Join us on a journey towards excellence!

Acorn Education is a not-for-profit organisation.  We form part of the Collaboration School Pilot Programme, an exciting initiative launched in 2016 in partnership with civil society, a group of funders and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The aim of this programme is to connect selected no-fee public schools with a supportive partner like Acorn Education.

Our mission is to transform the lives of all of our learners by providing them with a high-quality education to enable them to realise their full potential.  We upskill and support the school principals and educators to improve the educational outcomes of their learners and our team of education specialists are leading the field in professional development for school educators in South Africa.

Our founding CEO, Anco Booysen has relocated to the USA and we seek a new CEO to lead the organisation to achieve even greater levels of strategic impact, innovation and influence across our network of partnership schools. The CEO will oversee learner outcomes, school improvement, operations, culture, people development and financial objectives.  Moreover, the CEO must be able to harness the momentum that has been built, apply an entrepreneurial zeal and mindset, and leverage the power of data to strengthen the organisation’s credibility and brand as a leader in education in South Africa.

Our Values


Agile Our agility allows us to adapt and respond to what is most important at a specific time to achieve our mission.


‘Can do’ Every member of our team is equipped with a “can do’ attitude – enabling us to reach our own high expectation and those of our schools, teachers and learners.


Optimistic We believe that a grateful mindset leads to an optimistic and favourable view of life.


Resilient Our journey will not be an easy one. We are committed to persevere despite challenges that may arise.


Nurture Just like an acorn, if something is nurtured it has the potential to grow into something greater. We not only nurture our people but those who help our schools grow.
Key responsibilities

The CEO will be responsible for carrying out Acorn Education’s achievement of its mission and strategic vision. The precise areas of responsibility for this post will be agreed based around your skills and the needs of the schools, but it is anticipated that you will be able to:

Vision and Strategy

  • Together with the Board, carry out the vision and mission of the organisation.
  • Promote a culture of collaboration, innovation and excellence across the network of partnership schools.
  • Lead the development and implementation of our strategic plans, with a focus on expanding our impact.
  • Monitor, evaluate and report progress to the Board and other key stakeholders.
  • Understand how emerging economic, social, and political developments may present opportunities and challenges for the organisation, and rapidly bring these to the forefront.


Leadership and Management

  • Lead the team within a fast paced and ever-changing environment across multiple locations.
  • Provide inspirational, supportive and empowering leadership for a diverse range of extraordinarily passionate, committed and skilled staff members.
  • Demonstrate an energetic, entrepreneurial nature that combines leadership and intellectual curiosity with practical management skills.
  • Demonstrate excellence in people development and enable staff to reach their full potential.


Organisational Culture and People

  • Ensure the internal culture supports the mission and promotes synergy and collaboration across the organisation.
  • Enhance the culture of diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of the organisation.
  • Inspire staff with bold vision and clear measurable progress against strategic priorities.
  • Represent, nurture and protect organisational culture and values, ensuring yearly checks on culture are being done and recommendations for improvement are being made.
  • Together with the Management Team, be responsible for the development and wellness of Acorn Education team members. 

Fundraising and Partnerships

  • Actively lead and participate in Acorn Education’s long-term fundraising efforts to secure significant investments from individuals, foundations and corporations.
  • Lead the development of proposals, reports, media and PR materials to improve the organisation’s visibility and attract new funders and staff.
  • Ensure good overall partner relationships with the WCED, our funders, the development partners, other partner organisations, our school communities and other stakeholders.
  • Identify and contract quality service providers who can provide support to the organisation or schools in specialised areas where resource gaps exist.

Candidate Profile

  • Be committed to redressing inequality through education, with a belief that a quality education system can transform lives.
  • Be a great team builder, who makes excellent hires and then develops and empowers staff to grow in their expertise and output.
  • Be agile and highly adaptable in order to operate in an ever-changing environment, with the need to work under pressure and to meet deadlines.
  • Have excellent judgment and creative problem-solving skills including negotiation and collaboration skills.
  • Have the maturity to deal with hard conversations and healthy, constructive conflict when needed.
  • Be able to operate as an effective strategic thinker but also able to roll up your own sleeves and to lead by example.
  • Be a well-groomed, highly organised, self-motivated leader who displays ethical and professional behaviour at all times.


Necessary experience and qualifications

  • Relevant tertiary qualification.
  • Must be a South African national or possess a permanent resident permit.
  • Experience in engaging, collaborating and negotiating with stakeholders
  • Solid, demonstrated, experience in leading a team
  • Experience in a start-up environment would be beneficial
  • An excellent command of the English language and impeccable communication and presentation skills
  • No criminal record (candidates will undergo a criminal background check)


To apply, please submit an updated CV with references to:

Ernst Gouws

Chairperson of Acorn Education

[email protected]

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