School @ the Centre of Community

CPT12 celebrates the successful end of its first year

{jcomments on}After 12 months of immersion in the Partners for Possibility leadership programme, 10 school principals and 10 business partners gathered at the start of November in Bellville, Cape Town to celebrate the end of their formal development programme and reaffirm their commitment to improving education outcomes and well-being in their partnership schools.

{jcomments off}These partners represent the twelfth Leadership Circle in Cape Town (CPT12), and this month celebrated significant improvements at all of the participating schools.  Each participating principal is partnered with a business leader and the entire group form a leadership circle that meet regularly to share ideas, feedback and contacts, working to support the development initiatives that focus on improvement in each of the participating schools. 

Says Francois Adriaan, Head: Corporate Affairs of PfP sponsor Sanlam and speaker at the celebration event: “I am struck by the incredible positivity of all the stories, especially in what sounded like some pretty dire circumstances. I was equally humbled by the relationships which had been built up over a very short period of time between two people who clearly care very deeply about the circumstance of others and who have a commitment to a very strong and clear higher purpose.”

One of the partnerships described the programme as a “fantastic combination of formal training, structured project management, peer group learning and skills transfer that leaves me in awe of what is really possible in schools and in education when we collaborate effectively.”

The year passes very quickly and amid relationship building and infrastructural enhancements, the leadership capacity of both partners is challenged, rewarded and transformed into collaborative action that focuses teachers, pupils and their immediate community around critical issues facing their school.

Nothing is achieved or activated without significant effort placed on relationship building and understanding social and political dynamics within each school. The Principals are the experts in this area and the Business Partners echo their admiration for the consistent and often thankless efforts of all those involved in running and keeping the school together. It is nothing short of inspirational to spend time with the Principal and their supporting teams.

Partners from all the schools shared inspiring stories of improvement, shifts in staff and pupil attitude and community support experienced at the participating schools. Apart from improving the safety and security at a number of the schools, improvements in overall management and wellbeing of the schools in general was recognised.

Although immediate improvement in academic results generally reflect after 2-3 years, a number of schools pointed to shifts in results based on positive affirmations of process by staff.  The introduction of literacy and numeracy support programmes are influencing grade outcomes.

At Sosebenza Primary in Khayelitsha, school principal Vusumzi Soyeye and his partner, Charite Volkwyn are excited about the success of the “Reading Eggs” programme that has been activated for Grade R’s and will support the transition from Xhosa to English required at higher grades.  A jump in Grade 7 numeracy has been sited with a shift from 40% to 70% at Du Noon Primary after school principal Bongani Macikama and business leader Andries Breytenbach began work with their literacy programme and support of teachers has affected Grade 7 literacy figures that jumped by 20% to 68% at the same school over the past year.

Partners for Possibility programme activates “thinking and action partnerships” as a way of enabling business leaders and school principals. They participate in world-class leadership training accredited by the University of the Western Cape and together learn to apply both their combined experiences and new learning to the problems facing the principal’s school. The broader community of partners share ideas in regular open dialogue and planning sessions and are further supported with 1-1 and triad coaching that recognises the unique conditions of each partnership.

Designed to adapt to the specific problems faced by the participating school, the PfP programme trains and supports principals of resource constrained schools who often get assigned to their position without any formal training or preparation. The principal receives help in the form of training and support from his or her business partner.

“Our feedback shows that business partners often learn more than they expect and sometimes even more than the school principal. While they may sign on to the programme to support education, they soon see their own leadership skills sharpened as they find themselves in the complex school environment where they do not have direct influence,” says CEO, Louise Van Rhyn.

To date Partners for Possibility has supported the creation of 373 such partnerships, reaching across the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Limpopo province. PfP will also launch the first leadership circle in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga early in 2016.

“Although the formal programme supports the partnerships for a 12-month period the relationships formed and the significance of the work completed open up the possibility of ongoing development at the school. The design of the programme invites self-generating processes and self-sustaining systems that enable partnership to continue working together,” says Nicky Wilson-Harris, an accredited coach and leadership process facilitator that has supported the various partnerships over the past year.

“All the partnerships in this leadership circle have committed to specific 3-5 year plans and intend to continue working together. This informal, longer term relationship is the real indicator of success, one which will further ensure that all of this year’s activation, of literacy programmes and teacher development, transition children with greater ease from Grade R through to high school and beyond. It really is very exciting to be a part of.”

None of this would be possible without the contribution of those that make the work of this Leadership Circle possible, including Business COM Trading AG, Engen, Nimble Group, NMC, Sanlam, Vantage Capital and Windlab.  Also huge appreciation to all the decision makers who made this all possible: Francois Adriaan and Adele Latchman (Sanlam), Tasneem Sulaiman-Bray and Lungile Dumse (Engen) and Chris Lister-James (Vantage Capital). Thank you also to Irené Raubenheimer for enticing his Swiss customer to sponsor another partnership inside the Du Noon Community.




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