Blog

LETTER FROM THE BOARD

2 December 2020

Dear St Anne’s Community,

This past week marks the end of a challenging year and the Board would like to extend its gratitude to all our stakeholders for their ongoing support.

Our transformation journey as a school continues. The Nelson Mandela Foundation, with whom the school partnered on this journey, has withdrawn its participation in the past week. St Anne’s remains committed to our transformation and diversity agenda with respect to admissions, appointments and most importantly, our conversations that expand our commitment to embrace connection in our St Anne’s family. We thank the NMF for its role in our journey and it is in good faith, that we seek a deeper understanding between both parties.

This is a God led journey, deeply rooted in healing hearts, growth mindsets and firm policies. We remain committed to eradicating systemic racism, prejudice and any barriers to complete acceptance of diversity at St Anne’s. The NMF hold a wealth of experience on meaningful change processes and best practice on relevant ways to contribute within the education sector required clear alignment within the Joint Oversight Committee. We will build on what has done thus far, and we look forward to further momentum with the transformation process.

May I reassure you, and your daughters, that as a Board, and as a school, we are deeply committed to a process of authentic and meaningful transformation with the goal of nurturing a sense of belonging for all girls and staff and building a community that ensures that St Anne’s is a place of belonging for our girls of the 21st century.

You will find an addendum to this letter which outlines the actions the school has taken recently, and others which will receive urgent attention when school reconvenes. Following on from this we will send out a summary of the survey results after consultation with the NMF.

The Board was delighted to have received a number of high quality nominations for new Board members and we will be making announcements about new appointments shortly. We appreciate our community’s willingness to respond to our call which indicates a readiness and commitment to grow a stronger St Anne’s.

The Board is delighted to have Mrs Martin lead our school next year. We are thrilled to have a woman of her caliber and credentials, and we look forward to this new chapter at St Anne’s with her at the helm, ably assisted by Mr van Niekerk and Ms Mlilo (who is very excited about joining the College) and the dedicated St Anne’s staff. The Board has enormous faith in Mrs Martin and her team as they embark on the journey ahead to grow and strengthen our school even further.

We await the matric results next year and look forward to them continuing to reflect a high academic standard.

Finally, thank you for all your support, and on behalf of the Board, may I wish you and your families a blessed and happy Christmas and a prosperous and exciting new year.

Kind regards

Kari Greene

Chairman of the Board  

 

REPORT BACK ON TRANSFORMATION AND TERM 4

In reporting back on our transformation journey, following the recent NMF surveys and “listening tour” to our school, we would like to thank the NMF for their engagement and recommendations in the process. This has highlighted the need for us to embark on, and include some necessary changes with regards to governance, policies and procedures of inclusion and diversity. There is a need for urgent transformation as some in our community have felt excluded, based on their race. A positive aspect of the survey showed that all our stakeholders are invested in working together for a better St Anne’s.

The following actions have been, or are being taken:

  • An independent audit to ensure our governance policies and procedures are compliant. This process has begun and contact with reputable audit firms has been made. Scoping of the process has started and is covering issues to ensure that matters like regular appraisals, fair and equal treatment of all staff with regards to race, gender and position, are upheld; salary details are clear and understood. A report back will be given to the Board.
  • Policies relating to Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-discrimination will be re-worked after consultation with representatives from various stakeholder groups. The current Code of Conduct will also be revised. The emphasis in the writing of these policies will be on creating safe and brave spaces for girls and staff and for the creation of an inclusive environment which promotes belonging.
  • A meaningful Induction Programme for Grade 8s will be introduced in early 2021, as well as an Induction Programme for Staff and Board members.
  • Our curriculum needs ongoing attention to ensure the content is appropriate for a school that is diverse and inclusive.
  • In terms of the school’s internal communication processes, a means to ensure access to information and transparency is required – meetings with staff on these matters have already begun. Processes are being put in place and relevant training will be undertaken.
  • The school realised that a Human Resources Officer was needed and the process confirmed that this position was required. A suitable candidate will begin work in January 2021 and the news has been very well received by staff across the board.
  • A need for a Head of Transformation was identified last year, and the NMF confirmed this need. We are very pleased that Mrs Ghemma Wylde has been appointed as Head of Transformation, and Mr Themba Radebe has been appointed as the Head of Ngikhona. These are both internal appointments and they will work closely with Steercom, girls and staff.
  • The NMF staff who visited our school were impressed with their interaction with the girls whom they found to be aware, engaged & positive, a valuable asset in the transformation journey.

The Way Forward

In terms of the way forward the Board would like to acknowledge the following to date:

  1. The appointment of a new Head of school.
  2. The recruitment of a new:
    1. Deputy Head of Pastoral Care
    2. A Human Resources Officer
  1. The appointment of the following internal posts:
    1. Head of Transformation
    2. Head of Ngikhona
  1. The revision of the appointment procedures for Board Members – 4 new Board Members will be appointed by the end of the month.

The Board and School Executive (Steercom) are taking, the following steps:

  • Suggest a meeting with some school representatives, such as the Board Chairman, Head of the College, Deputy Head and the Heads of Transformation and Ngikhona with members of the Black Parents’ Forum, and our other stakeholder groups.
  • Visiting speakers who are actively involved with a number of schools in their transformation journey will address the school in early 2021.
  • The Heads of Transformation (Mrs Ghemma Wylde) and Ngikhona (Mr Themba Radebe) will attend Steercom meetings regularly. (Ngikhona is a committee comprised of representatives of all staff and girls).
  • Parents will be invited into the school space to contribute to, and support, the transformation process.
  • Old Girls would also be invited in as stakeholders. The Old Girls’ structure requires transformation too and this is an area with the potential for dynamic interaction.
  • The Head Girl and Deputy Head Girl, and other senior girls, would work closely with this extended Steercom structure in establishing circles of conversation among our staff and girls, and our other stakeholders. The importance of regular conversations with trained facilitators holding the space cannot be overemphasised so people may feel safe and brave.
  • The Enrichment Committee will continue with weekly Friday Discussions with girls and will work with the Head of Transformation, and others, to ensure relevant workshops and activities for Social Awareness.
  • College Head will have regular meetings with middle management, such as Grade Heads and Supervisors for closer communication which may necessitate intervention at times.
  • The development of a document which girls, parents and staff sign to express a commitment and willingness to participate in the transformation process and to agree to conditions which relate to positive behaviour and the College’s expectations.
  • Recruitment will continue to include goals to ensure the academic and pastoral staff become more diverse.