Keen to share ex­per­tise

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ALAS­TAIR LYNN and ROSE CAW­LEY

IT IS all about col­lab­o­ra­tion not iso­la­tion for Auck­land ed­u­ca­tors back­ing the com­mu­ni­ties of schools ini­tia­tive.

While there may be some kinks to iron out sur­round­ing the In­vest­ing In Ed­u­ca­tional Suc­cess (IES) pol­icy, 29 com­mu­ni­ties made up of 222 schools have signed up.

The sec­ond wave of 129 schools across New Zealand fol­lowed the lead of early com­mu­ni­ties like Auck­land Cen­tral to en­ter the col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­gramme.

The new Lynfield com­mu­nity of schools will be spread across Waikowhai, Lynfield and Block­house Bay.

The eight schools will in­clude Lynfield Col­lege, Waikowhai In­ter­me­di­ate, Halsey Drive and Mar­shall Laing schools.

Waikowhai In­ter­me­di­ate prin­ci­pal Howard Perry says the benefits of the pro­gramme are quite clear.

‘‘Schools share a com­mon in­ter­est in the com­mu­nity,’’ he says.

‘‘It makes sense for schools to be work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion as op­posed to be­ing in iso­la­tion.’’

In 2014 the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced the $359 mil­lion IES ini­tia­tive would pro­vide com­mu­ni­ties of schools with fund­ing to en­able teach­ers and prin­ci­pals to share teach­ing and lead­er­ship ex­per­tise.

‘‘First and fore­most there is a wealth of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence in the eight schools,’’ Perry says.

‘‘There are some out­stand­ing prac­ti­tion­ers out there that be­fore this have not had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore out­side of their own school.’’

Perry ad­mits that there has been ‘‘a lit­tle bit of pol­i­tics’’ around the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the new com­mu­nity but he is con­fi­dent things are mov­ing for­ward.

‘‘Those are all just small lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues that we have agreed to work around,’’ he says.

One of th­ese is­sues has been de­cid­ing who would take up the role of lead prin­ci­pal. ‘‘They’re all highly tal­ented prin­ci­pals – it’s hard try­ing to choose which one of them will be the best . . . but we’re not let­ting that get in the way of all the pos­i­tives to come.’’

With the ma­jor­ity of the area’s pri­mary school pupils mov­ing on to at­tend Lynfield Col­lege, the sec­ondary school has be­come the unof­fi­cial ‘‘hub’’ of the com­mu­nity.

Lynfield prin­ci­pal Steve Bo­vaird says all of their en­ergy will now go to­wards set­ting an achieve­ment chal­lenge.

‘‘It could be the achieve­ment level of boys – I see that as a big­gie – or tran­si­tion­ing be­tween schools.’’

Bo­vaird says it is un­for­tu­nate that dis­cus­sions are still be­ing car­ried out with NZEI, the largest ed­u­ca­tion union.

But he would ex­pect that once that is com­plete more pri­mary schools will come on­board with the idea.

‘‘Of course we are go­ing down a plan­ning process now that will suit the cur­rent clus­ter and their views will not have been taken on board so they are miss­ing out on this.’’

Along with the Lynfield com- mu­nity, a to­tal of 83,000 stu­dents will now be part of the ini­tia­tive to lift the qual­ity of learn­ing in class­rooms.

The Auck­land Cen­tral com­mu­nity of schools was one of the first to be es­tab­lished in De­cem­ber 2014 and in­cludes Auck­land Gram­mar, Ep­som Girls Gram­mar, Auck­land Nor­mal In­ter­me­di­ate, Ko­hia Ter­race, Maun­gawhau and Royal Oak schools.

Auck­land Nor­mal In­ter­me­di­ate prin­ci­pal Jill Far­quhar­son says stu­dents in the com­mu­nity will ben­e­fit from a col­lec­tive ap­proach to teach­ing.

‘‘The phi­los­o­phy be­hind it is a learn­ing part­ner­ship,’’ Far­quhar­son says.

‘‘Right from early child­hood through to sec­ondary school we’re able to stream­line this process.’’

The ini­tia­tive, in­clud­ing the lead prin­ci­pal role, is still in the dis­cus­sion stage with school rep­re­sen­ta­tives meet­ing on a regular ba­sis to de­ter­mine how to shape their achieve­ment chal­lenges and goals.

Ep­som Girls’ Gram­mar act­ing prin­ci­pal Karen Smith says con­sis­tency will be a key part of devel­op­ment within the com­mu­nity.

‘‘With testing con­sis­tency, for ex­am­ple, this would mean ev­ery­one has the same prospects when they get to sec­ondary school. All of the com­mu­nity will be work­ing to­wards that.

‘‘If we do af­firm the need to im­prove lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy that would be some­thing we could work on to­gether and change.’’

Min­istry head of sec­tor en­able­ment and sup­port Katrina Casey says there is no pres­sure or dead­lines for the com­mu­ni­ties to meet.

‘‘We ex­pect that time­lines will dif­fer be­tween com­mu­ni­ties as they work through this process.’’

She says the min­istry will play no part in ap­point­ing peo­ple to the lead po­si­tions.

One Tree Hill Col­lege is also part of a com­mu­nity of schools an­nounced in the sec­ond wave.

Photo: ROSE CAW­LEY

Lynfield Col­lege prin­ci­pal Steve Bo­vaird says set­ting the achieve­ment chal­lenge is the next step for the com­mu­nity of schools.

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