November 29, 2013


FLTR – Robin Landman (Director: Sesonke Partnership), Stella Mbubaegbu (CEO and Principal of Highbury College, UK), Nick Balkrishen (CEO and Principal of Gert Sibande College), Signe Sutherland (CEO and Principal of North Hertfordshire College, UK), Chris Yiannakou (Director: Sisonke Partnership), and Hester van Zyl (Deputy CEO: Academic Gert Sibande College) met in London to finalise the partnership arrangements.

In order to realise their vision of becoming the leading college brand in South Africa, Gert Sibande College has placed strategic importance on partnerships, both local and international. Recently, the college was identified by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to participate in a British Council funded programme called “Skills for employability”. 

The programme was aimed at forming links between top performing colleges from South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK) to enhance the quality of vocational training that would lead to greater employability in both countries. Gert Sibande College decided to form partnerships with Highbury College and North Hertfordshire College. Both are top performing colleges in the UK with certification rates in excess of 90% and have similar programme and qualification mixes to Gert Sibande College.

Sisonke Partnership was appointed as the project managers for the partnership. The first phase of the project included a visit by Nick Balkrishen and Hester van Zyl to the UK to meet with their UK counterparts, view and interact with some of their best college practices and discuss the viability and sustainability of such a partnership. The visit which took place from the 19 October to the 28 October 2013 was deemed very successful by the 3 colleges. In reciprocation, Stella Mbubaegbu (CEO and Principal of Highbury College, UK) and Signe Sutherland (CEO and Principal of North Hertfordshire College, UK) will be visiting Gert Sibande College in February 2014. During their visit they will also share their story of “good to outstanding colleges” with the management of Gert Sibande College. 

Aims & Objectives of the Partnership

To raise the profile and reputation of the colleges as key change agents in the local, regional economy and beyond by:

  1. Developing appropriate programmes that reflect the needs of learners and employers.
  2. Improve the quality of teaching & learning
  3. Improve initial advice and guidance and learner support  buy a research papers cheap
  4. Capacity building for management & governance (leadership training & managing performance)
  5. Develop & utilizing appropriate information technology systems for both learning & management performance monitoring
  6. Build stronger partnerships with employers in both the public and private sectors. The CEO of Gert Sibande College, Nick Balkrishen, was inspired by the willingness of his UK counterparts to share the secrets of their success and also their commitment of time and resources towards the project. He was impressed by how effectively technology is used to enhance teaching and learning in the UK and is confident that the partnership will enable these technologies to be brought to Gert Sibande College. It will be important to customise some of the UK best practices to suit the context of South African colleges, he added. He is confident that the partnership will act as a catalyst to improving the quality of vocational education at Gert Sibande College even further. Our key objective is to ensure that, like in the UK, our training is responsive to the demands of the labour market so that our students are highly sought after, he concluded. Hester van Zyl the deputy CEO:Academic was appreciative of the British Council who are funding this partnership initiative.    


JUNE 23, 2014

As part of the UK/SA “Skills for Employability” Partnership between Gert Sibande TVET College and two colleges in the UK, the Principals of the two UK Colleges visited Gert Sibande College on 26 May 2014.  The workshop facilitated by the two Principals, formed part of a project which is funded by the British Council and MERSETA.

The Principal from Highbury College in Portsmouth, Stella Mbubaegbu, shared with Senior Management Staff Members of the college, the Highbury Way to become an outstanding College.  She defined their journey as “a whole college approach to success”.  The focus was very much on Strategic Leadership and high levels of accountability at all levels to enhance the quality of learning and teaching in the institution.   She also emphasised the role of extensive self- evaluation through monitoring and evaluation tools such as the OFSTED Inspection tool that is utilised by Colleges in the UK to improve Student Performance and the overall effectiveness of College Leadership and Management in preparation for their grading as Colleges.  The College also utilises an advanced Data Warehouse system to effectively monitor student performance and attendance.

Senior Management Staff Members of Gert Sibande TVET College with Signe Sutherland, the Principal of North Hertfordshire College(UK) and The Principal from Highbury College in Portsmouth, Stella Mbubaegbu during the Senior Manager Workshop at Central Office.

Signe Sutherland, the Principal of North Hertfordshire College in Stevenage, shared their college’s vision of establishing an Entrepreneurial College culture where students are assisted by the college to establish Learning Companies where a platform is created for students to exercise actual entrepreneurial and business skills.  Through their STEM Centre they reach out to prospective and current students to introduce them to the world of learning through advanced technologies and 3D Content Delivery and creatively change the way in which learning takes place.

Andrie Steyn Ermelo Campus Campus Manager

Stella (Right) of Highbury College, Nick Balkrishen of GS College and Signe(Left) of North Hertfordshire College.







The visit from the two Principals were followed by the visits from UK Partners Jackie Page, Regional Director for UK business, and Alison Winter, Head of Quality and Teaching & Learning.   Sessions were delivered to Campus management and Lecturing staff in Classroom Management and Assessment Practices, covering amongst others the following aspects:

  • Observation and grading of lessons and giving constructive feedback
  • The role of Advanced Practitioners (Programme Coordinators) as mentors and monitors
  • Characteristics of an outstanding lesson and how to plan for it
  • The importance of self-evaluation to measure progress against targets set.

The foundation for a sustainable partnership has been laid and it is hoped that communication and collaboration between the management, staff and students of the three colleges will continue beyond the duration of the 2 year British Council project so that it may flourish into a long standing partnership which will mutually benefit the parties concerned in sharing best practices across international borders.

Ermelo Campus training

Jackie Page (Far left) of Highbury College with her group of lecturers from Ermelo and Sibanesetfu Campus.


Jackie Page Highbury College with her group of lecturers from Standerton and Evendar Campus.