Ōtūmoetai Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako ( CoL)
Kia ora Koutou,
Since the last update you received from me as the Lead principal for the Ōtūmoetai Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako we have continued to move from the establishment phase to working with teachers and students across and within our nine schools.
What we are doing and why
Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako are primarily about raising student achievement, encouraging a more joined-up, collaborative approach to education. They are about improving student progress, achievement and well-being throughout the learner pathway from Early Childhood Education to Tertiary Education. The development of Communities of Learning/ Kāhui Ako are a transformational change within the New Zealand education system and there are a number forming in Tauranga and surrounds.
The responsibility for governance of our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako rests with the nine schools’ Boards of trustees collectively. For practical purposes a steering committee has been delegated the task of establishing and overseeing our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako.
Representatives on this committee are principals and / or senior leaders from each member school, Iwi partners, 2 x Early Childhood Education (ECE) reps and Ministry of Education advisors. Boards of Trustees Chairs have participated in the past and are welcome at all meetings of this committee.
Our Achievement Challenges
STUDENT WELL-BEING / WHOLE CHILD (over riding focus for CoL)
ORAL LANGUAGE (English) / KŌRERO (priority focus in the ECE to Year 3 area of our CoL)
KŌRERO TE REO MĀORI (priority for Maori medium classes and Te Wharekura o Mauao and an area for development in mainstream classes.)
READING / PĀNUI (One of our challenges which goes hand in hand with writing)
WRITING / TUHITUHI (Priority focus in the year 4 to year 13 areas of the CoL.)
PRIORITY LEARNERS (These are students with learning support needs and Maori boys in particular.)
We have appointed six across-school teachers whose role is to develop greater collaboration and assist teachers to build on their teaching practice across our nine schools.
As lead principal, I have been meeting with these across-school teachers and they are actively working across the Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako. Their first task was to get to know the schools in their area of work and the staff they would be working with. They are now moving into a stronger collaborative leadership role across our schools and early childhood centres.
Each school was given the responsibility to appoint their within-school teachers and we have 35 of these teachers working in our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako. Their roles have been defined by each school and are based on specific school needs in meeting our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako achievement goals.
A continuing development in our CoL is the involvement of our Early Childhood Centres and Kohunga Reo. Our 37 local ECE’s have come together and are committed to working with our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako. They have elected two representatives who participate in our steering committee meetings.
We are also developing closer relationships with our Marae based Kohunga Reo.
The ECE’s don’t get any funding from the Ministry of Education to join our CoL, however we have been able to provide their teachers with opportunities to join with us in professional development they may not normally access.
Transition is important as children move from ECE to primary school so this is a major focus as well as the acquisition of oral language in the junior area of our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako
Our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako is committed to forming enduring partnerships with our Tauranga Moana Iwi.
Marina Kawe-Peautolu representing Ngati Ranginui Iwi, has been a member of our steering committee since its inception and she has been joined by Ngareta Timutimu representing Ngaiterangi Iwi.
As our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako develops and builds on collaborative practice between our schools and between teachers in our schools, we recognise and acknowledge the importance of forming close and meaningful relationships with our whanau and Tauranga Moana iwi.
New Learning Support framework Co-construction and Trial
Our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako has been asked by the Ministry of Education to assist in the development of a new framework for Learning Support. This replaces what used to be known as Special Education and the intent is to create a new streamlined system for parents and schools to access support for students with Learning Support needs.
We have combined with the Whakatane and Taupo Communities of Learning/ Kāhui Ako in co-constructing and trialling a new system for referrals and support.
Theresa Rosborough, Deputy Principal at Pillans Point School has been selected to represent the three Communities of Learning/ Kāhui Ako as an experienced practitioner who understands the needs and frustrations of students, their parents and schools in accessing the right support for students with additional needs.
She has been seconded to work with the Ministry of Education, school SENCOs and Learning support service providers to assist with the formation of a new system.
A number of consultative meetings were held last term including a parent consultative meeting held at Otumoetai Intermediate School. Over 180 parents came along to find out what is proposed and provided feedback from a parent and whanau point of view.
Here is the latest update from Theresa on how the Learning Support Trial is going:
The new Learning Support system is focused on modernising and improving learning support so that it’s easier to access, flexible, child-focused and better connected with the wider education and social sectors.
It’s about making sure that schools, Communities of Learning, the Ministry of Education, RTLB and Learning Support service providers work together seamlessly to ensure children and young people get the right support when they need it.
Together with Communities of Learning in Taupo and Whakatane, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to be involved in testing elements of the new system, to better support our children and young people.
Earlier this year, we met with 100 parents from Ōtūmoetai who provided us with feedback on the proposed system for learning support. Using this feedback, and feedback provided from additional meetings with parents from Whakatane and Taupo, we developed and began testing these key elements:
- a learning support facilitator in each Community of Learning who will provide an initial point of access, coordination and ongoing oversight
- pooling learning support resources and services within each Community of Learning
- collecting individual student data related to learning support and achievement
Developing these elements has taken longer than expected, however sharing information, improving collaboration and building our understanding of how learning support works on the ground, has meant we have a more solid basis for embedding an effective learning support system.
Over seven weeks of testing in the Bay of Plenty – Waiariki region, approximately 180 new requests for support have been managed using Learning Support Facilitation
The Learning Support Facilitator within the Community of Learning is designed as a support and facilitation role. There is a strong preference for this role to be someone known to the Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako and who has built up a knowledge about our schools, community and families / whanau.
Learning from the Bay of Plenty – Waiariki region shows there is the ability to get faster responses that are broader in range to meet the needs of children and young people.
Responses are beyond the one-to-one referral to services and are more flexible than the way Special Education has worked in the past.
The view of Learning Support needs across the Communities of Learning is developing and shows that there will be an ability to be more proactive and plan ahead.
Early Childhood Education (ECE) centres in the localities have been active participants in testing since it started.
By having a dedicated person working with ECE, has demonstrated that effective links can be made between centres and Communities of Learning.
Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako working groups
Our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako is organised into four broad levels and led by learning mentors nominated by and drawn from the nine schools in our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako.
The learning mentors are deputy principals and senior leaders in their own school whose role is to mentor and give advice and guidance to our new across-school and within-school teachers. We have a combination of learning mentors and across-school teachers in each of the following levels and working groups:
ECE through Year 1 to Year 3, Year 4 to Year 6, Year 7 and Year 8, Year 9 to Year 13.
The across-school teachers have been meeting with their learning mentors and myself as lead principal to develop action plans for collaborative practice across our nine schools.
The focus for the ECE to Year 3 area is the development of oral language and good progress is being made in linking ECEs with our teachers in years 1 to 3.
The focus for Years 4 to 6, Years 7 and 8 and Years 9 to 13 is writing. The learning mentors in these areas have brought together student data from across the Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako and are now developing actions for building teacher capacity in specific areas of writing using the Learning Progressions as a basis.
We are starting to see collaborative practice within each level, across the levels and between English and Maori Medium schools and classes.
Teachers in each school can expect to become more involved as the across-school teachers make contact with them and start leading collaborative practice across our collective schools.
At this stage the within-school teachers have been tasked with coming to grips with their roles and developing leadership of collaborative practice in their own schools.
The intent is to have all teachers and school leaders working collaboratively within and across our schools in partnership with our key stakeholders: parents and students in lifting student achievement in the achievement challenges above.
Professional development for teachers
A lot of professional development is happening within and across our schools in oral language, writing, and mathematics. Our schools have begun to work together in delivering professional development to all teachers in our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako and we are seeing the benefit of collaboration and the sharing ideas between teachers as they meet and work with colleagues from other schools in our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako.
Student well being / hauora as an overall focus
Now we are up and running in the collaboration between schools, we are turning our attention to student well-being as an overall focus. This includes the students’ self-efficacy, sense of belonging, valuing each student’s culture, attendance at school, engagement with their learning, having a growth mind-set and emotional resilience.
We are looking to create a snap shot of how we are doing so far as schools in our Community of Learning/ Kāhui Ako. This will be done next term by surveying students, parents and teachers using a survey developed by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research.
From this survey we will be able to identify what needs to be done to strengthen our students’ well-being as a precursor to success in their learning.
Nga mihi nui,
Otumoetai Community of Learning