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New principal vows to make Sans Souci Girls High a 'school of choice'

The newly elected principal of San Souci Girls High School Ruschda O’Shea addressed pupils at an assembly at the school on Tuesday morning.

New Sans Souci Girls High principal Ruschda O’Shea. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Newlands high school has appointed a new principal - the first person of colour in this role.

The newly-elected principal of Sans Souci Girls High School Ruschda O’Shea addressed pupils at an assembly at the school on Tuesday morning.

With 23 years of experience under her belt, O’Shea says she would like to "rebrand" the school following protests over racism and discrimination in 2016, making it a "school of choice".

O’Shea says the key focus is academics and using the school's resources to its full capacity.

In 2016, San Souci pupils joined Pretoria High School for Girls in protest against the schools’ codes of conduct and hair policies.

The school was the subject of an investigation into claims of racism and discrimination. At the time, a number of pupils claimed they were subjected to racism by several teachers and the previous principal Charmaine Murray.

Joined by former pupils, the teenagers spoke out about the school's language and uniform policies at the Newlands school.

Speaking about what her focus would be, O’Shea said: “The girls need to understand that this is a place of teaching and learning. So academics is going to take the key focus here. And I think because of the protest and the girls being excited with this new-found freedom, that they need to understand that this is still an institution where teaching and learning is our key focus.”

Other plans include getting pupils involved in sporting and various other activities.

O’Shea was previously at Tafelsig High School in Mitchells Plain for eight years, an area where pupils face a range of social issues such as gang violence and frequent drug activity.

She says she hopes to use this experience in her new role.

“Firstly, it’s just to be an ear to the learners, to the staff and just to listen to people. Come with a plan that will suit and benefit all of us.”