About two thirds of children and young people are benefiting from their schools and early childhood education providers working together as Communities of Learning.
I am pleased to announce today that another 13 Communities of Learning have formed, taking the total number of Communities across the country to 210.
Raising achievement levels
More than 580,000 children and young people are now in a Community of Learning. Communities bring together early learning services, primary and secondary schools as well as tertiary providers to work together to raise achievement for all their children and young people.
We are starting to see some really innovative ways of working at all levels in Communities to better support children and young people as they move through the education system.
It is particularly pleasing to see the growing momentum in early learning with nearly 100 more providers joining Communities in just four months.
We now have 279 early learning services working more closely with schools to better support children, particularly with their move to primary school.
The number of tertiary providers has also increased to eight, and across the country there is now a total of 1734 primary and secondary schools involved.
The 13 new Communities of Learning announced today are in Tai Tokerau, Auckland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago.
Given the first Communities only started forming in late 2014 it is phenomenal that so many education providers have embraced this collaborative way of working.
New Zealand has come a long way since the competitive model of Tomorrows Schools was established in 1989.
We now have an education system that is much more focused on the achievement of every child and young person at both a system level and in every school and early learning service.
We have around 1400 teachers and leaders in the new leadership roles sharing best practice both within their own school or early learning provider and across all members of the Community.
100 communities are now working with expert partners to analyse their student data to set achievement challenges and action plans to ensure the success of more and more of their children and young people.
Seeing talented, experienced principals and teachers working with expert partners in this way is what the initiative is all about.
Examples of what Communities of Learning are doing include:
The Lynfield (Auckland) community is using new higher quality student data to set clear achievement challenges for students. Using this data, along with changes to classroom practice, increased student engagement, and more effective teacher parent partnerships, Lynfield has set targets to raise achievement in writing and mathematics, for Mori, Pasifika, boys, and English as Second Language (ESOL) students in particular. Lynfield has aligned all its primary student data by using one student management system. This enables easier transfer of student information as children move between schools and allows the community to develop a joint understanding of student progress.
Blenheims Piritahi Community of Learning is giving their kids the best start to primary school. Twenty-one schools are collaborating with the Marlborough Kindergarten Association to make sure students are academically and emotionally ready to move to school, and to help prepare new entrants to meet the communitys achievement challenges in areas like maths and writing.
Southern Area Schools (Otago Southland) is using digital technologies to bridge the large distances between the schools in this Community. It has a Google community for all the teachers to use to develop strategies and share good practice around raising writing performance. Cohort teacher groups are being set up across the community, based on the age of the students being taught. Each will be coordinated by an educator in one of the new in-school teaching positions. The groups will organise professional learning and development opportunities for staff and collaborate to raise progress and achievement for students using Google community and Google hangouts.
Palmerston North East is using the new across and within school teaching roles to develop more consistent assessments of student ability, and to help teachers become more confident to teach subjects in which they have previously lacked training or experience. It has an across (secondary) school teacher working with 11 primary and intermediate teachers to develop a consistent understanding of students maths progress and achievement across the schools. Another across school teacher is helping improve science teaching for primary teachers, with help from the Ministry of Education and the Royal Society Te Aprangi. The Ministry recently funded 800 hours of science training over two years for teachers in the community.
Alongside targets in areas like writing and maths Te Waka o Mramatanga (Flaxmere) is setting innovative targets to meet the wider needs of its students and their local community. It has targets for improving hauora (health and wellbeing) as part of its action plan. These include improving student fitness and encouraging healthy eating habits for all its students. These plans are being incorporated into teaching and learning in all its schools, as the foundation for improving progress and achievement across the community.
Northern Porirua (Wellington) This Community shows how the Ministry of Education funded Expert Partners are helping communities accelerate their development and define priority areas for lifting their children and young peoples progress and achievement. With the help of their Expert Partner, the nine schools in this community have developed achievement challenges focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). Using their student data, the Expert Partner also worked with these schools to define clear achievement targets for their Pasifika and Mori students.
These examples demonstrate how education practices are changing in New Zealand.
We are seeing increasing interest from other countries about what were doing here and the differences that we hope Communities of Learning will make to not only the quality of education that our children and young people receive but also the opportunities they have to achieve.
Nikki Kaye is Education Minister of New Zealand.
Map of Communities of Learning across New Zealand
Infographics of the 13 new Communities of Learning.