The Foundation recently hosted its annual Circle of Excellence (COE) conference. The COE principal’s conference is a school leader’s platform to recognise a diverse group of schools that share a commitment to develop future entrepreneurial leaders. The COE is an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation initiative that was launched in 2008 to partner with secondary schools that are consistent in their delivery of candidates to the Allan Gray Fellowship. The COE conference enhances the significance of entrepreneurial leadership and the application of entrepreneurial mindsets in schools.
This year the conference aimed to achieve the following; 1) acknowledge and celebrate the schools that have produced Fellows, 2) advocate for entrepreneurial mindset education in schools, 3) share best practices in maintaining COE schools as centres of excellence and 4) create a platform to share knowledge and experience to incorporate entrepreneurial mindset development in schools.
Acknowledge and celebrate the schools that have produced Fellows
In the Courageous Commitment Award category – a school that has provided the highest number of Fellowship awards since COE inception (2009) – Settles High School were awarded 1st place. Hudson Park High School came in 2nd, Collegiate Girls High School in 3rd, St.John’s College in 4th and Bracken High School in 5th. In the Achievement Excellence Award category – the school that has provided the highest number of Allan Gray Fellows – Settlers High School again scooped up 1st place with Hudson Park High School in 2nd. In 3rd we had a tie – Collegiate Girls High School and St. John’s College. In 4th again a tie – Bracken High School, Pretoria School for Girls, St. Mary’s School, Waverley, Pinetown Girls High School, Durban Girls High School and Rondebosch Boys High School. And lastly, 5th place also had a tie – Clapham High School, Umtata High School, Benoni High School, Durban High School and Hoerskool Louis Trichardt.
Create a platform to share knowledge and experience to incorporate entrepreneurial mindset development in schools.
The conference again had an array of thought leaders speaking on a variety of topics related to education. The conference opened with an inspirational rags to riches personal story by Frank Magwegwe. In 1993, through selling fruit & vegetables in downtown Johannes- burg, Frank beat the odds and escaped homelessness. Over the last 23 years, Frank has travelled a fascinating journey “from the streets to finding purpose and passion.”
The rest of the speakers included Alison Bengston, the Chief Director of Districts Operations Management in the Gauteng Department of Education, George Harris and David du Toit from Lebone II in Phokeng, Dr Nic Spaull, a well-known education researcher in South Africa, Prof. Pedro Tabensky, the director of the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics (AGCLE) and Trevor Manuel who served in the government of South Africa as Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2009 and as Minister in the Presidency for the National Planning Commission from 2009 to 2014. [Speaker presentations and audio will be available soon on our website]
This year the Foundation also partnered with the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI), a global thought leader dedicated to expanding human potential through entrepreneurial mindset education. “The power of entrepreneurial thinking reaches far beyond traditional enterprise creation,” Schoeniger said. “Entrepreneurship education exposes opportunity, ignites ambition and fosters the development of creativity and critical thinking, communication and teamwork, effective problem solving and other essential 21st Century skills.” Schoeniger’s keynote focused on redefining entrepreneurship; how it is more than an academic discipline, reaching far beyond the concept of traditional business creation and small business management. Entrepreneurship is a mindset; a framework for thinking and acting that can empower anyone to succeed. Bree Langemo and Gary Schoeniger also spoke on the following:
- Entrepreneurial Mindset in the Classroom & the Workplace – The development of entrepreneurial attitudes and skills requires mental models that encourage people to take ownership of their ideas as well as their ability to learn.
- Leading with an Entrepreneurial Mindset – An entrepreneurial mindset cultivates curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, complex problem solving and collaboration – skills that drive entrepreneurial and organisational success.
- An Entrepreneurial Mindset for Student Success – how an entrepreneurial mindset has impacted student persistence. Langemo claims that their data suggest that students with an entrepreneurial mindset out perform their peers.
The conference again allowed principal’s to grapple with what it means to develop and equip learners with 21st century skills. The Foundation maintains that entrepreneurial mindset is core to this skillset. The challenge remains – how do we equip our children for jobs that have not even been created yet. This is what Ken Robinson, educational thought leader has to say about it: