UCT Online High School is one of the largest schools in the country, as the name implies, it is an online school. As a result of both the size and modality, the organisational structure of the school is very different from a traditional school and requires a broad set of departments and skills (such as learning design, technical support, data analytics etc,) which regular schools don’t require.
These differences also include the role of the principal, which in the case of UCT Online High School, must play an important oversight and governance role as the school continues to grow. UCT Online High School is one school with multiple offerings, and each of these offerings has a head of school who operates more like a traditional school principal.
With this in mind, UCT Online High School is delighted to announce that Banele Lukhele has been appointed as UCT Online High School’s Executive Head of School and Chief Academic Officer with effect from 1 December. Banele will take over from Yandiswa Xhakaza who, after careful consideration, has taken the decision to step down from the role of Director and Principal of UCT Online High School.
As a result of both the size and modality, the organisational structure of the school is very different from what Yandiswa expected. These differences also include the role of the principal, which in the case of UCT Online High School, is predominantly externally-focused, with a significant amount of relationships with the broader university, government, examination bodies, corporate companies and philanthropy. Yandiswa leaves UCT Online High School in pursuit of a more hands-on and operational role for her next career chapter.
Banele is joined by Sipho Mpisane as Head of School for the CAPS curriculum and Tessa Venter as Head of School for International curricula. Together, Banele, Sipho and Tessa lead a team of subject specialists, learning facilitators and support coaches, who will enable every learner to realise their full potential as they study with the school. Banele, Sipho and Tessa have a range and depth of experience that is particularly appropriate for our innovative approach to education.
Banele is an experienced and distinguished teacher with an Honours degree in Music, majoring in composition, from the University of the Witwatersrand, a Diploma in Sound Engineering and a Masters in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment from Walden University in the United States, which she earned by studying online.
As Director of Faculty at UCT Online High School, Banele has played a pivotal role in onboarding our team of teaching and learning specialists, for which she is widely respected. Passionate about data and the potential of learning analytics for identifying and responding to the individual needs of our learners, Banele has had a central role in designing and implementing the comprehensive suite of enhancements that are being implemented ahead of the 2023 school year.
Redefining the former role of Principal as Executive Head of School, and combining this responsibility with the position of chief Academic Officer will signal and strengthen our commitment to leadership through a culture of continual improvement in our service to our learners and their families.
In reflecting on her new role, Banele says: “This is an exciting next step for me, as being a part of UCT Online High School has been pivotal in my growth as an innovative educator. My first priorities in this role will be, firstly, reomforcing the application of data-driven teaching and learning through initiatives such as training and collaborative reflection; and secondly, driving community awareness. Many people may shy away from online learning because they do not fully understand this. I would like to spend time driving awareness of the work that we do and how it can make a positive impact in learners’ lives.”
Banele Lukhele has a Diploma in Sound Engineering from Emendy College (2006), and an Honours degree in Music with a major in Composition from the University of the Witwatersrand. She completed the Nexus Leadership Programme at the Gordon Institute for Business Studies, University of Pretoria, in 2016 and she was awarded a Masters in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment from Walden University in the United States in 2020. A passionate innovator, Banele developed a unique approach for teaching maths and science using music and the creative arts, founding her own company to deliver her services.
She recalls, “I started realising that there is an opportunity in education to create a new type of teaching and learning where parents have chosen to take their children out of the mainstream. So, I started exploring how to customise education. I would interview the learners and their families, look at their interests, where they want to go, and I’d look at the curriculum that they wanted to follow, and I’d map the entire curriculum based on their interests.”
As Chief Academic Officer and UCT Online High School’s Executive Head of School, Banele is a member of Valenture Institute’s Executive Committee, reporting directly to the Chief Operations Officer, with a dotted line to Valenture Institute’s CEO and the University of Cape Town’s Vice Chancellor. She is the strategic lead for academics, and the point of authority on teaching and learning policy and practices within the school. As Executive Head of School, Banele is a key member of UCT Online High School’s Oversight Committee, which is chaired by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.
Valenture Institute CEO and Founder, Rob Paddock, shares his support of the announcement, “I am so pleased that Banele has agreed to serve as Executive Head of School and Chief Academic Officer. As Director of Faculty, Banele has been at the centre of this, the first year of the UCT Online High School. Always calm and considered, she has won widespread respect for her insights, the support and wisdom she has brought to her team and her steadfast commitment to our vision for a new era of schooling. She has also been instrumental in designing and implementing the significant enhancements that we are busy introducing for the new school year. I can think of no one better to take us into the next school year, and beyond.”
2023 will be an exciting year for UCT Online High School. Key enhancements are being implemented that will provide more structure and opportunities for engagement by both learners and their guardians. UCT Online High School will also be welcoming its first National Senior Certificate Grade 12 class, inaugurating its Adult Matric offering and launching the Cambridge International curriculum. Banele, Tessa and Sipho will be leading and coordinating every step of this journey for learners, guardians and staff.