A Message from the Principle

education, northcliff house college, school, schools hermanus
It is the end of Term one and it really went quickly! Eleven and a half weeks ago felt like yesterday!

For me, as new Principal of NHC, there were many ups and downs. It made for interesting and frustrating days, but we survived!

Thank you to those parents who have offered a helping hand and have their children’s well-being at heart.


An Article Posted in the local News by Hedda Mittner

Northcliff House College has a new Principal, Gerhard Coetzee. He is a ball of energy, a no-nonsense man who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and jump in to get things done. This energy is serving him well as the new principal of Northcliff House College, having taken over the reins from Vivienne Mitchley, the founder principal of this unique, independent, co-educational school. Vivienne is now chief curriculum developer for the ACAPS class and also teaching Design and Visual Art.

Northcliff House College (NHC) started with five learners in 2000, in the garage of Vivienne’s house in Northcliff – hence the name. Offering the same education as mainstream WCED schools, NHC distinguished itself as an institution that embraces inclusivity by admitting a broad spectrum of learners, including those that do not fit into the mainstream mould.

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By 2005 the school had moved to premises in Westcliff with 43 learners; a few years later they were based in Sandbaai with almost 100 learners. Every time they moved, they soon outgrew their new premises as the school continued to grow. In 2012, when Curro Hermanus bought out the Overstrand Learning Academy, NHC was able to take over their premises in Berghof. It is here that Gerhard is determined to build on NHC’s proud tradition.

The school currently has 170 learners from Grade R – 12 who are experiencing first-hand what inclusivity really means. Understanding / respect towards different cultures, religions and academic abilities is part of the ethos of the school,” says Gerhard. “Our classes are small – no more than 15 learners per class – and our staff is able to diversify and teach on different levels in order to ensure individualised education.”

Surprisingly, considering his passion for education and the youth, Gerhard has not always been a teacher. He did start out as one, having studied for a BSc degree, followed by B Ed Honours in Biology and Educational Psychology. After enrolling for basic army training (he was part of the last compulsory intake in 1992) he taught at Riviersonderend High School for three years before exchanging the classroom for the life of a businessman.

After relocating with his family to Hermanus, Gerhard owned an antique shop and worked as a property consultant before being approached to take up a position at Hermanus High School. There he taught Grade 8 and 9 Mathematics for three years before joining NHC. “Teaching is not a job,” he says, “It’s a calling.” Finally, he was back where he belongs – in the classroom, teaching Natural Science to Grade 8 and 9, as well as Physical Science, Life Sciences and Math Literacy to Grades 10 – 12. He was also appointed as the Overberg Education District’s subject adviser for Life Sciences on contract for three months in 2017.

To accommodate learners with diverse educational needs, the school has developed its own teaching material, within the framework of the CAPS curriculum, and employs an in-house remedial teacher. “Many of our learners would have fallen through the cracks in mainstream schools, because their parents couldn’t find an ideal location that meets their children’s needs,” says Gerhard. At NHC, they are prepared to accommodate learners who experience all manner of challenges– from high achievers to those with learning challenges. The support of our parents is paramount to our success.

“It’s not about ‘fixing’ children – it’s about unlocking their potential,” he says emphatically. Which is why Gerhard gets annoyed when people refer to ‘problem children’.“To see them improve and reach their potential and go on to achieve their goals and dreams is extremely gratifying. We are no different to any mainstream school, except that we embody true inclusivity.”

So how will things change under his leadership? “My management style might be a bit different to Vivienne’s,” he laughs. “I’m very energetic and I like to get things done, but our goals are the same. I work with a great team and each of them loves their chosen field and is willing to go the extra mile.  I expect people to think out of the box.” If you come with a problem, bring a solution with” he says.  I’m also very team-driven and believe that by working together we can accomplish so much more.

“The main challenge remains the sustainability of the school,” he continues. “Financial stress is ever present and we are heavily dependent on parents paying school fees. The other problem is adequate space for the school to continue growing.

Looking back over the years and considering the substantial obstacles this amazing school has overcome in the past, I have no doubt that we will not only persevere but continue to flourish. As I drive out of the gate and down the slope of the Onrus mountain, I am struck by the fact that Northcliff House College is not only a school with a fabulous view, but one with an admirable vision and a dedicated mission.

Overview of the Education Provided by Northcliff House College

Grade R – 12
Northcliff House College is a well-established independent, co-educational school for a new and innovative generation. Northcliff House College caters for learners from Grade R – 12 (National Senior Certificate) and is growing rapidly.

Northcliff House College is a developing independent, co-educational school 

  • We cater for children from Grade R to Grade 12.
  • The school was born out of a need to provide quality education and a fresh alternative to traditional education in Hermanus.
  • It has at its heart a deep commitment to blend, traditional values and principles with the modern need for social responsibility and leadership.
  • It recognises that educating our youth in traditional values, morals and ethics while equipping them with essential life skills and knowledge, is essential to secure their future.
  • This quality, Dual-medium education is offered in small classes with 1-7/1-15 pupil: teacher ratio.
  • A pupil centred approach, modern curriculum design and committed educators ensure the fulfilment of these ideals. By ensuring that the class environment is small and that personal interaction takes place between learners and teachers, a positive academic environment can be created.
  • The locality of the school, set in the natural beauty of Hermanus has been ideal for propagating a “homely“ environment that is safe and secure for all learners and staff.

About our Education at Northcliff House College 

  • Through working with other schools in the area the principal identified a need for an educational institution for children who do not fit into the mainstream educational system.
  • Several of these learners had special needs, suffering either from a learning disability or behavioural problems.
  • The school has a Special Needs class that caters for learners with all kind of problems.
  • Northcliff House College was established in May 2001 with 5 learners, this quickly grew to 9 learners.
  • It was first started as a “home schooling centre”, but as its reputation grew more learners enrolled.
  • It soon registered as an independent school.
  • Over 300 pupils have already made it their home and as the word continues to be spread, the school is geared towards establishing itself as an independent school of excellence.
  • It has already produced successes and impacted the local community and environment in ways that many schools do not achieve.
  • Unique, stimulating opportunities from grade 3, pupils are made aware of the intricacies and wonder of nature and are taken on educational excursions. eg, Vogelgat Reserve, Grootbos Nature Reserve and Fernkloof
  • Reserve and a firm favourite is shark-cage diving.
  • We strive to develop a strong sense of self-worth, accountability and encourage creative and critical thinking in all areas.
  • Firm, positive discipline lays an ethical foundation for dealing with the pressures of an increasingly demanding and complex world.
  • A wide range of academic activities provides a firm foundation for individual expression and the attaining of goals.
  • Areas like debating and participation in The Junior Town Council is encouraged as well as participation in Eisteddfods and Art competitions.


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