UCT Online High School has appointed Banele Lukhele as the executive head of the school and its chief academic officer.
UCT Online High School is one of the largest schools in the country, and 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.
With this in mind, UCT Online High School has appointed Banele Lukhele as UCT Online High School’s executive head and its chief academic officer with effect from 1 December. Lukhele will take over from Yandiswa Xhakaza who, after careful consideration, has taken the decision to step down from the role of director and principal.
Lukhele is joined by Sipho Mpisane as head of school for the CAPS curriculum and Tessa Venter as head of school for international curricula. Together, Lukhele, Mpisane and Venter lead a team of subject specialists, learning facilitators and support coaches who will enable every learner to realise their full potential.
Lukhele 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 master’s in curriculum, instruction and assessment from Walden University in the United States, which she earned by studying online. As the director of faculty at UCT Online High School, Banele has played a pivotal role in onboarding a 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, she played 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 the school’s commitment to leadership through a culture of continual improvement in its service to learners and their families.
In reflecting on her new role, Lukhele said: “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, reinforcing 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.”
“I’d look at the curriculum that they wanted to follow, and I’d map the entire curriculum based on their interests.”
She added: “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.”
Valenture Institute CEO and founder, Rob Paddock, shared 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 the director of faculty, Banele has been at the centre of 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.”
In 2023 UCT Online High School will be welcoming its first National Senior Certificate Grade 12 class, inaugurating their adult matric offering and launching their Cambridge International curriculum. Lukhele, Mpisane and Venter will be leading and coordinating every step of this journey for learners, guardians and staff.
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