Oakhill grew from an idea sown in the early 1990s by pioneering parents who wanted a good education for their children. They sought to establish a school which expressed “joy in learning” and which placed the child at the centre of an integrated curriculum.

With educationalist Allan Graham at the helm, teachers countrywide applied for posts and accepted appointments with no guarantees, save the dedication and enthusiasm of the headmaster and founding parents.

The new school’s 54 students, ranging in age from six to sixteen, spent the first term of 1992 in a unit of the newly opened Woodmill Lane Mall. In April that year the school moved to its permanent location on the hillside above Knysna, sheltered by oaks and with a view of the lagoon. The dream was realised.

Today Oakhill has more than 450 pupils from Grade 000 to Grade 12 and is growing steadily in reputation and numbers, attracting children from local areas and from further afield. College students continue to follow the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) syllabus which maintains international university entrance standards and is the benchmark for the highest education qualifications in South Africa. Excellent academic results and glowing appraisals from external assessors confirm Oakhill’s progress year on year.

Allan Graham laid the foundation in 1992 – with no formal uniform, no prefect system, and strangely compared to today, very little sport. He used his relationship with the IEB to advise Bridgehouse, Somerset, and Principia on opening sister schools, later moving himself to head Bridgehouse. Gary Norton, ex-Marist Brothers College, had a short reign, as did Colin Winchester. Hilton Stander stabilized the school as numbers grew close to 350. Hilton constructed eight new classrooms and effected modernization of facilities.

At the start of 2009, Shane Kidwell, Deputy Head of St Alban’s in Pretoria, took over the leadership to initiate a growth era for Oakhill, with its development of the Oakhill Sports Campus and the Learning Commons block. Shane returned to St Alban’s as Headmaster at the end of 2016, with Jannie de Villiers joining as the new Head of School from 2017. Jannie’s era was one of stability and care during a tumultuous time of ravaging Knysna fires and corporates interested in purchasing Oakhill, before moving on to become Head of DSG in Grahamstown.

Oakhill remains a proudly independent school, and is now entering an exciting new chapter with Head of School, Graham Howarth, who joined Oakhill at the start of Term 2, 2021.

The School is continually improving its facilities – from the classroom to the sports fields. In 2014, Oakhill School purchased 17 hectares of land in the rural suburb of Welbedacht. In August that same year, staff, parents and students celebrated a milestone in Oakhill’s history with the official opening of the Oakhill Sports Campus (OSC). This magnificent facility was first dreamed of 10 years ago by the Oakhill Board and Executive, and today the OSC stands proud with its first phase complete, comprising a state-of-the-art water-based Astroturf, as well as rugby, soccer, cricket and netball fields.

The school’s growth in numbers further accelerated the need for double-streaming, which resulted in the Learning Commons block being opened in May 2015, incorporating seven new classrooms as well as dedicated art, drama and music studios.

It is inevitable when excellence across the curriculum is achieved, a school will grow. Oakhill is prepared for this growth, not only in tangibles, but also in all senses – mind, heart and body. It is a demanding school, expecting dedication and excellence from staff, commitment and involvement from parents and the realisation of their potential from pupils.


Hark! When the night is falling
Hear, hear; a voice is calling –
Loudly and proudly calling, singing the truth.
Then, when the hills are sleeping
Now feel the blood a-leaping,
High as the spirit of our new Knysna youth.
Where – ere your name may roam –
Oakhill my Knysna home’
High may your proud banner gloriously roam -,
School of my high Endeavour,
School on the shining river,
School of my heart forever:
Oakhill the brave!



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