School Leaders for Excellence (SL4E)
- To raise the quality of schooling in the Insikazi Circuit in Mpumalanga
- To support and strengthen the Insikazi Circuit Office
- To link and utilise the findings from existing Uplands Outreach programmes in Insikazi with SL4E, to maximise overall impact
- To provide accredited training in the form of the ACE School Management and Leadership qualification through UJ.
- To supplement the ACE with Outreach's unique training in computer literacy, data analysis, teamwork, site visits, and performance tracking
- To build a vibrant Professional Learning Community (PLC) of school leaders and managers.
During the first year of the School Leaders for Excellence programme (2014), the following highlights were achieved:
- Carefully and thoughtfully selected the cohort of 25 school leaders, in consultation with the Circuit Manager.
- Rigorously inducted these 25 participants, ensuring that everyone is on board with a clear understanding of the programme and its goals.
- Achieved a 87.5% attendance rate for the contact sessions in 2014, which is notable (given that other distance Advanced Certificate in Education programmes often fizzle out).
- Successfully implemented a Monthly Journal system, where each participant reflects on three activities: what they learned during the UJ contact session, what they have implemented in their schools, and general news about their lives. Journal achievement marks average over 85%.
- Worked with an independent assessor, Mrs Pat Brink (former Headmistress of Kingsmead), to conduct six comprehensive school visits.
- Continued with another four comprehensive school visits, to establish a baseline of school performance. Sixteen of seventeen schools were visited informally on numerous occasions.
- Developed an internal school monitoring tool based on Tshikululu/AACF's indicator checklist.
- Conducted six separate computer literacy sessions for participants struggling with IT skills.
- Worked closely with the University of Johannesburg lecturers to ensure high academic standards for UJ assignments and project portfolio plans - resulting in superb UJ feedback about the cohort - refer letter attached.
- Developed a nascent Professional Learning Community of 25 school leaders, who often stay later than the UJ contact sessions to discuss common issues, and support each other.
- Four participants have already been promoted.
- Strengthened the functioning of the Insikazi Circuit office through the Circuit Manager's inclusion in the programme, through classroom participation with his colleagues, and by sharing the journal feedback of the 25 participants.
- Established a SL4E Steering Committee where programme matters were discussed and debated - and course adjustments were made democratically and with ownership.
- The support received (by the participants) from Uplands Outreach and UJ teams worked as a source of inspiration to the schools leaders, and kept them going despite all the challenges they are facing in their daily lives.