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A Meeting of Minds: Winelands Schools and Businesses Collaborate to Create #TheFutureWeWant

In March of this year, Llowellyn Syce, principal of Breedevallei School of Skills (SoS), hosted a community gathering with the principals of eight neighbouring schools and members of the agricultural business community in the Winelands region. Such gatherings – known as Community of Practice or CoP meetings – form a key component of the globally recognised leadership development programme, Partners for Possibility.

Developed by Citizen Leader Lab, Partners for Possibility is an award-winning 12-month programme that pairs principals from schools in under-resourced communities with business leaders from the business sector. Principals receive the support and skills to lead change and mobilise communities around their schools, and business leaders develop new leadership skills through exposure to the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world of the South African public school. All nine Winelands principals who attended the Community of Practice at Breedevallei were accompanied by their business leader partners, all of whom are currently participants on the Partners for Possibility programme. They spent the afternoon grappling with the issues facing the youth of their area and exploring opportunities and possibilities.

As part of the social learning aspect of the programme,  CoP meetings are held every 6 weeks during the year of the programme. It is here that principals and their business leader partner – along with other interested community role players – are able to share concerns and ideas and discuss possible solutions to collectively fulfil the goals of individual schools, as well as the broader community’s goals.

The eight school principals and their business leader partners were taken on a tour of Breedevallei SoS to better understand the school’s unique achievements and challenges. The school is located in the Slanghoek Valley, an area known for its vast wine farms which make up its core income stream. The Valley and its residents, however, face the ongoing challenges of unemployment, substance abuse, dysfunctional family life and the slow transformation and diversification of the local economy.

In this context, Breedevallei SoS has become a sanctuary for the area’s youth, offering academic and practical learning opportunities such as Hospitality, Woodwork, Early Childhood Development, Agriculture, Maintenance and Metal and Welding. Breedevallei also takes great pride in its sporting activities, even fielding a cycling team that took part in the 2023 Cape Town Cycle Tour.

According to Jessica Batts, the Learning Process Facilitator* who oversees Partners for Possibility partnerships in the Winelands region and the coordinator of the CoP, the meeting was fruitful, with plenty of ideas on how to invest in the region’s youth put forward.

‘’Our aim was to establish better relationships with the region’s agricultural business community so that the learners who finish school at the end of 2023 are able to find jobs at these businesses. This will help them regain a sense of self-worth, economic independence, and dignity.

Principal Llowellyn also wanted to begin to change the community’s perception of Breedevallei from a school that educates delinquent, difficult children who never amount to anything, to a school producing tomorrow’s workforce.

Ultimately, we all have a desire to place schools at the centre of this community. Schools must become the convenors of sustainable change,’’ said Batts.

*LPF: An accredited coach who facilitates and guides partnerships on the Partners for Possibility programme

For more information on how you can create #TheFutureWeWant with Citizen Leader Lab, email