scorpions – Bronze
James Davies U12 Boys Scorpions – Bronze

Prep School Sports Department



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