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School Governance and upcoming SGB Elections: please share your stories!

How can Business Partners contribute to the School's Governing Body?

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How can Business Partners contribute to the School's Governing Body?

2020/11/22 8:17 PM SAST

Dear PfP Community,

The SGB's ability to support and complement the efforts of school management, can make a big difference in the life of a school. This is a specific invitation for you to share how, in your experience, business partners have been able to contribute to the well-functioning of the school's SGB.

Business Partners who have been co-opted to the SGB, please share your experience! We are also keen to hear stories of partners who have organised training and skills-building sessions for SGBs, and what difference it has made to the school.

The space is yours!

(1 out of 1 person found this post useful.)

1. 2020/11/30 5:04 PM SAST

We share below the story of Principal Juan Julius and his partner Alice Kramer, of Hout Bay High school in the Cape. Much appreciation to them for giving consent to share their story!

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Business Partner 'involvement in the School Governing Body of Hout Bay High (HBH)

As a no-fee school, HBH has to manage its finances very carefully to cover all school expenses from its Education Department subsidy and raise additional funds for any expenses that are not strictly covered by the Department. However, as is often the case in under-resourced government schools, the SMT and School Governing Body (SGB) had not been equipped with the skills required to manage the school’s finances adequately and decisions impacting the school’s finances were often taken with inadequate consideration and visibility on affordability.

The principal of HBH, Juan Julius, joined PfP in 2014 and was partnered with Alice Kramer from Woolworths Financial Services. Early in the partnership Alice began to provide advice and practical support with financial management. This included hands-on support and training for the school’s bursar. Juan believed that the school would benefit greatly from Alice’s ongoing support and involvement with financial management and invited her to join the SGB. Alice accepted the invitation and, since she is not a parent at the school, she exercised a legal dispensation which allowed her to be co-opted onto the SGB as a non-voting member. One of her first contributions to the SGB was to create a simple excel spreadsheet that enables SGB members to keep track of the school’s financial situation at any point in time, and to take decisions with greater confidence that they are in line with the school’s budget.

Even though Alice considers that this contribution was not major, Chris Albertyn, Chairman of the HBH SGB, confirms that the SGB members have greatly appreciated the value that Alice has brought to the body’s decision-making processes.

Six years after beginning her partnership with Hout Bay High, Alice is still involved and contributing to the SGB in various ways. As such, she continues to play a proactive governance role at the school.

2. 2020/12/10 10:00 AM SAST

From a perspective of advising schools on governance and management matters, the P4P process has two great benefits.

  1. The school leadership - School Governing body and School Management Team has access to business thinking and this allows a balance between pure educational matters and business matters. This blend is vital for the future of public education as the state cannot support the comlete delivery of quality education alone.
  2. The "business partner" grows and learns how schools operate and function, and can thus add genuine wisdom and thought into the development of a quality education system .
3. 2020/12/14 2:31 PM SAST (edited)

Wespoort Primary services area of Portland, Mitchell's Plain but has a large contingent of learners from Khayelitsha, Philippi and Lost City. The school has always been aware of the decline in social values. The school has an ethos of engaging proactively with various NGOs offering a variety of workshops. These organisations include, SANCA, NICRO, Childline and various anti-drug organizations. Over the years, the partnership with these organisations and other like the Walking Bus, Read to Learn, cadet programme, Chosen Youth and other social development partners have become more important us.

Parental interest in learner's school work are varied - some are very involved and others show no interest in learner's work, most do not all attend meetings. Fundraising; there is parental involvement, but they have to be constantly reminded of their commitment to the School and it puts a drain on the school's finances if school fees are not paid and events supported.

In 2018, the Principal, Rodney Hendricks joined up with Partners for Possibility. He has always advocated self-development and self-enrichment and has accessed courses such as those presented by the Principal’s Academy too. In the Partners for Possibility programme he met George Whitehead, a retired CA who not only offered his expertise gained from many years in the financial sector, but who also wanted to learn how a school is run. His involvement is such that he has been co-opted onto the School Governing Body and the Finance Committee as he wanted to play a bigger role in the school’s affairs and in the process also become self-enriched. George is invaluable to our school. We have had a few financial issues over the years, including an auditor who did not give us the full picture of the financial situation of the school. George has assisted in identifying our financial administration needs as we have in the last few months, as an SGB, decided to let our auditor go. We are in the process of seeking a suitable person to become the school’s financial advisor and together with George, strive for excellence in our finances department.

By co-opting members of civil society for their particular skills to the SGB, the school benefits from this expertise. Decisions which are taken in the best interest of the learners at the school thus has input from persons who are professionals or experienced where SGB skills may lack or need to be enhanced. George Whitehead plays this role very well. We are very blessed to have such a person who is connected with our school and are proud of our association with him.

I thus implore of each SGB to co-opt members to enrich the governance of the school. It can only add value to your deliberations. Identify those people that you want to co-opt early, whether it be a parent or professional. Invite them for an "office talk", tell them why you wish to have them as a co-opted member, be proactive. I can guarantee that SGB will flourish and be enriched with people such as my partner George Whitehead. Try it, it may be the best management decision you have made in a long time.

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