The name “Fairbairn” was formed centuries ago by the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes in Britain. It was a name typically given to a person with attractive, youthful looks, or someone who was noted as having been a beautiful child. It was derived from the Old English words fair, which means lovely, and bearn, meaning child.

The exponential growth in the Goodwood and Parow municipal areas during the 1960s and 1970s necessitated the establishment of new schools in the northern areas of Cape Town to cater for the burgeoning population. At the time JG Meiring High School was the only secondary school in Goodwood that accommodated English speakers.

The Goodwood/Vasco English-medium school was founded on the 1st of October 1976 with the appointment of Mr CE de Wet as the headmaster. The deputy principal and secretary were temporarily accommodated in the board room of the Parow School Board until completion of the administrative section of the College in January 1977.

The opening assembly was held on 19 January 1977. In the first year, Fairbairn catered for Standards 6, 7 and 8. The majority of Standards 7 and 8 pupils were enrolled from the nearby JG Meiring High School. Fairbairn was officially inaugurated a year later, on 24 February 1978, by Dr PS Meyer, Director of Education of the Cape Province.

At the first meeting on the 28 March 1977, the school committee unanimously decided to name the school Fairbairn College, however, the Parow School Board and Cape Education Department over-ruled their decision, approving instead the name Fairbairn High School. The School was named after John Fairbairn who was invited to the Cape by Thomas Pringle to start a school for the children of the 1820 settlers. After Fairbairn was declared a Model C state-aided school, the Governing Body, on 23 November 1992, unanimously resolved to use its new powers to change the name to Fairbairn College. The Cape Education Department was informed of this decision and the name was changed in the official records on 11 February 1993. Fairbairn opened with a staff of nineteen educators and 356 pupils.

Since the opening in 1977, there have been 4 headmasters:

1 October 1976 – 30 September 1983 Mr CE de Wet

1 October 1983 – 30 June 1998 Mr RK Weatherdon

1 January 1999 – 31 December 2001 Mrs SL van Zyl

1 July 2002 – present Mr B Marchand

College Song

In June 1980, Mrs Bruwer and her family were in Salisbury, England because her husband was working in a hospital there.
Mr de Wet, the founder principal, asked Mrs Bruwer to try to find a school song for Fairbairn while she was in England.
One evening she was sitting in Salisbury Cathedral and the gentleman sitting next to her introduced himself as the Reverend Hugh Blenkin.
When she told him about her mission to find a school song, he offered to write it. The words he wrote are the words we sing today.
However, the music he composed was very difficult for pupils to sing.
The problem is that the music must be suitable for both girls and boys voices and also the wide range of voices. The result is that Mrs Bruwer then composed the music for the words written by Rev Blenkin.
The College song was sung for the first time in March 1981.


During the initial planning discussions, Mr de Wet and Mr Weatherdon discussed the direction which the new school should take. They deliberated whether Fairbairn should be established as a traditional school or as a modern, twentieth-century school. They compared the success and status of traditional and modern schools and agreed that Fairbairn would be established on the proven educational principles of a traditional English-medium school where the best aspects of tradition would be blended with modern educational methods. This was a moment which set the course for establishing Fairbairn as a school, first and foremost, of academic excellence.

In the first school magazine the aim of the school was set out as follows:

The aim of the school is to develop the ‘whole individual’ – body, mind and spirit, and to balance academic work with a comprehensive sports programme and a non-denominational approach to religion. The school attaches great importance to a spirit of good fellowship among pupils and between pupils and staff, hence the school’s motto – Veritas et Integritas, meaning ‘honesty and integrity’

To fully understand the direction in which Fairbairn College was led in the twenty-first century, it is necessary to delve into the philosophy of life and also the philosophy of education to which Headmaster, Mr Bernie Marchand, adheres. Since 2002 the Headmaster’s tenure at the school has been marked by phenomenal development in a variety of areas, huge achievements accomplished in the past fifteen years.

As far as amenities expansion and development are concerned, projects large and small have improved the facilities exponentially. These amenities include a heated pool, private rooms for senior members, two state of the art seminar rooms with the latest technology and additional classrooms added over time. The facilities adjacent to the main school have not been neglected either. The pressure on parking resulted in the number of parking bays provided. Palisade fencing was also erected around the perimeter of the grounds to tidy up the area and to provide much needed security for the estate. At the same time, beautification has not been neglected and extensive gardens have been laid out, indigenous and water wise trees, and the senior area hard surface was upgraded and enhanced the appearance of the school. The foyer has also been updated upon entering the school and visitors are made instantly aware that there is a touch of class at this educational establishment.

To cater for the demands of competitive sport, a vast amount of money were spent on the resurfacing of nine tennis and six netball courts. To top all of this, the greatest single expenditure on facilities was the construction of an AstroTurf for hockey.

In the area of Information Technology the College boasts with 160 computers, new servers in two computer laboratories, interactive white board technology in the Mathematics classrooms, data projectors in all classrooms, computers in each classroom including internet connectivity and audio equipment for teaching and lastly Fairbairn College also has a great web and social media presence, a school communicative system, SMS Web and WiFi hotspots.

THE ANNUAL BIG WALK FUND RAISER has been one of the greatest achievements which funds many of the projects mentioned above. In 2003 R190 000 was collected in 8 weeks. By 2014 this figure had risen annually to over half a million rand and in 2017 the staggering figure of R541 971:52 was raised. Over the past fifteen years students and teachers have put in a great deal of effort to raise money annually for the school and we now as an institution reap the benefits. Asking for money is not an easy matter. Motivating why the school should get it and not some other form of wasteful expenditure is a skill well learned. The children can take what they learn about human nature, communication and entrepreneurship into the world of work which they are bound to traverse in the not too distant future. It is no wonder that Fairbairnians outperform their competitors at university, in business and in the workplace generally.

In the areas of pastoral and discipline the high standards the public have come to associate with the school have been maintained.

In conclusion, this school has been one of the best kept “secrets” in the realm of educational opportunity in South Africa. It is truly one of the top schools in the country. In terms of excellent value for money, no private school and very few government schools can offer a fraction that which Fairbairn College does.

Fairbairn College is indeed a celebration of EXCELLENCE in the field of secondary education and lives up to our mission which states: The mission of Fairbairn College, a child-focused, school-community partnership, is to prepare learners to be responsible members of an ever-changing society by inspiring educational excellence in a secure, caring environment.


Phone: 021 591 7117
Fax: 021 591 0107
Email: admin@fairbairncollege.com
Email: bursar@fairbairncollege.com (Finances)
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