Meet our Mentors

David Knowles

Dave Knowles retired as the Executive Headmaster of Clifton School in Durban at the end of 2021, a position he had held since 2018. Prior to this appointment, he was Headmaster of St Stithians Boys’ College in Johannesburg for eleven years. Dave worked as the Deputy Headmaster at the Boys’ College before his promotion, he taught at Kearsney College in KZN, at Dale College in the Eastern Cape and at Bryanston High School in Johannesburg. He also taught for a year at Siyabuswa Secondary School in Limpopo during his national service. He taught History and English, and coached Rugby, Swimming and Water Polo, and served on various school and regional/provincial educational and professional committees.


Dave currently serves on the Board of the Independent Examination Board and has chaired the Central Region of SAHISA (the Independent Schools’ Heads Association) for four years and served on the ISASA Council (the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa) for eight years. He was on the Board of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition (the IBSC) from 2012, serving as a Trustee and Vice-Chair for Africa from 2015 until 2020. He was also Vice-Chair of SA Schools Rowing from 2011 to 2017.


As a result of Dave’s’ various involvements, he has been able to travel widely during his career, both locally and particularly internationally, on various sports tours, IBSC and Round Square local and international conferences, and on History tours. Dave is passionate about the role that boys’ schools can and should play in the development of “good men”, to counter such societal issues as gender-based violence and toxic masculinity.


He was heavily involved in the designing and implementation of whole-school, time-tabled leadership and character development programmes and curricula. Similarly, he views the implementation of effective staff professional development programmes as critical to a school’s success. Dave is a graduate of Rhodes University, where he obtained a BA (Hons) and an HDE. He also has a post graduate diploma in Educational Management from UNISA/CESA and attended Harvard University’s post graduate course in leadership and vision. He was a Springbok Scout and received the Chief Scout of SA Award, although he says that his schooling career as a boy was “spectacularly unspectacular”! He has been married to Susannah for almost 36 years and they have two adult children, Anthony and Michelle. Dave remains interested in education, but having sold his BMW R1200 tourer, now also enjoys watching sport, reading, history and tending his bonsai collection!