St John's College

16 January 2019

Dear Members of the St John’s Community

2018 Examination Results

The national end-of-year Matriculation results, both Independent Education Board (IEB) and National Senior Certificate (NSC) are always greeted with much fanfare and given considerable attention in print, electronic and social media. Attention is paid to the candidates who excel and, especially in the state system, the annual pass rate. School marketing departments are in overdrive!

With each school understandably trying to highlight its strengths and display its top performers, education departments proclaiming yearly improvements, politicians weighing in and the reductionist approach taken by many social media “analysts”, it can very difficult to distinguish schools’ performances.

The first meeting of the St John’s Council each year is dedicated to an analysis of our results, an examination of our strengths and weaknesses, assessment of the implications for our overall educational offering and strategising as to the best way forward to enable St John’s to continue to distinguish itself as a centre of excellence.

IEB Matric

It is important to emphasise that, although St John’s offers both IEB and Cambridge A Levels, as a school we are committed to the IEB as our primary educational offering believing it to be a diverse curriculum of an excellent standard that has been benchmarked against similar international exit exams.

The vast majority of our matriculants continue to enrol in major South African universities and many are offered placements at leading international universities based on the excellence of their IEB results. St John’s College has a special relationship with City University, Hong Kong and several boys have been awarded scholarships for their superb results in 2018.

Rather than only focusing on individual performers (many of whom were outstanding), looking beyond the high-achieving individuals, the class the 2018 was exceptional in many ways:

  • 40% achieved an average of over 80%.
  • 71% averaged over 70%.
  • 57% of those writing mathematics achieved an A symbol.
  • Importantly, St John’s encourages boys to remain in mathematics as long as possible and so has a much higher proportion of candidates taking mathematics rather than maths literacy. .
  • Every St John’s candidate takes either physical and/or life sciences and these results were outstanding.

Demonstrating the breadth of the educational offering beyond the sciences, performance in the English and History results were excellent and above most of our peers. Both of these subjects improved significantly from 2017. Dramatic Arts, incredibly, achieved 31 As from 33 candidates. 15 out of 22 students achieved distinctions in Information Technology and eight out of nine students in French achieved an A symbol.

The success in terms of top performers demonstrated significant depth in this cohort as well as across subjects and all departments are to be congratulated.

Cambridge International A Levels

St John’s College has had a Sixth Form for 80 years. These students are an eclectic group drawn from Africa and the world who come to St John’s to write the Cambridge International AS and A Level examinations. The 2018 results help explain the extremely high demand for places in St John’s Sixth Form. The 2018 results are the best on record. The exceptional achievement of last year’s group confirms our reputation as an international centre of excellence for A Level studies that continues to be a distinguishing feature of the St John’s educational offering.

The differing study styles and critical thinking associated with the A Level syllabus taught by the College academic staff filters down into the College and enriches the teaching and learning from Remove through to matric.

The St John’s College Academy

In its 10th year, the Academy students drawn from schools in Hillbrow and Highlands North achieved very pleasing results. The highest achiever attained four distinctions and 76% for Advanced Programme Mathematics (written with the College boys). 93% achieved a Bachelor’s Degree pass compared with the national average of 21%.

The College staff who tutor English, Mathematics, Physical Science and Life Skills at the Academy in the afternoons have done an outstanding job in preparing these young men to continue their education and contribute to society. One of the outstanding Matriculants has been given a scholarship to continue his studies in the Sixth Form whilst many will follow other Academy alumni who have qualified as teachers, engineers, actuaries and other professionals able to contribute meaningfully to South Africa.

The impact that the St John’s College Academy has had on many young lives is considerable. We remain acutely aware of our position of privilege and our obligation to South African society. Council and the St John’s College Foundation will continue to support the Academy and look forward to the establishment of the St John’s Prep Academy in 2019 as a meaningful way to contribute to our surrounding communities and empower young men through sharing our educational resources.

A sense of perspective

Names of the top achievers are deliberately not mentioned here. Their exceptional achievements are available for all to see at For the last few years our Marketing & Communications Department has focused on allowing St John’s school leavers to relate their individual stories via Facebook (@stjohnscollegeSA), Instagram (@stjohns_college) and Twitter (@stjohns_college) that tell of experiences expanding far beyond the classroom, reiterating that education is about so much more than the number of distinctions.

One of the strengths of St John’s often not publicised is the extent of academic support given to students who are underperforming. Behind the statistics are many students who, through their own endeavour, the support of parents and with the help of their teachers, turned D’s into B’s, overcame illness and life challenges and, in their own way, contributed to making the class of 2018 so exceptional.

In addition, many Johannians achieved excellent Matric results whilst also excelling on the sports field and in a range of cultural activities. This commitment to all-round excellence remains a hallmark of the education offered at St John’s.

We all play a part

In conversations to offer my congratulations to successful students, their parents and the College academic staff, the response from all was a consistent one: “This was a team effort”. The interviews and comments by these young Johannians on our social media platforms pay tribute to teachers from the Foundation phase, through the Prep and the College, parents who often sacrifice considerably and a culture of pride in academic excellence amongst their student peers.

Council has identified outstanding teachers and innovative teaching as strategic imperatives on our path to our 125th anniversary. If we look beyond just Matric distinctions and appreciate the team effort required to achieve sustained excellence in many areas of education in an environment that nurtures a range of talents, we will live up to our founders’ belief in educating in “body, mind and character” and achieve our ambition of being a world-class Christian, African school.

We specifically thank Mr Paul Edey for his leadership as Executive Head, Mr Patrick Lees and Mrs Jane Lane for nurturing so many of this class through their formative educational years, Mrs Kate Byrne for maintaining sustained excellence in the Sixth Form and Mrs Agnes Nugent for her passionate guidance of the Academy. You are great leaders of exceptional teams.

To all the St John’s teachers, students and parents who have helped build this success in 2018 - thank you! Due to all your efforts, St John’s College will continue to offer an all-round and diverse education that extends beyond successful Matric results.

Yours sincerely

Dr Jon Patricios

Chairman of Council