Republished with the kind permission of stuff.co.nz – Zizi Sparks.
Learning and education starts before primary school.
That’s the stance one formalised cluster of schools has taken by incorporating kindergartens.
The newly formed Kaipatiki Community of Learning comprises 12 schools on Auckland’s North Shore, including three kindergartens, one high school, one intermediate and six primary schools, plus an all-ages special school.
More than 3000 students are included in the community, which was formalised by the Ministry of Education in March.
Glenfield Intermediate principal and community of learning lead principal Mark Whitford said the schools have always had a close and collaborative relationship, this has just solidified it.
Whitford said the schools sat down last year to look at student achievement data, and trends within that data, before identifying areas they wanted to focus on.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to achieve is a seamless pathway for our tamariki from early childhood education to secondary education,” Whitford said.
“That’s also for parents as they navigate the education landscape.”
The decision to include kindergartens was made when the teachers identified a need to improve oracy skills in pupils starting school.
“It starts with them. It starts before school,” Whitford said.
He said, if the education providers can focus on specific goals from day one, it will carry over throughout their journey through education.
The schools also want to lift achievement in reading, writing and maths, and will work across schools to achieve that.
Having a community of learning formalised by the Ministry of Education also means specific funding, Whitford said.
That means some teachers are appointed to roles which allow them to work across schools, so others can draw on their skills, knowledge and experience and there is also room for professional development.
“Sharing expertise across the community of schools is hugely advantageous because we’ve got many amazing teachers who can have impact across the whole community,” Whitford said.
He said an important part of a community of learning is its flexibility.
They hope to one day include more kindergartens in the community, as well as tertiary institutions.
“We can modify and adapt if the cohort changes … It’s flexible to meet the needs of a changing community,” he said.
“It’s all about the kids, the tamariki. We’re doing everything in our power to focus on these kids.”
Establishing communities of learning is part of the Government’s Investing in Educational Success initiative, which is aimed at lifting student achievement while providing new career opportunities for staff. It’s also focused on strengthening collaboration between education providers.
The Kaipatiki Community of Learning includes Bayview, Glenfield and Marlborough Kindergartens, Bayview School, Glenfield Primary, Manuka Primary, Marlborough Primary, Target Road School, Windy Ridge School, Glenfield Intermediate, Glenfield College and Wairau Valley Special School.
There are seven other communities of learning on the North Shore.
-Original publication: Stuff, Zizi Sparks