Educators identify ‘challenges’
South Otago educators are working together to raise student achievement in literacy and numeracy.
Formed six months ago, the Big River Cluster Ka¯hui Ako Community of Learning, met in Balclutha this week to identify education achievement ‘‘challenges’’, in the areas of writing, mathematics, science and National Certificate of Educational Achievement - NCEA.
About 100 teachers, along with principals, from the secondary, primary and early childhood sectors, were involved in the two-day workshop held in the last few days of the school holidays, at the South Otago Town and Country Club, at Balclutha. They came from South Otago High School, Rosebank, Clutha Valley, Kaitangata, Clinton Romahapa, Warepa, St Joseph’s, Wairewa South, Stirling and Tahakopa primary schools, and all the district’s kindergartens and early childhood centres.
National Standards data findings show schools where they could be doing better, Big River Cluster Ka¯hui Ako executive leader and Balclutha Primary School principal Paddy Ford, said.
In Ma¯ori pupils’ achievement, the data shows that in writing, of the 156 Ma¯ori students across the cohort, 38 of them (24.4 per cent) are below expected levels, and in mathematics, 23 (15 per cent) are below or well below the standard.
In writing, of the cluster’s 902 students, about 25 per cent were below the standard. More specifically, in boys’ writing, a third of the cohort fell below the standard.
Mathematics is targeted as critical to lift achievement level in science, from primary to NCEA level. In maths years 6, 7 and 8, data indicates that of the 332 students, 23 per cent are below the National Standards.
Getting more NCEA students to level three was also one of the cluster’s objectives.
It had taken two years of discussion to get to this point, and the group had a plan for the next two years going forward, Ford said.
The cluster had employment two ‘‘across school’’ teachers to work two days a week, and more plans were afoot to raise student achievement.
‘‘This term we will appoint 10 ‘within school’ teachers who are released for two hours a week to work on the challenges,’’ Ford said. ‘‘The idea is to share expertise that we have within our own district.’’
These teachers would be funded by the Ministry of Education, to develop teaching skills.
Milton and the Clutha District area schools had formed their own learning clusters.
Auckland-based professional development company Vision Education has been contracted by the ministry to facilitate the Big River cluster’s aims and objectives.
Vision Education director Dr Alison Davis, who attended the Balclutha workshops, said clusters were all about teacher collaboration, and identifying areas of need, for instance writing, which covered anything from handwriting to computer-writing.
‘‘It doesn’t matter where that child is, so long as they’re being supported because of a collective knowledge of learning.’’
Fairfax reporter won the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award at the guild’s awards dinner in Wellington last night. This award was established by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators and is designed to acknowledge and recognise the work of journalists who have been specialising in agricultural journalism for three years or less, even if they have been in journalism for a number of years. Pickett has been writing for the Otago Southland Farmer based in Invercargill since May last year.
Mirror Lakes shrinking?
The Department of Conservation has received reports that the Mirror Lakes on the Milford Road may be shrinking as the plant life on the edge of the lakes grows. DOC Te Anau operations manager Greg Lind said the department had been told the growing plantlife had reduced the size of the lakes but those reports had not been confirmed by rangers. If the plantlife was encroaching the department could look at cutting it back but it would not be done until the end of the busy tourism season next year, Lind said.
Rural Women finalists
Two Southland women have been named as finalists for the 2017 Enterprising Rural Women Awards. Kylie Davidson and Emma Hammond, of Riversdale, set up a chartered accounting business, Hammond Davidson Ltd, in 2011. Most of their clients are farmers, farming support businesses or contractors in the farming sector. The company is an all-female workplace.
Award for shearing champs
The World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill was named Best International Event at the New Zealand Events Association Awards in Auckland on Wednesday. The ILT Stadium where the shearing event was held, was named Best Industry Supplier for an Event. About 13 awards were presented on the night. Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman and former multiple world champion Sir David Fagan was present on the night.
Civic Theatre open day
The Civic Theatre in Invercargill will be open to the public from 10am to 4pm tomorrow for a behind-thescenes look. The open day will include a showcase of Brides by Donna Rae wedding dresses, catering and a photo booth. Visitors will be able to get a guided tour.
Gore house fire
Firefighters were called to a house fire in Gore about 1.15pm on Thursday. A fire communications spokesman said when firefighters arrived at the Pamona St house, the fire was well involved. Five fire engines were there. No-one was hurt. Firefighters left about 3pm and a fire investigator was at the scene later that day, the spokesman said. He was unsure if the fire was being treated as suspicious.
Firefighters responding to a fire in a light switch was not at the Global Byte Cafe on Dee St as reported in The Southland Times on Thursday. The error is regretted.