Academics Overview

Academics at DHS

Academic education is one of the great challenges of the 21st Century. We live in a society that is changing with exponential rapidity. It is governed by shifting and blindingly quick technologies, environmental challenges and alarming conflict patterns. It is into this world that all school-leaving adults are launched. The boys, who are becoming men at DHS, are no exception.

Cognisant of the demands that will be made on the adults of tomorrow, DHS prepares its learners with the best possible education in this regard. Academic education is perhaps the most important component of this preparation and extends far beyond the achievement of exam results.

“May each and every one of them ever remember that as he is, so is his School.”

D C Thompson,
9th Head Master of Durban High School.

Year in and year out, DHS is one of the stellar performers when the province’s matric results are listed, with an 86% matric exemption rate over the past five years. The School frequently has learners in the top 10 candidate rating. A aggregates and subject distinctions are widely achieved on an annual basis and numerous successes have been notched up in the field of Olympiads and Science Expositions over the years.

These quantifiable successes are necessary if DHS is to be measured among the top academic institutions in South Africa. However, by its own standards, through a commitment to its “Heritage of Excellence” ethos, they are not always enough. The DHS holistic approach to education which incorporates a host of finely-tuned variables to prepare for the future prevails. This is an inclusive process for all boys, from average learners to top academics. It is underpinned by rock- solid support structures and a highly qualified, dedicated, responsive and committed staff who are passionate in their vocation and accomplished in their various fields. Classes are organised to be on average, less than 30-strong and boys are individually assisted through a goal setting system.

This individual support is augmented by a career guidance and a counselling infrastructure that encourages boys to assess critically their strengths and weaknesses. This practice assists them in their choice of subjects and potential career paths.

The successes of alumni in various academic pursuits bears testimony to the preparation provided by DHS during their vital senior school stage. This preparation is extended to encompass new options and possibilities for learners as we embark on an exciting journey in education, the National Senior Certificate (NSC) for Grade 12 learners.

DHS facilities are top-notch. Our Media Centre includes a contemporary library, state-of-the-art IT and audio-visual centres. The School is embarking on an extensive upgrade of existing classrooms and specialised facilities, such as laboratories and dramatic arts venues.

Subjects Offered at DHS

DHS offers the following subjects in the GET and FET phases:

Junior Phase (Grades 8 and 9):

  • English Home Language
  • Afrikaans First Additional Language
  • isiZulu First Additional Language
  • Economic Management Sciences
  • Arts and Culture
  • Technology
  • Geography
  • History
  • Natural Sciences
  • Life Orientation
  • Mathematics

Senior Phase (Grades 10 -12):

  • English Home Language
  • Afrikaans First Additional Language
  • isiZulu First Additional Language
  • Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy
  • Accounting
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History
  • Information Technology
  • Life Orientation
  • Physical Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Visual Arts
  • Dramatic Arts
  • Engineering Graphics & Design

Academic Information


Current class sizes in Grade 8 and 9 stand are a maximum of 28 learners per class. The philosophy behind this is to ensure that pupils in these two grades receive as much academic support as possible when they are making the transition from primary to high school. In certain subjects (ie, Mathematics and Languages) some classes are split even further to ensure that individual attention is provided to pupils who may experience difficulties in these specific subject areas. Class sizes in Grades 10 – 12 vary according to subject choice and may vary from 1:15 to 1:30 (maximum). In addition to a well structured mentorship programme, learner support department and counselling policy at the school, we also offer Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, English and Afrikaans Support Services to learners after hours should they wish to achieve additional expert tuition.

Academic Achievement

Durban High School is recognised as an educational institution of excellence and our results reflect this.

We frequently have learners in the top 10 in the province based on their National Senior certificate results and our pass and exemption rates over a number of years have been outstanding. The number of A aggregates and subject distinctions that are achieved on an annual basis makes DHS one of the top traditional boys school in KwaZulu Natal and one of the very best in South Africa. DHS also has an enviable reputation when it comes to academic achievements outside the classroom and numerous successes have been achieved in various Olympiads and Expositions that are held on an annual basis.

DHS has always prided itself on preparing ALL its learners for the future, whether it be the top academics or the average learner who might struggle with certain subjects. Our holistic approach to education, backed up by sound support structures and a committed, dedicated and well qualified staff ensure that DHS will continue to remain at the forefront of educational excellence in the years and decades to come.

International Studies Programme

What is the purpose of the International Studies Programme?

While the benefits of the ISP are many and varied, our core aim is to provide an opportunity for DHS learners to gain an international perspective, establish cross-cultural and interpersonal skills which will insure their success in the global environment of the 21st century.

  • This programme encourages learners to connect with each other by completing specific academically driven assignments via “live” internet discussion using technologies such as Skype, Facebook and email. Each learner establishes a relationship with one particular student in the corresponding nation. This programme is an opportunity for students to expand their cultural understanding, reflect upon their own cultural and national heritage and develop skills in working with international students on specific academic assignments.
  • This is an Independent Study course. Learners are expected to:
  • communicate with their international partner about once a week,
  • attend monthly classes and,
  • meet with their teacher twice a month.
  • There are eight assignments which are placed throughout the year including topics which require comparison of cultures, school systems, economies, challenges facing their nations and personal family history.
  • Students who have success in the programme receive a letter with their final Grade 11 report detailing their participation and core competencies mastered.
  • We are placing learners with international partners who speak English and have committed to continual communication. Participating countries are:  USA and Portugal. Plans are underway to partner with a school in Kenya, Ghana and India.
  • It is our hope that students will develop a lasting relationship with their partner. Correspondent students from the USA and Portugal will be visiting DHS in 2017 and 2018 and we will be travelling to some of these locations in the course of 2018.
  • The ISP is run by two teachers in the DHS History Department. Questions can be directed to:

Mr Botha at

“Ours is a world of 24-hour-news cycles, global markets, and high-speed Internet. We need to look no further than our morning paper to see that our future, and the future of our children, is inextricably linked to the complex challenges of the global community. And for our children to be prepared to take their place in that world and rise to those challenges, they must first understand it.”

Roderick Paige, Former US Secretary of Education

For further information, please download the following document:

International Studies Programme

D6 Communicator