The University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB), in partnership with Capitec Bank Limited and The Principal’s Trust, has taken a landmark step in combating shortcomings in the South African school system, by offering an Executive Education programme designed for school leaders.
Using strategies modeled on the GSB’s world-class adult teaching and learning techniques, the inaugural Executive Management Programme for School Leaders started in December 2012, with 24 principals from a diverse range of schools taking part.
Linda Buckley, director of Executive Education at the GSB, said: “We are hugely excited at the interest we have received in this initiative which is the result of three-way collaboration between the GSB, Capitec Bank, and The Principal’s Trust.”
The modular, 18-month programme is designed to bolster the skills of school leaders, and cause a positive ripple effect that will change the lives of not only the teaching staff and learners at their school, but the parent body, the governing body and the surrounding community.
It is based on the premise that good leadership will create good schools.
Rick Haw, co-founder and former CEO of Haw & Inglis and founder of the Principal’s Trust, said:“There are many examples of schools being very successful, even with poor facilities and infrastructure, because of the inspiring managerial and leadership qualities of the school principal.”
For Haw, the programme is the culmination of a long journey. He started the Principal’s Trust because of a conviction that to create more employable South Africans you need first to fix the school system and to fix the schools you need to invest in school leaders.
Sbusiso Kumalo, Head of Corporate Affairs at Capitec Bank, said: “At Capitec Bank we’ve invested in educational programmes which seek to increase learner throughput to tertiary studies and in so doing, access to formal employment.
“School leadership and management make a crucial difference in learner performance at schools and so we’ve proudly partnered with the GSB to deliver the Executive Leadership Programme for School Leaders.”
The Principal’s programme is modular and will run during school holidays so that principals are not kept away from school. The first module covers personal mastery and managing complexity; the second focuses on business acumen and includes topics on finance, technology, data management and the educational regulatory environment. The third is about managing people, teams and change, and includes topics on negotiation, mediation and developing staff.
The final module is for the presentation of the principals’ technical reports and action learning projects. Principals will be charged with designing a ‘relevant African school for the 21st century’.
Principals are expected to undertake at least one community project between each module and to attend school and community sessions on a rotational basis, which will involve visits to the schools of their course colleagues and discussions about their policies and practices.
The partners hope that the programme will go some way to creating centres of excellence for learning and help to turn schools into happy and sought after places of learning respected by the staff and the learners and the surrounding community and the country by creating more skilled matriculants who are ready and able to go on to make a positive contribution to the economy.
“Our vision is to create an aspirational offering that is able to define and create sustainable change in the lives of everyone involved – and of course beyond - as the life of a leader touches and influences so many,” said Buckley.
“We will broaden our student base from the second cohort onward and hope to tap into a national audience by year three.”