In January 1926 the P.E. Secondary School was opened in the old hospital buildings on Richmond Hill, with an enrolment of 35 pupils, both girls and boys.  The founder principal was Mr Leo Deary.  The school moved in July 1927, to the Grey Institute buildings on the Donkin.  In January 1928 the school was named Pearson High School after the Hon. William Pearson, who served as mayor of Port Elizabeth for 16 years.

Afrikaans was recognized as a medium of instruction in South African schools until standard six, but in 1928 fifteen Port Elizabeth pupils wished to continue their schooling further through the medium of Afrikaans.  Pearson was the only school in Port Elizabeth able to manage this.  In 1938, under the headmastership of Mr H. Bezemer (1938 – 1947), the first Afrikaans-medium class passed the Senior Certificate examination.  At this stage our enrolment figure stood at 575 and Pearson was the only parallel-medium high school in the Eastern Cape and Border area with classes offered in both languages in all standards.

Pearson had become the high school with the highest enrolment in the province.  As extra accommodation was needed, a new school was built in Bayview Avenue (now Erica Girls’ School).  The school moved to this site in 1941.

Mr D.J. Rossouw was principal from January 1948 to May 1952.  On Wednesday, 18 October 1950 the war memorial was erected in honour of Pearson old scholars who had given their lives in the 2nd World War.  Since then, Remembrance Day has been part of the Pearson calendar.

1953 to 1957 is known as the Bruwer era.  During Mr J.J. Brewer’s time, every book in the Pearson library was sent to a bookbinding firm in Bath, England, to ensure a long shelf-life for them.

Mr J.P. Wait (1958 – 1965), who took over the reins from Mr Bruwer, ensured that there was a good balance between cultural and sporting activities.  Music (the choir and musicals) flourished.

Mr Muller du Plessis (1966 – 1980) took an already successful school to greater heights.  Pearson was undeniably the leading school in Athletics.  The enrolment rose to over 800.  As there was no room for expansion in Bayview Avenue, and, as a result of 2 fires in the 1970’s, the school moved to Summerstrand in July 1976, its Golden Jubilee Year.

Mr P.R. Visser (1981 – 1985) the 7th principal of the school, had to deal with the issue of decreased pupil enrolment which was attributed to the school’s geographical position on the edge of the city.  As a result the 3 traditional houses, Brown-Clarendon, Elton-Wallis and Pearson-Donkin were changed to two houses, namely Deary House and du Plessis House.

Mr J.L.P. Heath (1986 – 1990) was instrumental in the decision taken to open Pearson’s doors to all races.  Under his leadership the groundwork and preparation was done for becoming a Model B school.  Pearson would once again be a pioneer – this time providing education for all races.

Dr J.R. Ilsley (1991 – 1992) was principal when we opened our doors, in January 1991, to pupils of all racial groups.  During this time the school quickly adjusted to being a unique microcosm of South African society – a multi-cultural, parallel-medium school for boys and girls.

Ms E.D. ffolliott (1992 – 2004) became the first female principal of a co-educational high school in the Cape Province.  This change in school leadership coincided with the transition on 1 May 1992, from the so-called Model B Pearson to the new Model C Pearson.  We continued to lead the way as a multi-cultural, parallel-medium, co-educational facility.  Under Ms ffolliott’s leadership, the Reg Anderson Room (Old Scholars’ lounge), the Rendezvous (Learners’ cafeteria), the Information Technology Centre and the Estate Manager’s cottage became reality.  She was also the driving force behind the resurrection of the Past Pupils’ Association.  Pearson once again had 3 Houses: Deary House, Du Plessis House and ffolliott House.

Mr André van Staden (2004 – 2017) took over the reins as 11th principal in March 2004, after having been the Deputy Principal since 1995.  Since then he has initiated the upgrading of all the sports facilities, and the building of a school shop, the Eve Alexander Music Auditorium and a new sports clubhouse.  With his drive and dedication, he led this institution, with its proud and long tradition, to ever-greater heights. Total enrolment reached an all-time high since the move to Summerstrand – 1050 learners!  New classrooms were created within the existing building. In 2008, the Olympic-size Water Polo Pool – the only heated such facility in Port Elizabeth – was added, as well as 6 new cricket nets. The pavilion was upgraded to include a Sports Science Institute, and an Art & Design Centre had been built.   A new netball court was added and our Astro turf (2012), the most ambitious project ever tackled by Pearson, was floodlit in 2013.  2014 saw the inauguration of our new Academic Wing – three upstairs classrooms, two downstairs Life Sciences Laboratories, a Sports Office and four extra sets of girls’ and boys’ cloakrooms.  In 2015 another new netball court, 4 HOD offices and irrigation to the 2 main rugby fields were added.  Academic Wing Two – 3 Classrooms and a State-of-the-Art Science Laboratory and IT Laboratory as well as 3 more HOD offices – and the Les Bubb Square (outside the Rendezvous), were added.  In 2016 Pearson added two new houses to the existing house system:  Deary, Duppie & ffolliott, with the new additions being Heath House and Wait House – giving us five houses in total.  Work started on the irrigation system for the Astro and the construction of the new Gym and Wellness Centre. The Pool Pavilion was also added in this year.

Mrs Hela Roux (2017 – present) has been at the helm since 2017 after having been the Deputy Principal since 2004. Under her guidance a highly professional and state-of-the-art gymnasium was built and completed in 2018. She played an integral role in ensuring that the Pearson Boutique Hostel was completed in January 2019. This led to a complete revamp of the existing school kitchen with the Reg Anderson venue being transformed into a dining hall for the hostel learners. The old gym was converted into a modern and upmarket Reg Anderson. Her intuitiveness led to the building of an Astro and Netball pavilion and a highly sophisticated irrigation system ensuring the campus is kept in pristine condition. Under her leadership, the new Music Block will begin to be built in 2021. Under her leadership, the new Music Block reached completion in 2022. 

Pearson continues to be a busy and happy school of excellence, where we strive to educate the whole person – spiritually, academically, culturally and physically.  Pearson was the first in Port Elizabeth to start the JOT (Jesus our Teacher) ministry programme.  At Pearson learners are presented with a wide variety of options and opportunities to become involved in extra-curricular activities.  A wide variety of educational programmes aims at equipping learners for a challenging future.  A healthy code of conduct inculcates good values. Pearson is the ‘the school of excellence’.

In Januarie 1926 is die “P.E Secondary School” in die ou hospitaal se gebou op Richmondhewel geopen met ’n leerdergetal van 35 leerlinge, seuns en meisies.  Die stigtershoof was mnr. Leo Deary.  In Julie 1927 het die skool verskuif na die Grey Instituut-gebou op die Donkin.  In Januarie 1928 het die naam Hoërskool Pearson ’n werklikheid geword – vernoem na die agbare raadslid, mnr. William Pearson – burgemeester van Port Elizabeth vir 16 jaar.

Afrikaans is as onderrigmedium in Suid-Afrikaanse skole erken tot en met standerd ses, maar in 1928 het 15 Port Elizabeth-leerlders verkies om hulle skoolloopbaan deur die medium van Afrikaans te deurloop.  Pearson was die enigste skool in P.E. was in staat was om dit te kan doen.  In 1938, tydens die skoolhoofskap van mnr. H. Bezemer (1938 – 1947), het die eerste Afrikaans-medium klas die Senior Sertifikaateksamen afgelê.  Pearson het op die stadium 575 leerlinge gehad.  Pearson was gedurende hierdie tyd die enigste parallel-medium hoërskool in die Oos-Kaap en Grens-gebied met klasse in beide landstale vir alle standerds.

Pearson het die grootste hoërskool in die provinsie geword.  Omdat daar nie genoeg plek vir die leerlinge was nie, is ’n nuwe skool in Bayviewlaan (nou Laerskool Erica) gebou.  Die skool het in 1941 die “groot trek” gehad.

Mnr. D.J. Rossouw was skoolhoof vanaf Januarie 1948 tot Mei 1952.  Woensdag, 18 Oktober 1950 is die oorlogsplaat opgerig ter ere van die oud-skoliere wat hulle lewe in die tweede Wêreldoorlog verloor het.  Sedertdien is Herinneringsdag deel van die Pearson-kalender.

1953 – 1957 staan bekend as die Bruwer-era.  Tydens die tydperk is elke Pearson biblioteekboek na ’n boekbinder in Bath, Engeland gestuur om die raklewe van die duur boek te verleng.

Mnr. J.P. Wait (1958 – 1965), wat by mnr. J.J. Bruwer as skoolhoof oorgeneem het, het verseker dat daar ’n balans tussen die kulturele ontwikkeling en sportontwikkeling plaasgevind het.  Musiek (koor en blyspele) het floreer.

Mnr. Muller du Plessis (1966 – 1980) het reeds die florerende skool tot verdere hoogtes gevoer.  Pearson was die onbetwiste Atletiekreus!  Die leerdertal het tot 800 gegroei.  Aangesien daar geen plek vir uitbreiding in Bayviewlaan was nie, en ook as gevolg van twee viere in 1970’s, het die skool in Julie 1976 – sy Gouejubileejaar – na Somerstrand verhuis.

Mnr. P.R. Visser (1981 – 1985), die sewende skoolhoof van die skool, moes die kwessie van dalende leerdergetalle hanteer, as gevolg van ons geografiese posisie.   Gevolglik is weggedoen met die 3 tradisionele huise – Brown-Clarendon, Elton-Wallis en Pearson-Donkin.  In hulle plek het Dearyhuis en Du Plessishuis ontstaan.

Mnr. J.L.P. Heath (1986 – 1990) het ’n vername rol gespeel in die besluit om Pearson se deure vir alle rasse oop te stel.  Die aanvoorwerk en voorbereiding om die Model-B-skool te word is deur hom gedoen.  So was Pearson weer eens die baanbreker – om onderwys aan alle rasse te bied.

Dr J.R. Ilsley (1991 – 1992) was die hoof toe ons in Januarie ons deure vir alle rassegroepe oopgestel het.  Gedurende hierdie tyd het die skool vinnig en maklik aangepas om ’n “unieke kosmos van die Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskap-” multi-kulturele, parallel-medium skool vir seuns en dogters – te word.

Me. E.D. ffolliott (1992 – 2004) word die eerste vroue-skoolhoof van ’n ko-ed skool in die Kaapprovinsie.  Hierdie verandering in die skoolleierskap het hand aan hand gegaan met die oorgang van ’n Model B na die nuwe Model C-skool.  Ons het maklik aangepas by die mikrokosmos van die huidige samelewing – ’n multikulturele, parallel-medium, ko-ed fasiliteit.  Onder me. ffolliott se leiding het die Reg Anderson-lokaal (’n oud-skoliere lokaal), die Rendezvous (die leerders-kafeteria), die Rekenaarsentrum, en die terrein-bestuurdershuis ’n werklikheid geword.  Die Oud-Skoliere Vereniging het vanweë haar dryfkrag weer na vore getree as ’n sterk entiteit.  Peason het ook weer gespog met drie huise – Dearyhuis, Du Plessishuis en ffolliotthuis.

Mnr. André van Staden (2004 – 2017) het in Maart 2004 as die 11de skoolhoof van Pearson oorgeneem nadat hy in 1995 by die skool as Onderhoof aangestel is.  Onder sy leiding is alle sportfasiliteite opgradeer, die skoolwinkel gebou, het die Eve Alexander Musiekouditorium die lig gesien en is die sportklubhuis opgerig.  Vanweë sy dryfkrag en toewyding, word Pearson met sy lang en trotse tradisie tot steeds hoër hoogtes gelei.    Ons leerdertal is ook die hoogste ooit sedert ons trek na Somerstrand. – 1050 leerders! Nuwe klaskamers is binne die skoolgebou geskep.  Ons Olimpiese-grootte Waterpolo-swembad het in 2008 die lig gesien en  ses nuwe krieketnette is aangelê. ’n Kuns- en Ontwerpsentrum is opgerig, en die opgegradeerde pawiljoen sluit nou ’n Sport-wetenskapsentrum  in.   ’n Nuwe netbalbaan is voltooi  en ons Astro (2012) – die grootste projek wat nog ooit deur die skool aangepak is, is in 2013 van sproeiligte voorsien.  In 2014 het ons die nuwe Akademiese vleuel in gebruik geneem – drie klaskamers, twee Lewenswetenskaplaboratoriums, ’n Sportkantoor en vier ekstra stelle seuns- en dogterskleedkamers.  In 2015 is nog ’n netbalbaan, 4 HOD-kantore en besproeiing op die 2 hoof-rugbyvelde aangebring.  Die nuwe Akademiese Vleuel Twee – 3 klaskamers op Vlak 1 en ’n moderne Wetenskaplaboratorium en ’n IT-laboratorium op Vlak 2, asook nog 3 HOD-kantore en die Les Bubb-plein (buite die Rendezvous) – is in 2016 in gebruik geneem.   In 2016 het Pearson twee nuwe huise by die huidige huiststelsel gevoeg:  Deary, Duppie en ffolliott met die byvoeging van Heathhuis en Waithuis wat ons dus vyf huise in totaal gee. Verder is daar begin met die aanlê van die besproeiing-sisteem van die Astro-baan, en daar is ’n begin gemaak in die bou die nuwe Gimnasium en Gesondheidsentrum.  Die swembadpaviljoen is ook in hierdie jaar voltooi.

Mev. Hela Roux (2017 – tans) staan sedert 2017 aan die stuur van sake nadat sy sedert 2004 adjunkhoof was.  Onder haar bekwame leiding is ’n toonaangewende gimnasium in 2018 gebou.  Sy het ook ’n integrale rol gespeel om te verseker dat die Pearson-Boetiekkoshuis in Januarie 2019 voltooi is.  Dit het tot ’n algehele opknapping van die bostaande skoolkombuis gelei en die Reg Andersonlokaal is in ’n eetsaal vir die koshuisleerders omskep.  Die ou gimnasium is eweneens in ’n Astro en netbal pawiljoen gebou en ’n hoogsgesofistikeerde besproeiingstelsel aangelê is wat verseker dat die kampus te alle tye in ’n uitmuntende toestand gehou word.  Onder haar leierskap sal daar in 2021 met die bou van die nuwe musiekblok begin word.

Pearson bly ’n besige en ’n gelukkige skool van uitmuntendheid.  Hier strewe ons om die persoon in sy totaliteit op te voed – geestelik, akademies, kultureel en op sportgebied.  Pearson was die eerste skool in Port Elizabeth om die JOT (Jesus our Teacher) bedieningsprogram aan te bied.  By Pearson word leerders ’n wye verskeidenheid keuses en geleenthede gebied om in ekstra-kurrikulêre aktiwiteite betrokke te raak.  ’n Wye verskeidenheid opvoedkundige programme is beskikbaar om leerders vir ’n uitdagende toekoms toe te rus.  Vanweë ’n gesonde gedragskode word waardes by ons leerders ingeskerp.  Pearson is ‘die skool van uitnemendheid’.