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Northcliff High First School Photo

Northcliff’s founding headmaster, Mr Ged Dickerson was asked to open a new high school in Northcliff, and began the preparations – appointing staff, designing the school badge, planning the uniform – so that Northcliff High School could open with 176 Grade 8 pupils in January 1969. Mr Dickerson, a former Latin teacher, provided all the Latin names for Northcliff’s top awards: the Optimus Omnium (Best of All), Nulli Secundus (Second to None) and Magna cum Laude (With Great Honour), and of course the school motto, Nihil tam Altum (Nothing so High).

Northcliff High's 1st Headmaster

Mr Peter Cawdry joined Northcliff as Senior Deputy Headmaster in 1985, and became Headmaster in July 1986 on the retirement of Mr Dickerson. He initiated the building of the lecture theatre complex, first computer centre and the squash courts.

Northcliff High's 2nd Headmaster

Upon Mr Cawdry’s retirement, Mr David Klein took up the post of headmaster in 1997. The year he became principal, was the year Northcliff first held aloft the A League Athletics Trophy. Under Mr Klein’s leadership, the school was equipped with two computer centres and possibly the greatest idea of his, was the Major Production Tour.


Our current headmaster, Mr Walter Essex-Clark, has been the Headmaster since October 2002 and was officially appointed in 2003 after he was the Acting Headmaster when Mr Klein retired in 2002. He joined Northcliff as Deputy Headmaster in 1999. With his calm, easy-going nature, and his strength of character, Mr Essex-Clark has proved the ideal person to meet the challenges of school leadership in the 21st Century South Africa.

Northcliff High's 4th Headmaster

A key to the enormous success of this school has been the stability of the teaching staff. With exceptional leadership over the years, the management team has ensured the school is staffed with committed and experienced educators who are experts in the field. This attracts talented young graduates into a rewarding teaching environment.

From the very early days all the way through to the present, Northcliff High School has lived up to its motto ‘Nihil Tam Altum’ – Nothing So High that courage cannot scale it. Today the school is widely recognised as one of the finest co-educational schools in South Africa.

Meet our staff.


Northcliff High School was established in 1969 at the foot of the hill in the leafy suburb of Northcliff. The founding principles of the school were the pursuit of excellence and a sound value system. Four Headmasters have ensured that the school has maintained a high level of achievement over almost 50 years, at the same time remaining true to its original ideals. 

Northcliff High's 3rd Headmaster
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