Evaluation of Symphonia for South Africa’s (SSA) Partners for Possibility (PfP) project
To respond to the well-documented crisis facing South Africa’s education system, in 2010, SSA launched a twelve-month process in schools in which principals are partnered with business partners who have already gained impeccable leadership skills and experience in their role as business leaders and captains of industry. This is known as Partners for Possibility. Through a tailored 12-month leadership development process, these principals are equipped with the confidence, skills and competence to become leaders who can change their schools for the better. Partners (principals and business leaders) are expected to work together (for between 3-5 hours per month) to stimulate change at four levels: the principal (to become confident and energised to lead); the SMT (to become an aligned and cohesive team); the community of teachers (to become energised and ready); and the parents and wider community (to become engaged). Various other activities, such as workshops on consultation and community building, and participation in regular “communities of practice” with partnerships from other local schools, strengthen the partnership and the lessons around leadership over the course of the year. The main outcome of this collaboration is to promote the active involvement of the community in the schools, and to assist both principal and business leader to receive full value out of participating in this Leadership Development Programme.
In late 2015, SSA approached Dr Andrew Hartnack to provide a rigorous independent evaluation of the PfP programme, with the aim of documenting its successes, dynamics and areas of possible improvement, and facilitate a learning opportunity to better understand how school leadership can improve school functioning. This evaluation will not only assist SSA and the PfP project, but will be shared widely with relevant stakeholders to benefit the broader education sector.
Twenty schools where the project has been implemented will be included in the evaluation, which runs in the first half of 2016. Anthony Muteti, himself an experienced educator, is a core member of the research team from SLF. Funding for this work has been provided by the DG Murray Trust.