Strategic Plan 2016-2019

We have 4 strategic imperatives:

1. Pupils

One generation after the start of demographic government, many of our pupils are better educated than their parents and most are still the first in their families who have competed high school and have the opportunity to go to university. Our focus must stay on preparing pupils for success in education, in order for them to become global citizens who are active, contributing members of society. We have put much time, effort and resources into incorporating a high school so that we can now offer an integrated educational package for a child from age 3 in Gr 000 through to age 18 in Gr 12. Our pupils are part of a technological world and we need to ensure they have the tools and the access to it. The key risk here is the expense involved but this must be a focus area for funding. We also believe that education is not only about academic achievement but about being given the opportunity to discover one’s talent for sport, drama, music, art. We will:

  • Create a network with tertiary institutions for facilitating our pupils’ access to further education
  • Build on the value system to make it more relevant to our school community
  • Expose all pupils to sports and cultural activities
  • Motivate pupils by using relevant activities, engaging them in experiences that are modern, motivational and fun, opening up more opportunities for experimental and self-learning
  • Align our resources with educational needs, using more technology
  • Provide space, access to the internet and the equipment where necessary for using technology in learning
  • Increase the achievement of all of our pupils by:
    • Collecting data from external exams like the ANAs and from school assessments
    • Using data collected to improve teaching methods
    • Capturing best practice in all subjects and sharing these practices
    • Meet the individual learning needs of the pupils through counselling, group teaching and putting in place individual remedial fast track systems
  • Achieve 100% Bachelor’s pass rate at Gr 12 level
  • Broaden access to getting a good Matric by introducing Maths Literacy in Grade 11 for more creative pupils who are not able to do pure Maths

2. Staff

Vuleka’s development has demonstrated clearly that with good teachers and sound leadership, any child from any background can succeed. Our key risk here is that there is fierce competition for talented academic staff in particular. We need to focus on teacher retention and provide an environment that attracts and nurtures members of staff especially as we are unable to offer top salaries. Staff selection, retention, training and development are therefore critical areas of focus. We will:

  • Develop a formal recruiting, mentoring and induction program for all staff
  • Invest in our teachers, giving them collegial, academic and practical support
  • Continue to invest in the Student Teacher Training Programme
  • Establish a Vuleka annual summit to ensure that all staff, current and new, buy into the vision, understand the goals of Vuleka and how we are going to achieve them and to share and learn best practice
  • Assess teacher retention and leadership retention
  • Ensure staff have an extensive knowledge of their subject
  • Support teachers to achieve this through further study and access to the internet, providing a projector and a computer in each classroom
  • Expect every staff member to take individual responsibility for their work, actions and welfare of those in their charge
  • Develop an effective leadership pipeline in all spheres of the school
  • Establish external partnerships with other Independent schools to share best practice
  • Share our model, practises and lesson preparation with the broader educational community

3. Parent Partnership

We have learned how powerful it is when pupil, parent and teacher work together, keeping the best interests of the child at heart. We will build on the work done in the last strategic plan to:

  • Get parents, guardians and pupils to commit to their children’s and their own education and encourage them to put in the time and effort and savings required for their child’s success. We will use the initial parent interview, meetings with individual parents as well as formal regular meetings and school events to encourage all parents in this
  • Ensure the school heads and teachers are aware of the difficult challenges that many of our families face
  • Try to close the gap between school values and community values by finding common ground and building on it

4. Financial Sustainability and Capacity Building

Vuleka is a low-fee school and we need to continue to address issues that may threaten the future viability of the school. As far as key risks are concerned, we have noted the decrease in the value of the state subsidy in real terms and the increase in time-consuming and excessively bureaucratic reporting and compliance requirements of the state. We operate in a community which is still overwhelmingly poor and yet who need a good education to escape the poverty trap. We have increasing competition from other for-profit low-fee schools. We pursue a difficult path in wanting to remain accessible to pupils from poorer communities, while operating in a squeezed financial environment where there is very little economic growth (current rate of 1.5%), much higher inflation (5.5%) and increasing unemployment. We will:

  • Actively maintain records and data of our alumni so that we can contact them for support after graduation
  • Build up more reserve funds
  • Establish relationships of trust with local and international funding partners
  • Pull back to our operating principle that the school fees should cover staff salaries
  • Establish relationships with families and businesses that are willing to contribute towards fees for orphans and vulnerable children
  • Find creative ways of funding the difference between fees and the costs of education, placing emphasis on programmes broadening the donor base
  • Lobby for bigger subsidies and less onerous compliance requirements while maintaining a relationship based on principled constructive engagement with the Department of Education and other local government and state bodies.

We have looked very carefully at our strategy map: assessing where we are, imagining where we want to be and determining our priorities for the next five years in order to plan what we need to do to achieve all we are setting out to do. Allied to this are some capital projects that we need to complete to position ourselves for reaching more pupils.

The St Joseph’s boy’s school opens in January 2016 with Grades 0, 1 & 2 and will grow naturally to Grade 7 by the start of 2021. However, the Grade 6 & 7 classrooms will have to be completed by the end of 2019 for the Grade 6s to start the following year (each of the four buildings around the quad has space for two classrooms. The one building is currently occupied by the Vuleka Central Office which must move before December 2018.

The Central Office will move as soon as funding is available to do the renovations needed to restore the old Boys House of the old St Joseph’s Home. So far, we have sourced R600 000 towards this. This gracious building, across the driveway from the boy’s school, has been badly neglected both by time and by the previous tenants. The Johannesburg Historical Foundation has given us the go-ahead, stipulating the materials to be used, what we can and cannot change, and guidelines to follow.

The Middle School joined the Matric Centre in Bordeaux and the Vuleka SSB High School was in place and fully operational from July 2015. The move gives us the opportunity to grow the high school to a more viable 400 pupils. The property costs of just under R7m are mostly but not quite fully funded by the sale of the Middle School, while the first phase of renovations for R1.7m have been fully funded. Our focus now is on finding the last million rand so we do not have to have a mortgage bond to service. We would like to increase the recreational space of the school and complete the capital investment by purchasing a strip of land owned by the Johannesburg Property Company, currently leased by the school. By doing these two things we would save R240 000 a year – money that would be better spent on teaching and learning.