South Africa
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Parents lose bid to have Sunningdale Primary School's admissions policy declared unconstitutional

Cape Town - Parents who had sued the school governing body of Sunningdale Primary School and the Education MEC over the schools admissions policy have lost their case after a Western Cape High Court judge dismissed their application.

The parents, Sango and Felicia Hesewu, who wanted their daughter to be admitted and enrolled at the school as a Grade R pupil for the 2021 school year, wanted the school’s admission policy declared unfair and inconsistent with the Constitution.

The parents had taken issue with the school governing body’s admission policy which prefers pupils of Sunningdale Primary School to have an address designated by the City of Cape Town “Sunningdale”, or those who already have siblings at the school which they wanted declared unlawful and inconsistent with the Constitution.

In July last year the school governing body refused their application for the admission of their daughter to the school while the MEC had dismissed their appeal against the refusal.

The case had been placed on the urgent roll and was to be heard in November last year, but shortly before the day the parents removed the matter from the roll.

Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said that this withdrawal of the suit appeared to have come about when the parents were successful in enrolling their daughter in Grade R for 2021 at another school close to their home.

He said that as a result the parents no longer required a setting aside of the decision of the governing body not to grant their daughter admission to Sunningdale Primary.

The parents however amended their suit in March 2021, and indicated that they intended to pursue the part of their original application that sought that the governing body’s admission policy be declared racist and unconstitutional.

The judge found that the school’s admissions statistics showed that the majority of entrants to Grade R came from outside Sunningdale, and that a significant proportion of which came from Parklands.

“There is simply no objectively verifiable evidence to support an allegation of racially based exclusion or unfair discrimination.

“On the contrary, the undisputed evidence is that the school’s admissions policy is subject to regular review in consultation with representatives of several other primary schools in the surrounding area and the Western Cape Education Department.

“This review is to ensure that, in an appropriately integrated manner, it effectively serves the educational needs not only of the Sunningdale community, but also of the broader Blouberg community, including Parklands and West Beach.

“The national admissions policy allows heads of departments, after consultation with representatives of governing bodies, to determine feeder zones in order to control the learner numbers of schools and co-ordinate parental preferences.

“The evidence points ineluctably to the fact that the application for their daughter’s admission failed because it was submitted comparatively late relative to the competing applications,” said Judge Binns-Ward.