Diocesan College

The Diocesan College, or Bishops as it is more commonly known, is an independent day and boarding all-boys school situated in the suburb of Rondebosch in Cape Town, South Africa. The school was established on 8 January 1849 by Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town .

Diocesan College (Bishops)
Diocesan College (Bishops)
Camp Ground Road

Western Cape

TypeAll-Boys Independent College School
MottoPro Fide Et Patria
"For Faith and Fatherland"
FounderThe Rt Revd Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town
PrincipalMr Guy Pearson
GradesN - 12
HousesFounders, White, School, Gray, Ogilvie, Kidd, Birt, Mallett
Color(s)Blue; Light Blue
RivalRondebosch Boys
AffiliationAnglican, HMC, ISASA


The institution consists of three schools: the college for grades 8 – 12; the preparatory school for grades 3 – 7, and the pre-preparatory school for grades N-2.


The college is situated in Campground Road at the main campus, and a small portion of this land is used for the pre-preparatory school. The Preparatory School is situated in Fir Road, Rondebosch close to the college campus.


The college has eight houses: Founders, School and White are the boarding houses, and Birt, Gray, Kidd, Mallett and Ogilvie are for day-scholars. Each house has about 70 to 100 students, and is governed by a house director and an assistant director. The houses are further broken down into tutor groups of about 15 to 20 boys (three or four boys per grade). Each house is equipped with a common room, kitchen, study room, matric room, quad, dining hall, and offices for the head of house and house directors. The preparatory school has four houses: Van der Bijl (for boarders and day-boys), Bramley, Brooke and Charlton.[1]

Houses at Bishops
House name Flag colours Founded Type Housemaster Number of Students
Birt Dark blue, white, light blue 1984 Dayboy Mr Trevor Pasquallie 105
Founders Dark blue, light blue 1911 Boarding Mr David Mallett 70
Gray Blue 1911 Dayboy Mr Joc Wrensch 105
Kidd Light blue, white, dark blue 1981 Dayboy Mr Mervin Walsh 105
Mallett Light blue, white, black 2003 Dayboy Mrs Marion Gardner 105
Ogilvie White, blue, black 1933 Dayboy Mr Ronald Jacobs 105
School Dark blue, blue 1900 Boarding Mr Leon Glanvill 70
White Blue, dark blue 1954 Boarding Mr Jean Nolte 70

Old Boys Union

The institution also offers a dynamic and global alumni organisation, the Old Diocesan Union which has over 5,000 active members in 28 branches around the world.[2]


Matric results

Bishops has had a long history of excellent results in the final South African matric exams, normally written in grade 12 when a boy is of eighteen years of age towards the end of his school career. There are normally dozens of boys who achieve seven distinctions and upwards (a full-house of distinctions) on the exam, and it is not uncommon to see students from the school achieve places in the top 20 students in the Western Cape, as well as part of the top students in South Africa.


153 boys wrote the examinations and passed; 98% achieved a Bachelors pass. There were 493 subject distinctions (3,2 per candidate), making Bishops the top boys school in the Western Cape, and one of the top schools in South Africa. 13% of all subject results were above 90%. 44% of all subject results were above 80%. There were 65 A aggregates (42% of the class) and 13 boys achieved an aggregate of 90% and above. The dux had a 97.5% average, placing him 2nd in the Western Cape and one of the top students in South Africa. The proxime accessit had an average of 92.8%. One boy achieved nine distinctions, five boys achieved eight distinctions, 14 boys achieved seven [3]

Matric Results 2018
Bachelor's Pass Percentage 98%
Subject Distinctions 493
Distinctions per Candidate 3.2
Results above 90% 13%
Results above 80% 44%
A-Aggregate Students 65
Students who achieved 9 distinctions 1
Students who achieved 8 distinctions 5
Students who achieved 7 distinctions 14

Rhodes Scholarship

Bishops is one of four schools in the world to offer an annual Rhodes Scholarship to an ex-pupil to attend the University of Oxford, having been part of the initial Rhodes Scholarship experiment. The school now shares the scholarship with ex-pupils of Herschel School, St. Cyprian's School, and LEAP Schools.[4]

Molteno Library

The original HA Molteno Library (which was initially funded by Harry Anderson Molteno as part of the 125th anniversary of Bishops) was designed by Maciek Miszewski and opened in 1977, before which the library had been housed in the Brooke Chapel. It was recently renovated in 2013 to provide a modern, academic, and cultural hub central to the school grounds. Known still as The Molteno Library, the centre provides digital, written and social resources to expand and enhance learning beyond the classroom and the curriculum. The new entrance opens up the library into the History and English quad, just behind the Memorial Chapel, positioning it as a focal point within the academic precinct of the school. The library consists of three floors and four areas - social and research, learning, reading, and indaba.[5]

School day

The timetable operates on a two-week cycle. The school day begins at 07:45 (with chapel, tutors, and house meetings), however, teaching only begins at 08:25. The school day typically ends at 15:15, with the exception of Fridays (13:20), however, most boys have some form of sports after school. Clubs and societies are occasionally held in the evenings. One notable feature of the timetable is that of an 'open period', an entire hour that boys may do whatever they wish, from music lessons, clubs or societies, study, rest, sports, or simply hang out with peers.

Academic curriculum

Bishops is a WCED school, thereby meaning that they follow the South African system of education, which culminates in the matric exams. It is akin to a liberal-arts education.

Grade 8 - 9[6]

  • Mathematics
    • AP Mathematics for those in advanced sets
  • English
  • Secondary language (Afrikaans, isiXhosa, or French)
  • Life Orientation
  • Science
  • Biology
  • Geography
  • History
  • Economic and Management Sciences
  • Technology
  • A choice of an arts subject (Music, Art, French, isiXhosa, Dramatics)

Grade 10 - 12

  • Mathematics[7]
  • English
  • Secondary language (Afrikaans, isiXhosa, or French)
  • Life Orientation
  • A choice of three subjects from the list below:
    • Science
    • Biology
    • Geography
    • History
    • Accounting
    • Economics
    • Information Technology
    • Dramatics
    • Art
    • Music
    • isiXhosa
    • French

Big Ideas

In 2018, a new trans-disciplinary curriculum was introduced for Grade 9 students called Big Ideas, focusing on sustainability and promoting critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. The curriculum was based off the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a way for students to learn about global issues, and culminated in a project undertaken by all students that tackled an aspect of a global issue.[8]


The school maintains various prizes to award academic ability and merit, ranging from competitions to special ties and jerseys that can be worn as part of uniform. An academic tie is awarded after 3 exam performances of an average above 85% over a boy's college career. An academic jersey is awarded under the same conditions as the academic tie, except that the average required is 90%.[9]

Academic extension

The school offers numerous opportunities to high-performing students for growth. The school enters boys annually into a number of prestigious mathematics competitions such as the UCT Mathematics Competition and the South African Mathematics Olympiad, and many students often qualify for the provincial or national Mathematics teams. The school also participates in the Eskom Science Expo, with many students progressing to prestigious fairs such as ISEF. Senior boys write the National Science Olympiads, with students regularly breaking top 10 in the country, or even winning outright.[10]



Music plays an integral role in the daily life of all boys at Bishops – from daily Chapel Services to the annual Eisteddfod. The aim is to encourage and stimulate a musical interest in all boys who attend the school, whether it is from just hearing music daily to actually playing an instrument and being part of a musical ensemble.[11]


The College has several ensembles that a boy may join.[12]

The Symphony Orchestra, the largest instrumental ensemble in the school, offers the opportunity for group study to players of any orchestral instrument. The ensemble exposes boys to traditional orchestral repertoire as well as lighter, more popular repertoire. The orchestra performs regularly at school functions and events, including the tri-annual Bishops Classic Pops concerts in the Cape Town City Hall. Recent performances have included Piano Concertos (by Mendelssohn, Rachmaninov, and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue), movements of symphonies (by Berlioz and Mahler) and music from films such as The Lord of the Rings, Chicago and Braveheart. The orchestra is currently directed by Mr Joc Wrensch.[12]

Music is an important element of daily chapel worship, and the school is renowned for its choral tradition. Bishops boasts two choirs. The Chapel Choir is a group of about fifty boys who produce the music for College Evensongs and Vesper, Confirmation and Carol Services. The School Choir, which consists of a further fifty boys, combines with the Chapel Choir for large-scale productions. The combined choir is the main component of the tri-annual Bishops Classic Pops performances in the Cape Town City Hall. The choir is directed by Mr Mark Mitchell.[12]

The school also boasts a brass band, wind band, string ensemble, marimba band, and jazz band, as well as Simply Blue, an a cappella group.[12]

John Peake Music School

The John Peake Music School underwent extensive renovations during 2002. It now houses two well-equipped teaching classrooms, five offices for the full-time staff, nine instrumental teaching rooms, a dedicated percussion studio, a staff room, two dedicated practice rooms, the Hyslop Concert Hall, a recording studio, a SoundHouse for music technology and two store rooms.[13]

The SoundHouse is an electronic composition recording studio. It is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to allow boys to produce their own music using software, and also functions as a classroom.[13]

The recording studio offers an opportunity for boys to record and edit their own software. The studio is equipped with an iMac, and has a wide range of microphones to enable boys to record anything from rock bands to classical combs. Two MOTU interfaces allow for up to 16 channels of simultaneous recording. The recording booth is able to connect to both the Studio (generally used for rock and lighter music) and the Hyslop Hall (generally used for Classical groups or Solo Piano). Many boys have used this facility over the past few years to record bands (often original compositions) as well as audition CDs and other projects.[13]

The Hyslop Hall was built in 1971 and is the main venue for school concerts, including the Lunch-Hour Concert program. A Yamaha Grand Piano is permanently housed in this venue.[13]

The Percussion Studio was added to the Music School in the 2002 renovations in order to house all of the percussion instruments. The studio now includes a full set of timpani, 2 drum kits, several mallet percussion instruments and various others.[13]

The Music School is well-stocked with pianos for teaching and performing purposes. There are three grand pianos for performing on (one is housed in the War Memorial Chapel) in addition to another grand piano and eleven upright pianos for teaching purposes. The department also has two Clavinovas (used by the singing teachers) and some portable electric keyboards for use around the school.[13]

The school owns several organs, as well as a harpsichord, housed in both the Memorial Chapel and the Brooke Chapel, as well as within the music school itself.=":1" />


Sexual abuse scandal

The first concerns a teacher, Leonard Kaplan, who was accused of inappropriate conduct toward students. He was ultimately asked to resign from the school.[14][15] One report in the media stated "similar allegations had been made against Kaplan 19 years earlier but he had been allowed to stay on at the school".[16]


In March 2000 five matric boarders were expelled having been found guilty of beating about twenty Grade 9 and Grade 10 students in a hazing 'raid'. Fourteen months prior two boys were also victims of hazing. The school has publicly committed to eradicating the culture of bullying at the school.[17]

Second Sexual abuse scandal

In October 2019 a teacher and water polo coach, Fiona Viotti, was accused of having a sexual relationship with a pupil. When the pupil tried to end the relationship, Viotti allegedly sent them threatening messages. The teacher has since resigned from the school and the investigation is ongoing.[18]

Notable alumni

Notes and references

  1. "House System at Bishops".
  2. "OD Union Homepage".
  3. Pearson, Guy. "Diocesan College Matric Results 2018".
  4. "Rhodes Scholarship Update".
  5. "Bishops Molteno Library".
  6. "Grade 8 and 9 Academics".
  7. "Senior Subject Choice" (PDF).
  8. "Bishops College offers to future fit education to learners".
  9. "Academic Awards".
  10. "Nurturing Students".
  11. "Music at Bishops".
  12. "Ensembles at Bishops".
  13. "John Peake Music School".
  14. "Bishops in sex abuse cover up". News24. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  15. Jordan, Bobby (26 May 2014). "Sex-abuse cover-up at top SA school". Times LIVE. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  16. Jordan, Bobby (3 August 2014). "Police launch probe into Bishops sex claims". Times LIVE. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  17. Murray Williams (24 March 2000). "Boys expelled from Bishops for bullying". IOL News. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  18. Cloete, Norman (11 October 2019). "Teacher implicated in sex scandal at Bishops College resigns". Weekend Argus. Retrieved 15 October 2019.

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