Somerset College – Discovering, Nurturing, Fulfilling Potential

Private Property South Africa
Claire Fraser

Somerset College is an independent, co-educational school offering schooling from Grade 000 to Matric. Founded in 1998, the College has risen quickly to become a leading Western Cape independent school. There are 460 students in the Preparatory School and 575 in the Senior School. There are 120 boarders in the Senior School.

Somerset College is a welcoming, stimulating centre of learning, attending to the potential of all of its learners. As a school with a Christian foundation, the staff and learners work in an environment based on strong values, spiritual development and a strong sense of community service – all of which play a fundamental role in the creation of responsible caring individuals.

The serenity of the beautiful campus is shaped by its surrounds, situated between Somerset West and Stellenbosch. Set on 32 hectares of farmlands with paddocks, mountains and vineyards enveloping the original farm houses (which now accommodate the administrative staff); modern facilities; spacious classrooms, labs, theatres and practice rooms, as well as a range of sporting amenities.

From the entrance into Somerset College, learners become part of a school community that allows them to learn whilst feeling safe and cared for. From pre-school, learners are taught a range of lifelong skills; developing them comprehensively and giving them the ability to succeed as they progress through the school system. At each level, the academic programme is carefully-designed to give learners a meaningful grasp of the syllabus. This is achieved by a dedicated body of teachers and a variety of teaching aids that leave a lasting impression on learners. This also includes a focus on computer literacy from a young age.

Somerset College does not set an entrance exam for enrolment in Grade 8, and yet boasts excellent Matric results, a committed teaching staff and good student work ethic within the school. The Senior School is affiliated to the Independent Examinations Board (IEB). At Somerset College, there is a keen focus on education of the whole child, including academics, sports, cultural, leadership and spiritual development, as well as incorporating environmental and outdoor programmes. As such, every learner can develop a sense of pride in showcasing their individual talent in any number of spheres. Participation in the extra-curricular activities on offer at the school is encouraged and Somerset College has a number of talented sportsmen and women, performers and competitors in a range of disciplines that excel in their chosen fields at both provincial and national level. There is also a high-quality cultural programme.

The location of Somerset College gives it the unique ability to offer Outdoor Education as part of its curriculum. Age appropriate activities and outings are arranged throughout the school career, giving students an appreciation for the environment and enriching their academic education in a variety of forms. As an environmentally-conscious school, Somerset College is a recognised Eco-School and is active in preserving nature via a number of projects.

The flagship of the Senior School Outdoor Education Programme is the Trek. This is a 28-day journey of self-discovery undertaken by all Grade 9 students in November each year, during which they cover 360 kilometres on foot, in canoes and on bicycles. It is the only school adventure of this length of time in South Africa, and is an outstanding educational exercise that teaches children to operate in groups, and to analyse their roles as individuals.

Similarly, the social responsibility initiatives at the school are also in keeping with the core values nurtured by Somerset College. There are a range of projects on the go at all times; all of which benefit members of the local community, as well as aiding in the development of participants from the school. Support is offered to local schools, charities, hospitals, community choirs and homes for the elderly, as well as a number of other worthy causes in the area.

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