Our goal is to impact the overall teaching ecosystem and subsequently the academic outcomes of the schools where we have a presence.
South Africa spends more on education than any other country in Africa. Yet our schools are failing us. Many people believe that donating resources such as libraries and computers are enough to make a difference. Or that building new classrooms and repairing structures guarantee a better performing school. These endeavours are noble and they help, but we’ve seen that they are not enough.
To really change a school for the better, you have to aim for the heart of it: its people. Specifically its leaders. So we start at the top. Because excellent principals lead to excellent schools and excellent schools lead to exceptional individuals. A simple, but powerful trickle-down effect.
So, quite simply, the Principals Academy Trust empowers principals who head up schools in marginalised communities with all the tools they need to create conducive learning environments that promote continuous improvement. To strengthen the impact achieved by targeting the principal, we also assist from ground-level up by providing classroom support. In this way we can make a positive impact on the quality of schooling in South Africa.
The Principals Academy Trust (PAT) was founded in October 2012 in collaboration with the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. The founders were keen to contribute to the development of effective education leadership and management in the public education system. They collaborated with UCTs Graduate School of Business to develop an executive management development programme targeting education managers in this school system.
The three founding members understood and believed that improving the management and leadership skills of principals in dysfunctional schools who were serving marginalised communities, together with improving the quality of teaching, would be the most critical factors in improving learners’ performance.
The first cohort of principals registered for the UCT GSB course in 2013, receiving mentoring from the retired principals in order to apply the strategies they were learning during the course. In 2023 PAT has 18 retired principals who act as coaches for 94 principals. Over 300 000 pupils attend the 265 schools that have formed part of the programme since its inception.
WHAT WE DO
The programme consists of three components:
1. Academic support
Each year 20 to 25 principals are selected to complete the Principals Management Development Programme (PMDP) offered at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. This part-time short course programme allows the principals to complete the training while applying the principles learnt to real problems in their specific schools. It runs during school holidays from April to December each year. Principals are evaluated on an ongoing basis through course-work assignments and elements such as weekly reflections, critical incident logs, know-yourself workbooks, ethics workbooks, a financial assignment etc. Participants receive a certificate once the short course programme is completed.
Eighteen retired school principals — with a track record of success as heads of high-performing schools – offer individual support to the principals in the programme. Principals are coached for a minimum of three years.
3. Teacher support
Teachers are assisted through an after-school teacher-support programme with a focus on mathematics and English. Foundation Phase (FP) classroom support is also offered by a team of nineteen retired Foundation Phase teachers.
WHERE WE CURRENTLY WORK
The Academy has achieved success and offered valuable support to schools in the Western Cape since 2012. These schools are in the following areas:
Athlone, Bellville, Blackheath, Bonteheuwel, Bothasig, Botrivier, Bredasdorp, Caledon, Claremont, Cape Town, Crawford, Delft, Driftsand, Eerste Rivier, Franschhoek, Gansbaai, Genadendal, Grabouw/Elgin, Grassy Park, Gugulethu, Hermanus, Hout Bay, Kenilworth, Kenwyn, Khayelitsha, Koue Bokkeveld, Kraaifontein, Kuilsriver, Langa, Lavender Hill, Lotus River, Lower Crossroads, Macassar, Maitland, Manenberg, Masiphumelele, Melkhoutfontein, Mfuleni, Mitchell’s Plain, Muizenberg, Napier, Newlands, Nyanga, Paarl, Parow, Philippi, Plumstead, Prince Alfred’s Hamlet, Retreat, Riversdale, Seawinds, Simon’s Town, Steenberg, Stellenbosch, Stanford, Sun Valley, Swellendam, Vredenburg, Vrijzee, Wellington, Westlake, Witzenberg, Woodlands, and Wynberg.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
We are always on the lookout for new ways of tracking and monitoring the impact of the work that we do. Ultimately our core mission is to empower school leadership in order to improve the education outcomes of all the schools where we operate. To know whether we are achieving this goal, we strive to find effective monitoring and evaluation tools.
We have developed our own index, the PAT Performance Index (PATPI), a tool based on one developed by the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) for their research purposes. The NEEDU basket score had one shortcoming in terms of the needs of PAT. It relies solely on the results of learners in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination and, therefore cannot be used as a measure of performance in Primary schools. Fortunately, the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) systemic tests provide schools with another set of valid and reliable learner performance data at Grades 3, 6 and 9 level and we’ve used this data, together with the NSC data for high schools to calculate the PATPI score each year for all of the schools that form part of our programme. We will also be developing a tool to use, the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), to track the growth and development of the reading and comprehension skills of individual learners.
To find out more about these monitoring tools, please read more on the links above.
MEET THE TEAM
The mentor/coaching team is headed up by Bruce Probyn who has 26 years experience as headmaster in running both public and independent schools as centres of excellence. PAT school principals are visited once a fortnight for a minimum of an hour, on a one-on-one basis. Emphasis is placed on mentoring for change. The focus is on fostering leaders who:
- develop a sense of confidence in the principles of good education, which enable them to lead effectively.
- put teaching and learning first and who have the ability to rally the entire school community around this goal.
- will drive change where this is needed; will address shortcomings and therefore ensure that quality teaching and learning become the school’s number one priority.
- will have the courage to focus on the needs of all children.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND MENTOR
Qualifications: BA (UCT), Secondary Teachers’ Diploma (UCT), MEd (University of Exeter)
Taught: Latin, English and History at Wynberg Boys’ High School and Plumstead High School.
Principal: Wynberg Boys’ High School (1999 – 2015), Springfield Convent (2019)
Keith has wanted to be a teacher ever since his days at Bishops Prep School. While he acknowledges the importance of academic results, he maintains that these are of little use unless learners are given the opportunities to develop as human beings as well. During his seventeen year tenure as a principal, he has stressed the importance of relationships in building up a school community – with educators, parents and learners all fulfilling their respective roles. He also acknowledges the importance for South African society for schools to produce leaders who will one day strive to make a difference in whatever sphere of life they choose to involve themselves.
Qualifications: University of Cape Town – Bachelor of Science, Secondary Teachers Diploma, Bachelor of Education
Teaching Experience: Biology Teacher at Union High School, Plumstead High School, Fish Hoek High School (HOD and Deputy Headmaster), SACS(Deputy Headmaster)
Principal: Sea Point High School, Wynberg Boys High School, Diocesan School for Girls, Herschel Girls School
Known for his charismatic and empathetic leadership style, and often classed as a legend by the schools that have had the privilege of being under his leadership, He is a Trustee of the Principals Academy Trust, on the Board for Western Province Preparatory School and a Member of the Rondebosch Boys Schools Educational Trust.
Qualifications: MA in Contemporary History (UFS) with a 1984 thesis, ‘The Emergence and Impact of Dr F van Zyl Slabbert in SA Opposition Politics, 1974-1981’. HPTC (Bloemfontein Teachers College)
Having taught in a full spectrum of Free State schools, Paul was the first ‘gentleman headmistress’ of Eunice Girls High School in Bloemfontein. The longest-serving Eunice principal (1987 – 2014), Paul, was credited with creating a climate for teachers and learners to excel. He had a reputation for always greeting all girls by name.
Paul was a founder member and executive member of the SA Girls Schools Association and the African Schools Coach in Microsoft’s Global Partners in Learning Initiative.
Upon retirement, he was given a two-year contract to train principals and deputies in the Free State Province.
He is the current Chairperson of the local Education Minister’s Advisory Council and the author of PAT’s fortnightly letter to principals entitled Keeping in Touch in Tough Times.
Qualifications: UCT – Bachelor of Science, Secondary Teachers Diploma, Bachelor of Education.
Taught: Biology/Natural Sciences, Physical Sciences, Mathematics
Principal: Queens Park High School &
Westerford High School
Alan is a highly respected education specialist who has enormous experience in education policy and school management practices. He was a founder member of the South African Principals’ Association (SAPA) and served as General Secretary for the association for a number of years. He has written two books, The Handbook of School Management (2007) and The Handbook for School Governors (2009). He founded School Management & Leadership, a journal which aimed to support the professional needs of principals and others who occupy leadership positions in South African schools. His analytical mind and in-depth knowledge of South African schooling systems plays not only a vital role in coaching and mentoring, but also evaluation, interventions and workshops.
Qualifications: PTC, PTD – Hewat, BA, B.Ed(Honours) – UWC
Taught: Ceres Secondary School
Principal: Ceres Secondary School
Retired in 2016, after 40 years in teaching, of which 26 years were dedicated to being the principal of Ceres Secondary School. Ronald served on both the Cape Winelands Principals’ Forum and Provincial Principals’ Forum, respectively as chairman and vice-chairman. He currently coaches/mentors various school in the Witzenberg Municipal District as part of the Principals Academy programme.
ANNE VAN ZYL
Qualifications: University of Cape Town: BA, UNISA: UED and BEd (Educational Management), University of Paris: Diploma teaching French to Foreigners.
Career: Personal Assistant to Military Attache, South African Embassy, Paris and to Vice President of CSIR Pretoria, teacher of French and English at Loreto Convent and Pretoria High School for Girls.
Principal for a total of 26 Years at Pretoria High School for Girls , St Stithians Girls Prep and College, Stanford Lake College, Bridge House School and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
Anne’s involvement in school leadership has focused on strategic planning, global citizenship and curriculum development and staff development. Anne has organised and spoken at local and international conferences on the importance of women at all levels and the role of servant leaders in building South Africa. She is an Honorary Member of Round Square, an international organisation focusing on student participation in leadership, environmental awareness, adventure, service and democracy.
Anne continues her interest in the Good Work Foundation based in Mpumalanga, an organisation developing digital hubs and working with rural primary schools, training young unemployed adults as facilitators. She is also on the Board of Releve Ballet Projects of SA., an NGO working in local townships. Anne is currently coaching/mentoring principals on the Principals Academy programme.
Qualifications: Stellenbosch University: Primary Teacher’s Diploma, Higher Diploma in Education, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education.
Taught: Boston Primary School, Durbanville Primary School
Principal: Golden Grove Primary School (4 years), Kirstenhof Primary School (18 years)
Actively involved as an Executive Committee member of the South African Principals Association for many years. Clive has a passion for enabling staff to develop their leadership competencies. He has a supportive and compassionate leadership style and enjoys humour. Clive is currently coaching/mentoring schools on the Principals Academy programme.
Qualifications: Rhodes University: Bachelor of Arts, UED, Bachelor of Education.
Taught: St Aidan’s College, Dale College, St Andrews Prep, Kingswood Junior, Bishops Prep, Christel House Junior
Principal: Kingswood Junior, Bishops Preparatory, Christel House
Midge has wide experience in dealing with schools at different socio-economic levels, and the experience that he brings to the Principals Academy in working with children from extremely poor and marginalised backgrounds is hugely valuable. Midge has published two books, Ka-ching Traders and Ka-ching Business Parenting. His calm, calculating manner, relaxed style and vast experience makes him a useful asset to the Principals Academy team and much appreciated by the principals he mentors.
Qualifications: PTD 111 Teacher Training qualification; UNISA – Bachelor of Arts; UCT – Bachelor of Education (management and leadership)
Taught: William Pescod High School, Heathfield High School (Geography, Economics and Business Economics)
Principal: Heathfield High, A Z Berman High School, Portland High, and Kleinberg Primary School
Retired as principal of Heathfield High school in 2010 after 34 years at the school, 18 thereof as principal. During that period Derrick served as a circuit manager for 2 years. Two years into retirement he was requested to manage the establishment of A Z Berman High School in Mitchell’s Plain for 3 years. Thereafter Derrick served as caretaker principal at Portland High followed by Kleinberg Primary School. At present Derrick has various schools which he interacts with as mentor/coach within the Principals Academy Trust and has worked within the IQAA doing verification of Independent Schools self-assessment applying the SIAM (School in a Mirror) tool.
Qualifications: PTD III (Phys Ed) Bellville Teacher Training College), BA (Eng and Psychology), BA: Hons (Psych), MEd (Education Policy Development)- UWC
Principal: Goeie Hoop Primary School (1999-2008)
Circuit Manager: Metro North Education District (2008-2021)
Having taught the full spectrum in High and Primary schools, Greg has a total of 39 years of teaching experience of which 32 years have been in school management.
Greg has a passion for in-service training and development having been involved with the School Management and Leadership Development (SMLD) courses from its inception at WCED- CTLI. Greg was involved in the SMLD Curriculum development and facilitator of modules to Departmental Heads, Deputies, Principals and aspiring school leaders.
Greg has a strong belief in teacher empowerment and development. He devised, coordinated and facilitated Induction courses for all Metro North’s newly qualified and appointed teachers, as well as coordinated Mentoring and Coaching short courses for SMT members in collaboration with Stellenbosch University School of Public Leadership (SPL)
Greg continues to facilitate modules at CTLI: SMLD courses.
Qualifications: UCT: BA Hons, Secondary Teacher’s Diploma, B Ed
Taught: Livingstone High School, Camps Bay High School, Kings Academy, Madaba, Jordan, La Cotte International School Primary, Aubonne, Switzerland
Principal: St Cyprian’s School
Former Head of St Cyprian’s School (1990-2007) and former Weinberg Chair in Peace and Prosperity King’s Academy, Madaba, Jordan. Currently working with the Principals Academy Trust as a principal coach/mentor. Also working with teachers on a weekly basis: supporting and mentoring Foundation and Intermediate Phase English teachers in a Teacher Support Programme (TSP).
Qualifications: PTC Hewat Training College, BA (UNISA), B.Ed. (Univ. of Stellenbosch – Educational Management & Educational Psychology)
Taught: Wishof Primary School (PL1 Teacher – 7 years, HOD – 3 years
Principal: Wishof Primary School Deputy Principal (1 year); De Heide Primary School Deputy Principal (9 years); De Heide Primary School (15 years)
Acting-Principal: Emil Weder SS (2017)
IMG/Circuit – Manager (WCED): Ceres Area (1 year)
IMG/Circuit – Manager (WCED): Overberg (4 years)
Estienne believes in leading by example. His outstanding management skills won him the award for Excellence In Primary School Leadership for the Overberg/Winelands District.
This was during the implementation years of the National Teachers Awards Scheme of the Department of Basic Education.
He is proud to have been part of the Overberg District Team that was instrumental in the preparation, mentoring and motivating matric learners between the years of 2012 and 2015. These matric learners from the Overberg District made it into the top 5 districts in the country every year. One of these years this District was the top district in the country.
Estienne is currently coaching/mentoring schools on the Principals Academy programme.
Qualifications: BA, HDE, BED (UFH ,1989), Certificates: ACE (UWC), Special Education (University of Oslo) 1994
Taught: High school teacher (Desmond Mpilo Tutu High( 1990 – 1992)
Principal: Siyazakha Primary School.(1988 – 2020)
Most of Nomsa’s teaching experience of 20 years, has been on management level, HOD, Deputy principal and principal.
In 2006, Nomsa was part of a delegation to Tanzania to see how other underdeveloped countries cope with their systems of education. This empowered her in aspects of strategic management, institutional transformation and design. She is versatile, adaptable and energetic.
Qualifications: B Sc (UWC), B Ed (Unisa), M Ed (UC Berkley), D Ed (UPE)
Career: Frank taught Biology and Mathematics and served as principal at David Livingstone High School in PE (1982 – 1996). He joined the Eastern Cape Department Of Education (DOE) in 1996 where he served in various capacities including High School Planner, Curriculum Specialist, Teacher Development coordinator and GET Curriculum Director until his retirement in 2010. He worked as consultant for General Motors SA (2012-2017) on their Leadership and Management support project and for the ECDOE in their School Development Support Project (2018). During this time, he mentored several school principals in Port Elizabeth.
Frank brings with him, rich and valuable experiences in working with learners, teachers, principals and SMTs from marginalised backgrounds. He has also worked in Teacher Support programmes in the USA and Malawi. His calm, supportive and positive approach to dealing with school management issues has always been highly valued by those he worked with.
Qualifications: B.A., H.D.E., B.Ed. (all University of Cape Town), Further Diploma in Educational Management (Henley), ISASA/Wits University Leadership Development Programme (LDP)
Taught: Teacher of English and French at Rondebosch Boys’ High (1978-1996), Educational Consultant (Nasou-Via Afrika publishers 1996 – 1998), English teacher at Pinelands High School, 2001-2002.
Principal: Head of Abbott’s College, Milnerton (1999-2001) Head of Redhill High, (Johannesburg, 2003- 2009,) Head of Bridge House School (Franschhoek, 2010 -2019)
While Mike’s principalships have been in the independent schools’ sector, his career has kept him well in touch with the wider educational community. His consultancy work at Nasou-Via Afrika saw him facilitate workshops in the widest spectrum of schools and provincial departments across South Africa, and his involvement with the NAPTOSA Professional Growth (“Progro”) programme since 1995, has seen him in regular contact with educators as a workshop facilitator and presenter. Mike is known for two main things: his emphasis on relationships as being the core of all successful educational interaction, and the encouragement of innovation, relevance and improvement in schools and systems.
His own leadership style has been consultative, offering multiple opportunities for staff (and students) to grow and involve themselves significantly in the running of a school. He is known for his easy style, quick sense of humour, patience and keeping children at the centre of what it is we all do. In retirement, besides Principals’ Academy work, he is an IQAA mentor and has helped schools in their strategic planning, as well as presenting on mentoring programmes, effective leadership and collaborative learning. He facilitates a regular Zoom webinar on the ZA Learning Collaborative platform (ZALC), and is producing a series of blogs intermittently. “A Matter of Principal”, his memoirs, are nearing completion. Mike is married to Liz. They have two adult daughters and two grandchildren, living in New Zealand.
Qualifications: BA Hons (Psychology); HED; DSE(RE); Life Coaching Diploma
Teaching Experience: Highlands North Boys High School; Rivonia Primary School; Redhill Preparatory School; Dainfern College.
Leadership/ Management Experience:
HOD – Rivonia Primary School; Deputy Principal – Redhill Preparatory School;
Principal – Dainfern College Preparatory School; Principal – Dainfern College High School.
Executive Head Dainfern College (Grades 00 -12). Executive Head – St Cyprian’s School (Grades 000-12)
Sue has a wide range of educational and leadership experience across different types of schools – primary and high schools, boarding schools and day schools, monastic and co-educational schools, public and private schools. In a career spanning more than 40 years, in which she was a Principal and Executive Head for 21 years, Sue has had many opportunities that have shaped and inspired her to remain involved in education post-retirement. Sue introduced Lego Coding and Robotics at Dainfern Preparatory School in the early 2000’s and spearheaded IT integration in learning at St Cyprian’s School through the Global Microsoft in Learning Initiative in South Africa – a programme that encouraged project-based, digital learning to facilitate the growth of 21st century skills.
Sue served as the education specialist on the School Boards of Somerset House Preparatory School and Roedean School for Girls. In addition, she was the South-West Region Representative on the SAHISA Board and the African Trustee of the global Round Square Board. She is an Honorary member of both organisations.
Sue has worked with IQAA, the Independent Schools Quality Assurance Association, to accredit schools for ISASA membership and to ensure that ISASA accredited schools maintain the quality standards required for ongoing association.
Latterly, Sue has qualified through SACAP as a Life and Business Coach and, in addition to working for PAT as a coach/mentor, is pursuing her passion as an independent Life and Leadership Coach for individuals, PBO’s and businesses.
Qualifications: PTD III (Science) – Bellville Training College, BA and BEd Hons – UWC
Taught: Biology and Natural Science teacher: Parkview Primary (1 year), Scottsdene High School (1 year), Cedar High School (4 years as teacher, 3 years as HOD, 8 years as Deputy Principal)
Principal: Cedar High School – Principal (23 years)
David is passionate about developing human resources in South African learning and teaching institutions. He has forty years of teaching experience, the last twenty-three years, he served as principal of Cedar High School in Mitchell’s Plain.
He believes in a learner-centred approach and that developing a committed and dedicated leadership team is paramount to the growth of any organisation. Emotional intelligence and a strong dose of self-belief make him a formidable leader. David is currently coaching principals who are part of the Principals Academy programme.
Qualifications: BA in Physical Education (and History major), HDE (StellenboschUniversity)
Taught: Physical Education and History at Plumstead High School and Muizenberg High School
Principal: Fish Hoek High School (2010-2021)
Gavin remains totally sold on South Africa’s youth. Blessed with a long-suffering wife, two adult children and a daughter-in-law, a bicycle and uncountable bonsai, Gavin was in education for 34 years, the last 12 as principal of Fish Hoek High School. He is steeped in the traditions of Scripture Union and a life-long commitment to Jesus Christ and now works in his community as a Life Coach, Mentor and Public Speaker with a heart for teens, young adults and their parents.
OUR OFFICE STAFF AND CONSULTANTS
Joanne is responsible for Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, as well as being part of the stakeholder management team.
Linda is your first point of call when contacting our offices. She ensures the smooth running of the office, fulfils an administration role and makes sure that all our programmes and communication remain on track.
HANNALIE VAN DER MERWE
Hannalie manages funder communications as a consultant for PAT.
Jeanette manages matters related to Governance as a consultant for PAT.