His appointment as headmaster of Chesterhouse School comes with the challenge to provide the best possible education for a wide range of children on the one hand. On the other hand, it is with sadness, Justin Harvey said, as he is filling the place of the previous headmaster, Brendan Doolan, who had to retire at the beginning of the year due to cancer.
Harvey (57) comes to Chesterhouse from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), where he was an institutional management and governance manager since April 2010.
He oversaw the management and governance of a number of schools in the Cape Metropole.
From 2003 to March 2010, Harvey was the headmaster at Lowveld High School in Nelspruit, an English medium school.
Coming to Cape Town was coming home for Harvey, as he was born and grew up in Fish Hoek, where he also now resides. He matriculated at Fish Hoek High.
After school he studied at the Johannesburg College of Education, which is affiliated to Wits University.
He also studied at Unisa to achieve a BA Honours in history.
He has a passion for history, especially Russian and African history. He ascribed that to his love for reading as a child. With a teacher for a father his father was principal of a technical college he grew up in a house full of books, he said.
His first teaching post was at Queens High School in Johannesburg in 1985.
He was also head of department and housemaster at the International School of South Africa in Mafikeng, and head of department at St John’s College in Johannesburg.
It was during this period that he gained invaluable experience with the Cambridge International curriculum, which he taught and administered at both IGCSE and A level.
Although he enjoyed his position at the WCED which he rates the best in the country he missed the dynamics of school life.
“Many state schools (in the Western Cape) are achieving amazing results, some with limited resources.
“Ravensmead High, for instance, had a 90percent pass rate last year,” he said.
“The problems are a lack of access to resources and properly trained and dedicated teachers,” he said.
“All former model C schools however, have the necessary resources and are doing excellently,” he said. There is, however, a growing market for independent schools.
“The numeracy and literacy rates in countries where the Cambridge curriculum is followed, are definitely much higher than in South Africa,” he said.
Even African countries such as Malawi, Botswana and Zambia, where the Cambridge curriculum is used, have higher literacy and numeracy rates than South Africa, he said.
Justin has a passion for the inclusive education of children with barriers to learning, and as such is a member of the Southern African Association for Learning and Educational Difficulties. Justin is keen on sport, and in 1979 represented Western Province in surf lifesaving. During his teaching career he has concentrated on coaching rugby, swimming and athletics.
He plans to move to Uitzicht in Durbanville in December to be closer to the school.
His wife, Mercia, currently a teacher at Fish Hoek High School, will take up a position at Milnerton High School in January.
They have three daughters and a son from previous marriages.