The 10 Best Primary Schools in Cape Town (Public & Private

The vibrant and dynamic city of Cape Town has been consistently voted amongst some of the best cities in the world. Also home to some of the best universities on the continent and the world, one would also expect that some of the best schools in the country are located in Cape Town.

Are you looking for primary schools in Cape Town? Well, The Mother City does not disappoint in this regard. In this article, we list 10 of the best primary schools in Cape Town

What Makes a Good Primary School?

The schools ranked on our list have certain characteristics that make them stand out from others. But what makes a good school?

1. Curriculum

The main purpose of any school is to educate learners; hence the curriculum is one of the metrics that can be used to evaluate the standard of a school.

Other than laying out the sequence of what learners should learn and the outcomes that should be expected, a curriculum is also a measurement yardstick for evaluating progress and the success of a school’s teaching programs.

2. Teaching

Good schools tend to attract great teachers. The expertise, skills, and experience of good teachers are some of the most valuable assets any school can have.

The reputation of a school is dependent on the reputation of its teachers. Great teachers also ensure they make the most out of the resources available to successfully deliver the outcomes of the curriculum and to support the development of the learners.

3. Community Engagement

Schools are inherently tied to the communities that they serve. Benefits of community involvement in school activities include increased student achievement, attendance, behaviour, and the overall reputation of the school. Additionally, community engagement serves as a platform for teachers to understand family and community needs.

Finally, when a systematic approach is taken to involve communities in the running of the schools, it sets up a system for monitoring and evaluation of the school’s programs and promotes accountability from all the schools’ stakeholders.

3. Leadership

The success of any organization largely depends on its leadership. School leadership must create a positive school culture that sets up children for achievement, by supporting and motivating staff to ensure they remain committed to their responsibilities.

The roles of school leadership should include proper allocation and management of resources and maintaining a safe inducive learning environment. 

4. Facilities and resources

There are exemplary cases of schools with great leadership and teachers who have achieved success with limited resources. While such exemplary cases are encouraged, they are quite rare.

Research has shown that adequate school facilities and amenities are vital for improving both teacher and learner outcomes. School facilities influence teacher recruitment, retention, and motivation. Quality facilities are essential for students’ health, safety, and achievement, as facilities affect attention, behavior, engagement, and interest in learning activities. 

So what Makes a Good Primary School?

Good primary schools tend to have all the characteristics listed above. Specifically, a good primary school education integrates all components into a system that develops learners’ fundamental knowledge, skills, and competence in areas such as literacy, numeracy and communication.

Primary school is the basis for learners to develop individual talents, learning and critical thinking abilities while gaining an appreciation of aesthetic and community values.

Quality of education: Public vs Private Schools in Cape Town.

Due to the socio-economic landscape in South Africa, one would expect private schools to offer better quality education than public schools. However, our list also contains public schools that have been doing well enough to compete with private schools on numerous fronts to include pass rates, sports, and extramural activities.

Private Schools

The disparity in costs and quality between private and public schools in South Africa has been well documented. Private schools produce higher pass rates in school-leaving examinations than public schools and have the liberty to charge more expensive tuition fees to attract top teaching talent and acquire top tier facilities. 

Private school education can come at a premium of up to R300 000 and the average private school fees are reported to be around R136 000 per annum. 

Public Schools

On the other hand, public schools are funded, owned, and controlled by the state. In the South African public education system, government schools are classified into five categories from quintile 1 to quintile 5.

Quintile 1 designates the schools catering for the poorest 20% of learners while quintile 5 caters for the least poor 20% of learners. Schools in quintiles 1 to 5 are non-fee paying schools while quintiles 4 and 5 are fee-paying.

Parents of students at quintile 4 schools can expect to pay between R700 and R9000, while quintile 5 school fees range between R12 000 and R40 00 per year. 

More often than not, public schools remain critically under-resourced and have less funds to acquire even the basic amenities as compared to private schools. For instance, a report by the Institute of Race Relations showed that only 29% of government schools have a library and only 18% a science laboratory.

This demonstrates the disparity in standards when compared to private schools where facilities like libraries, laboratories, and the integration of computers and technology are basic requirements. 

Despite this, some public schools enjoy better facilities and recruit some of the best teachers in the province. These are usually the fee-paying schools, some of which were formerly designated as Model C schools. Model C schools were previously reserved for white students during the apartheid era.

The former model C schools make up a smaller proportion of the public schools in South Africa. However, they are better resourced and often perform better in public examinations than most lower quintile schools. Such schools make a great choice for those who may not afford private school education but can somewhat afford to pay for better facilities than those typically offered at lower quintile schools. 

public vs private schools in south africa

The 5 Best Private Primary Schools in Cape Town.

1. Micklefield School 

Micklefield School is one other school with a rich history, having been established in 1928 at the Grange Cottage in Rondebosch, Cape Town. Initially, the school was coeducational from nursery school up to standard 1 (Grade 3), after which the boys were transferred to other schools for boys in Cape Town.

However, starting in 1995, the school has been exclusively a girls-only school with a focus on offering a broad but individualised educational experience for girls to learn and grow in a caring family environment.

The school is a private school, registered with the Independent Schools’ Association of Southern Africa, ISASA. The school is managed by a Board of Trustees that comprises of the principal, as well as teacher and parents’ representatives.

Micklefield offers the National Curriculum Statement from Grade R up to Grade 7. 

2. Bishops Diocesan College 

The Bishops Diocesan College, popularly known as Bishops, is a private faith-based school that is rooted in the Anglican Church and is also part of the Independent Schools’ Association of Southern Africa.

The Rondebosch based school for boys takes learners from Grade 0 right up to Grade 12. Bishops has a long history that dates back to 1849 when the school was established by Bishop Robert Gray of the Anglican Church, making it one of the oldest schools in South Africa.

The school has since established itself as a powerhouse in academics, sports, and cultural activities. Bishops also has an active alumni association, known as the Old Diocesan Union that continues to engage with the school to promote the interests of the school and provide financial assistance. 

The Diocesan Preparatory school has a well thought out academic program that is rooted in the national curriculum. Bishops has a strong emphasis on using technology to create a rich learning environment for learners.

In addition to the traditional subjects, all students do Design Technology to encourage problem solving and technology skills. Bishops also has an impressive iPad program that exposes learners to technology at an early age.

The school also has a student support system that comprises professional psychologists, dedicated remedial teachers, aftercare unit, and a pastoral program that comprises a chaplain and a youth pastor to cater to the spiritual concerns of the learners.

Bishops prep school also has a strong emphasis on sport and cultural activities like music, drama, Christian club, and other outdoor activities. 

3. Hout Bay International School

Located in the historic pristine valley of Hout Bay behind Table Mountain, is a prestigious co-educational international school that aspires to provide world-class academic programs.

Hout Bay International School accepts learners from nursery school to matric. The school was established with the vision of providing a world-class private international school for Hout Bay residents.

To this end, the school is part of two international education boards, the International Education System (IES) and the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). The school is diverse, accepting students from different nationalities, cultural and religious backgrounds. 

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program caters for children aged 3.5 to 12 years. Learners have access to modern high tech learning facilities and a host of modern sporting facilities, fully equipped laboratories, studios for creative arts and performing arts, and various courtyards for outdoor activities.

Students are encouraged to take part in numerous sporting and cultural activities. The extra-curricular program also includes community service activities, highlighting the intense emphasis on developing global citizens that embrace diversity and social responsibility. 

4. American International School of Cape Town 

Cape Town is home to another prestigious international school, the American International School of Cape Town (AISCT). AIST was established in 1997 as a private international coeducational institution that offers the educational curriculum of the USA.

The school accommodates learners from the ages of 2 to 18. The primary school-going ages are accommodated from the Early Childhood Development (ECD), elementary school from grades 2 to 5, and middle school for grades 6 to 8. Students are then accepted into the high school from grade 9 to 12.

The school does not follow the normal school calendar in South Africa, but rather implements the northern hemisphere calendar that starts in August ending in June. 

On top of the traditional subjects taught in class, students are exposed to classes like robotics, foreign languages, Design Technologies, performing and dramatic arts classes.

The extramural program consists of an extensive range of sporting activities, and the school is equipped with modern sporting facilities.

The teacher and student population at the American International School of Cape Town is very diverse, comprising of teachers and students from different nationalities spanning six continents.  

5. Christian Brothers College

The Christian Brothers College St John’s is an independent co-educational school that is based on the catholic faith. CBC St John’s is part of the Congregation of Christian Brothers that was founded by Blessed Edmund Rice of the Catholic Church.

The college accepts learners from the ages of 2 to 18. The young ones till grade R are accommodated in the Little Saints Early Childhood Development Centre and the preparatory school unit caters for grades 1 to 7.

CBC St John’s seeks to offer a values-based, transformative education in an environment that is well resourced with adequate support structures for the physical, spiritual, and psychological well-being of the learners. 

List of the 5 best Public primary schools

1. Bergvliet primary school

Bergvliet primary school is a co-educational former model C school that offers classes from Grade R to Grade 7. The school focuses on the quality delivery of the school curriculum in a manner that enhances comprehensive and all-round learning and development of the learners.

In terms of a comprehensive offering, the school offers a wide range of extramural activities that range from sport, music, computer club, chess, poetry, and drama amongst other activities.

Bergvliet primary school also has an impressive plastic recycling program that was featured on the Expresso Show, a popular TV show on one of the national broadcaster’s SABC channels. 

2020 saw Bergvliet primary school celebrate its 70th anniversary, under the theme “70 years of teaching excellence.” The history of Bergvliet primary school began in 1949 when a modern school was built in the newly established suburb of Bergvliet.

Bergvliet was built in the city of Cape Town just after World War II, as a suburb to accommodate soldiers who had served in the war. The school opened its doors to the first learners in 1950 and has since grown to be known as one of the best primary schools in Cape Town.

2. The Grove Primary School

The Grove primary school is a model C co-educational school offering classes from Grade R to Grade 7. The primary school is located in the leafy suburb of Claremont at the foot of the picturesque Table Mountains. It is one of the oldest schools in South Africa. Established in 1885, The Grove Primary school has marked its history of over a century with footprints of academic excellence. 

The school has over the years built its reputation upon three pillars, namely excellence, inclusion, and affordability. The school also prides itself for hosting a cohort of teaching staff that is knowledgeable in their subject matter to deliver quality teaching to their learners. The school also benefits from the services of specialised teachers who address the specialised needs of individuals or groups of learners who may need remedial action.

3. Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School 

The foot of Table Mountain is also home to one other prestigious school that has established itself as a bastion of academic excellence in Cape Town. The Rondebosch suburb is home to the Rondebosch Boys’ Preparatory School, one of the three esteemed Rondebosch schools for boys.

The school admits boys from Grade 1 to Grade 7. Learners in Grade 0 are enrolled at Little Bosch, a separate establishment in the Rondebosch group of schools for pre-primary. The school delivers a robust academic curriculum that is based on the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).

Learners are also exposed to a comprehensive extramural program designed towards developing multitalented students who are active in sports, arts, and cultural activities.

4. Wynberg Girls’ Junior School

Wynberg Girls’ Junior School is recognised as one of the jewels of Cape Town in terms of academic excellence. The school has on several occasions been awarded accolades for academic performance by the Western Cape Education Department for excelling in various assessments conducted throughout the province.

Wynberg Girls’ Junior School has also been recognised for its role in taking the lead in implementing creative teaching and learning innovation programs in the Western Cape province.

Teachers at Wynberg Girls’ Junior School are also leaders in digital innovation in education, and a number of them have achieved the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) Fellow status, a position that empowers them to mentor and teach other teachers to use Microsoft tools for education.

In addition to having tech-savvy teachers, the school has a modern library and a fully equipped computer lab to complement the school’s digital innovation in education program.

The school was one of the first to introduce digital technology to teach entrepreneurship and eCommerce, with the grade 7 learners conducting a virtual event for their 2020 entrepreneurship day.

5. Sun Valley Primary School

Sun Valley Primary School in Fish Hoek has been lauded for successfully implementing an innovative and dynamic approach to teaching and learning, leading to the school consistently attaining high pass rates over the years.

The school implements an integrated learning approach that incorporates numerous learning philosophies that are based on the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) curriculum. 

Sun Valley Primary School also implements an innovative Conflict and Resolution Education (Care) program that seeks to assess and monitor the emotional well-being of both learners and teachers in an environment that fosters community support and a sense of familyhood in the school.

Despite excelling in academics, Sun Valley Primary School is recognised as a competitive sporting school. Various sports teams in the school are well known for excelling in competitive tournaments and sporting leagues in Cape Town and the Western Cape province.

The school also has a vibrant cultural activities program that includes several social clubs and performing arts clubs.

best primary school cape town