Uplands High School opened on the 18th of January 1971 with Mr J.H. Kruger Acting Principal and 14 teachers, and by 26 January 1971 there were 140 pupils (104 boys and 36 girls) on the roll and the Staff had increased to 18 teachers and a secretary. The pupils had been drawn mainly from Harward Boys High, Russell High, Hoerskool Voortrekker and Hoerskool Gert maritz, with a few pupils from the other high schools in Pietermaritzburg.

The purpose of the school was to provide an education with a strong practical bias for those pupils who could note cope with the demands of the Practical course in the normal high schools, and to provide for the further education of those pupils who were too old for the Special Classes in the primary school.

The pupils spent half their time doing normal school subjects, viz. Main language, Second language, General Mathematics, Natural Science, History and Geography at a level suited to their abilities; and the other half of their time was spent on the practical subjects, of which the following were offered:

for Boys – Woodwork, Metalwork, Panelbeating and Spray Painting;
for Girls – Needlework, Cookery, Hairdressing and Typing.


In January 1972 Mr J. van Wijk assumed duty as Principal, and with 174 pupils on the role an extra seven teachers were appointed to the staff. The second term of 1972 Mr. van Wijk was absent due to illness and Mr. W Allen acted as Principal. – Mr. van Wijk was back in the third quarter.

In January 1973 the school opened with 176 pupils on the roll (70 Afrikaans Medium and 106 English Medium) and Staff increased to 29 teachers including Mr. Gould as Vice-Principal.

On 11 May 1973 it was announced, in the Natal Witness that tenders had been called, in the Provincial Gazette of 10 May 1973 for the building of a new High School complex, with Workshops and a Hostel, in Newton Road. The new school and hostel was to house the Special School then known as Uplands High School, and the complex was expected to cost in the region of R1 800 000.

Mr. van Wijk was on long leave for the third term of 1973 and Mr. Gould acted as Principal. – Mr. van Wijk was back in the fourth quarter.

In January 1974 the school opened with 127 pupils on the roll. – The original pupils from the Practical Classes at the High Schools seemed to have worked their way through the school and the intake was now mainly from the Special Classes in the Primary School, with far fewer pupils coming in from the High Schools. – The school closed at the end of 1974 with 137 pupils on the roll and opened in January 1975 with 133 pupils.

On 10 March 1975 Mr. van Wijk left school due to illness and Mr. W. Allen appointed Acting Principal, which post he retained until the end of 1975.


In January 1976 Mr. C. R. Dent assumed duty as Principal and Mr. W. C. Hartzenberg as Vice Principal. – The School opened with 122 pupils on the roll. – In March 1976 we were informaed that we would probably move into the new school building towards the end of the year, and at a parents A.G.M. on 15/3/76 it was decided to approach the N.E.D. with a request to change the name of the school w.e.f the time of the move, to Newton High School. This name was selected (a) because the site of the new buildings were in Newton Road, (b) because the name “Newton” was the same in both official languages and (c) because it was fairly easy for the pupils to learn to spell. The Administrator in Executive Committee acceded to the request.

It was also decided at the same Parents A.G.M. to change the basic colour of the school uniform from mustard-brown to bottle-green; and to change the school motto from “Awake – Ontwaak” to “Docere”, the latter giving a truer picture of what we, in the school, are tryng to do for our pupils. – The N.E.D. acceded to all these requests. On 22 November 1976 the school moved from the old premises in Albany Road to the new premises and we had a new school with a new name, new uniform and new motto. – It had also been decided at the Parents A.G.M. on 15/3/76 to change the names of the school houses from “Black”, “Brown” and “Gold” to “Hertzog”, “Botha” and “Smuts”, the fomrer three names being the basic colours of the old school and the latter names those of the first three Prime Ministers of the Republic of South Africa.

Looking Forward

Mr. DP Ellapen (former Principal of WA Lewitt School) assumed the Principalship of Newton Pre – Vocational School in January 2008. He took over the reigns from Mrs V. Bornheimer who was the outgoing Acting Principal. Ms PE Mthembu also joined the staff at the same time as Deputy Principal (on transfer from Edendale Technical School).

After completing a SWOT analysis the school and SGB re-configured the Vision and Mission statement and aligned it to the global Pre–Vocational schooling trends and the imperatives and prescripts contained in White Paper 6.

With a sound foundation set by the previous managements the school then set on a new course direction in the following areas.

  • The skilling of all educators in the didactics of Multi – Level Teaching. The once “one size fits all” lessons and assessments are being improved upon by being differentiated and adapted.
  • The addition of other trade and allied subjects (Agriculture, Child Care, Do it Yourself, Electrical Technology and Engineering Graphics and Drawings, Plumbing, Economic and Management Science) helped to ease the congestion in the over crowded workshops.
  • Recapitalisation and Refurbishment of tools , equipment and the ageing workshop buildings. In conjunction with the Department of Education millions of rands was spent on the replacement of obsolete and broken tools/machines and repairs to workshop buildings.
  • The upgrading and introduction of the latest Information and Communication Technology. Software and hardware were obtained to support a range of Teaching and Learning practices in the form of Document Cameras, Smart Boards, eBooks and the Internet. The new Media Centre is now a hive of activities at the school.
  • Transformation of the staff profile to reflect the demographics of the learners. Today Newton is one of the few schools in Pietermaritzburg that has the most transformed staff that reflects the demographics of our learners.

The school is currently in the monitoring and evaluation phases of the above initiatives.

Ms P. Mthembu

Ms Mthembu came on transfer to Newton School as Deputy Principal from the Edendale Technical College in January 2008.

Her area of specialisation was in the Technical field having taught Engineering Drawing Graphics and Mathematics at Senior Certificate level. She had oversight over both the Technical and Academic Sections at Newton and managed the hostel and kithen staff with distinction.. On 1 November 2014 she resigned and joined the staff at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as a lecturer in Department of Education – School Management. She played a pivital role in curriculum and professional development at Newton school.