Chapman High School opened its doors on the 09 July 1979. The first principal, Mr WF Benjamin with 34 teachers had 645 Std. 6’s (Grade 8) and 140 Std 7’s (Grade 9).

This brand new school was badly needed as it cleared all the primary schools in the area of Grade 8’s and 4 classes of Grade 9’s from Parkside, Hillcrest, Helenvale, Rufane Donkin, Alpha and Papenkuil Primary schools.

The classes came with their teachers plus a few new teachers as the need arose.

Teachers started teaching on the second day of school as the timetable was completed during the June holidays.

From a strong foundation the school has grown to full high school status with very favourable results.


The school’s name is derived from one of the first ships which brought British Settlers to Algoa Bay in 1820. Originally, Mr Benjamin intended to name the school Henry Ford Ill High School, but this plan was aborted.

The school is a bilingual institution which caters primarily for learners in the Gelvandale area, but the school was one of the first institutions to accept Xhosa learners.

1979 – Staff members were transferred from various primary schools in the Gelvandale area.

09 July 1979 – Mr WF Benjamin opened the school which consisted of 20 Standard 6 and 4 Standard 7 classes, predominantly Afrikaans speaking learners.

Learners came from Alpha, Bayview, George Schmidt, Hillcrest, Parkside, Helenvale and Rufane Donkin in the Gelvandale area.

In 1980, More Standard 6 learners from the primary schools were accepted and the staff complement increased to 65 teachers.

1982 – Chapman High had its first matriculants

1980s – turbulent times in education. The students of Chapman High School embarked in the national school boycotts in 1982, 1983 and 1985.

1984 – Chapman learners led by their SRC protested against the National Party’s Tri-cameral parliamentary elections.

1990s – Chapman High School experienced an exodus of a number of educators due to “right-sizing”, severance packages, early retirement and redeployment. This caused turmoil in schools throughout the country. These measures had far-reaching consequences as staffs were decreased, friendships destroyed and a number of educators left the education fray. Chapman’s staff had decreased from 65 in the 1980s to less than 40 in the 1990s with more learners.

1994 – Chapman High School learners participated in a mock election as a celebration for the first democratic election in South Africa.

1990s – Chapman High School is chosen by the Department of Education as a pilot school in the Outcomes Based Education (OBE) system.

1990s – School pilot school in the GMSA Foundation Whole School Development project

Chapman has increased in stature and has become a highly regarded institution. The school has produced men and women of exceptional caliber in diverse fields.

Chapman has produced a number of talented sportsmen and women in various codes. Initially, sport was played under the banner of SASSSA, a SACOS based organization. With unification of school sport, the popular multi-coded sport systems which SASSSA schools were involved in, came to an abrupt end. Chapman High has produced a number of highly talented sport administrators and coaches.

Chapman’s motto is “Goodness before greatness”. The school attracts its learners from the working class. Many of our learners stem from socio-economically disadvantaged areas, where 60% are dependent on social grants. Despite attracting learners with difficult upbringing, the school has achieved fine results and has produced some of the great leaders in the Gelvandale area.

The educators from Grade 8 to 12, play a monumental role in advancing the school and the community. These teachers should be lauded for their commitment to the community. It has become increasingly difficult to maintain the high standards due to adverse conditions in the community. Financial constraints; gangsterism, teenage pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse and limited resources tend to retract the learners from their primary focus. This must be regarded as a challenge and not a barrier to learning.

The school endeavours to maintain the standard of education for the future. In order to achieve this, a concerted effort need to be made to gain assistance from the community and past pupils. This will encourage learners to strive for the betterment of the circumstances that they are presently in.