As part of our Education Partnerships Group (EPG), Ark is supporting the Western Cape Education Department in South Africa in piloting a new model of school in the public education system. The goal of the “Collaboration Schools” programme is to meet the challenge of ensuring lower income communities have access to the same quality of teaching and learning as those from more affluent backgrounds.


One of the biggest challenges in schools across the world is ensuring that students in lower income communities have access to the same quality of teaching and learning as those from more affluent backgrounds.

Our Education Partnerships Group (EPG) is working with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) in South Africa in piloting a new model of public school to meet that challenge, known as ‘Collaboration Schools.’ The model is based on the UK academies but adapted for the local context.

Led by the WCED, the pilot project is testing a model of schooling that will strengthen the quality of teaching and learning in public schools, which will remain no-fee and non-selective, through the introduction of support from non-profit education organisations known as ‘school operating partners.’ The pilot is being supported by the Millennium Trust, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Zenex Foundation, FirstRand Foundation, and DG Murray Trust.

The school operating partners will ensure intensive school-level support to teachers and principals through training, additional resources, monitoring and regular feedback. The WCED will continue to hold the schools and school operating partners to account as part of the public education system, and existing teachers at Collaboration Schools will remain WCED employees.

What is a collaboration school?

A collaboration school is a no-fee public school, partnered with non-profit school operating partners (SOPs) committed to increasing the quality of teaching as well as improving overall learning outcomes for children.

While the schools are funded the same as normal public schools, additional financial support is being provided by a group of local and international donors. This funding will support the partner organisations as well as activities at the school level. The pilot currently includes five schools but is set to expand in 2017.  

“It is incumbent on us as the Western Cape government, to try new ways of improving the education system, and particularly to address the inequalities that still persist as a legacy of apartheid,” said Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education for the Western Cape. “We believe that this model can make a positive difference in providing quality education in poor communities and improving performance in underperforming schools.”

The pilot scheme is being tested in both new and existing schools at both primary and secondary level to provide the most useful evidence base from which to draw conclusions. The pilot is being launched with five schools in 2016, for a period of five years and will look to increase this number as capacity and resources allow, subject to performance of the partners and the schools.

"We are delighted to be working alongside our partners to support the Western Cape government's collaboration schools pilot,” said Susannah Hares, Director of International Programmes for Ark. “This innovate initiative has the potential to deliver real benefits to learners in the classrooms and to the system as a whole." 

The initial participating schools are: 

  • Forest Village Leadership Academy
  • Happy Valley Primary School
  • Langa High School
  • Oranjekloof Primary School
  • Silikamva High School

The initial school operating partners are: 

  •   Common Good Foundation
  •   Mellon Educate
  •   2 Oceans Education Foundation