On 22 January 1902, two remarkable women of Scottish descent, Jean Fletcher and Jessie Johnston opened St Andrew’s High School and kindergarten in two semi-detached buildings in Esselen Street, Hospital Hill, Johannesburg. The founding year saw 19 boys and girls between six and 14 years of age enrolled at St Andrew’s, as well as one matriculant. In 1904, the school moved to purpose-built premises on Girton Road in Parktown.
By 1920, the school had grown and Jean Fletcher, in her own capacity – unusual for a woman at that time – raised funds to buy a portion of Bedford Farm from Lady Ella Farrar, the widow of Sir George Farrar. Bedford Farm included the large homestead designed by the prominent architect, Sir Herbert Baker. This iconic building is the cornerstone of our school, and a significant feature on our school property.
Miss Jean Fletcher
Miss Jessie Johnston
In March 1921, the school relocated to Bedford Farm, its present-day site. The main house provided accommodation for staff and students, teaching rooms, office space, and dining and recreation rooms. Thatched outdoor structures provided additional classrooms. Due to its distance from the city centre, St Andrew’s offered boarding, which became a popular choice for many students. Today, our beautiful modern boarding house accommodates 80 students, from Grade 8 to 12.
In 1922, after the passing of Jean Fletcher, a group of parents formed a company called St Andrew’s School Limited, which took over the management of the school. Miss Cheetham was appointed as the headmistress. After initially leasing the premises, the company was eventually able to purchase most of the property from the Fletcher Trust. The School became a Section 21, Not-for-profit company in 2007.
Since Miss Cheetham concluded her headship in 1945, there have been several long-serving heads at St Andrew’s, including Minnie Neave (1949 – 1970), Frank Simmonds (1973 – 1994) and Pauline Jackson (2003 – 2013), each a trailblazer in their time. In 1952, a biology laboratory, the School Hall, a Chapel, and the Junior School were constructed. As a result of Mrs Jackson’s understanding of the importance of investing in early childhood development, our Preschool was established in 2004.
Establishment of uBambiswano
In 1990, under the visionary leadership of Mr Simmonds, the St Andrew’s Outreach Foundation launched three initial projects: Student sponsorship; The Bridging Centre run by Gill Morris; and the Outreach Centre driven by Dave Tredrea. Today, our community engagement programme, uBambiswano, is an integral part of our school structure and continues to thrive as our fourth school.
A new management structure
2017 saw a change to the management structure of the school, with the appointment of an Executive Head, Ivanka Acquisto, in addition to operational heads for the four schools, i.e. the Preschool, Junior School, Senior School and uBambiswano.
A consistent motto and vision
Our school motto, ‘Per angusta ad augusta’, meaning ‘from tribulation to triumph’, has been particularly apt over the years and continues to inspire our community, along with our vision of ‘Skilled for Life’.