Schools join forces to help teach­ers, pupils

Te Puke Times - - EDUCATION - By STU­ART WHITAKER

news@tepuke­times.co.nz

Te Puke’s schools and its early learn­ing cen­tres are work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively for the good of all learn­ers.

The Com­mu­nity of Learn­ing (COL), Te Kahui Ako o¯ Te Puke, in­volv­ing 11 schools and 22 early learn­ing cen­tres, was cre­ated un­der the pre­vi­ous govern­ment’s In­vest­ing in Ed­u­ca­tional Suc­cess pol­icy.

The think­ing be­hind the COL is to col­lab­o­rate and de­velop teacher knowl­edge and prac­tice across the whole dis­trict.

Te Puke In­ter­me­di­ate School prin­ci­pal Jill Wel­don is the lead prin­ci­pal.

She says last year’s change of govern­ment caused a lit­tle un­cer­tainty, but it now seems the pro­gramme will con­tinue.

“COL is an op­por­tu­nity to look col­lec­tively at what we can all have an im­pact on around the achieve­ment of stu­dents,” says Jill.

The first steps in­volved dis­cov­er­ing what chal­lenges the schools had in com­mon.

“There were the usual things such as maths and writ­ing and there was also the sig­nif­i­cant is­sue with the num­ber of stu­dents who re­quire learn­ing and behaviour sup­port.

“But the fourth chal­lenge was the re­ten­tion of Ma¯ori and Pa­cific Is­land stu­dents be­yond Year 11.”

She says that isn’t sim­ply a high school is­sue, as it could be at any point in their school­ing that they be­come dis­en­gaged in ed­u­ca­tion.

“There’s a col­lec­tive own­er­ship now over the com­mon thread of the dis­par­ity of Ma¯ori achieve­ment com­pared to non Ma¯ori achieve­ment and that trans­lates across to Pa­cific Is­land stu­dent achieve­ment. As ed­u­ca­tors, we are look­ing at how we can bet­ter meet the needs of our learn­ers”.

The next 12 months of the pro­gramme will fo­cus on form­ing strong cul­tural re­la­tion­ships with learn­ers, par­ents, wha¯nau, hapu¯ and iwi.

“It’s about to go to the next level,” says Jill.

Part of that next level is the op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents, teach­ers and fam­ily/wha¯nau to have a say — with an ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise be­tween now and the end of term 2 in July.

“Ev­ery teacher, learner and their wha¯nau gets in­vited to share about their own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence in their cur­rent school, so we can get a pic­ture of the com­mu­nity of 11 schools with each school get­ting an in­di­vid­ual break­down of its own sit­u­a­tion too. Then we will make a plan col­lec­tively to im­prove prac­tice, share ex­per­tise and grow ca­pac­ity across all schools and within in­di­vid­ual schools.”

The sur­vey will be dis­trib­uted over the next few weeks and there will be work­shops to help speak­ers of other lan­guages un­der­stand the sur­vey and some door knock­ing.

“We want to get as rich a se­lec­tion of re­sponses as pos­si­ble.”

An ex­ec­u­tive steer­ing group has been meet­ing for the past 12 months and teach­ers have been ap­pointed to lead roles to work across all schools and within their own school as ex­perts to as­sist their col­leagues to strengthen their prac­tise in bet­ter con­nect­ing with our com­mu­nity.

Four Across School Lead ex­perts have been ap­pointed, Tatai TakuiraMita, Ange Mcal­lis­ter, Robyn Reid and Olivia Parata, and each school has at least one teacher on the lead team.

Te Kahui Ako o¯ Te Puke has en­gaged the Waikato Univer­sity’s Poutama Pounamu team for teacher de­vel­op­ment, with the re­spected and ac­claimed Mere Ber­ry­man lead­ing this team.

All the work un­der­taken with this team is backed by 25 years of re­search in New Zealand from Mere with both Rus­sell Bishop and Sir Ma­son Durie.

“Mere talks about Ma¯ori stu­dents leav­ing Ma¯oridom at the school gate, or hav­ing to in order to achieve in the cur­rent par­a­digm,” says Jill.

Al­ready, con­sul­ta­tion has started with iwi and kauma¯tua.

It is en­vis­aged there will be a year and a half of pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment for teach­ers.

“It’s go­ing to be a marathon, not a sprint — there’s no fast fix.”

Pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment will look at val­ues and be­liefs of teach­ers and where they come from, un­con­scious bias as well as knowl­edge of the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of places, peo­ple and events in the dis­trict.

“Teach­ers need to have an un­der­stand­ing of cul­ture, start­ing with the mean­ing of their school’s name, mana whenua of the land where their school sits and an un­der­stand­ing of what’s im­por­tant here for the wha¯nau of Te Arawa.”

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