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