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No school is an island

Interesting times for NZ education in a system that has historically seen self-managing schools sometimes competing for students, limiting possibilities for fostering collaboration. But now we’ll see schools cluster together, where teachers and leaders learn from each other to help drive quality shifts in education.

In Rose Patterson’s (Research Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative) paper 2014 on, No School is an Island: Fostering Collaboration in a Competitive System we can read about some key findings from the Learning and Change Networks that have demonstrated an appropriate balance between structure and freedom (amount of facilitated support, freedom, bureaucracy) so that schools can grow internal capacity and sustainability. It also highlights the importance of:

  1. School-driven/student driven incentives, flexible self learning
  2. Teachers and leaders dedicated to digging deep to ask what needs to change to address that challenge
  3. Partnerships (beyond engaging) with home families/whānau
  4. Skilled facilitators able to adapt to need

There are several stories in Enabling e-Learning (TKI) that exemplify these change priorities, with media stories from schools such as:

  1. Tailoring professional learning to enhance literacy e-learning needs: A blended model
  2. Teaching as inquiry through an e-learning lens
  3. Building connections with parents and whānau 
  4. Māori achieving success as Māori – setting up a framework

In the paper, No School is an Island: Fostering Collaboration in a Competitive System there is a heightened recognition that learning happens everywhere and that parents and whānau are an important part of effecting positive change for students. Collaboration between students, parents and school has a greater influence of impact and trusting relationships between schools and learning communities can enable educators to learn from each other. Another example from Enabling e-Learning also exemplifies this:

Collaboration and PLD across the Katote cluster

The rest of the report delves into the findings from the Learning and Change Networks - history, change priorities, relationships, structure, facilitated support, changing face of PLD and learning networks as well as case studies to exemplify change and some interesting data that points to a significant percentage increase of students achieving ‘at’ or ‘above’ standard between 2012 and 2013.

The report has some valuable recommendations and conclusions for communities of learning and clusters of schools and also touches on the potential of educational networks to cross-pollinate and share our own knowledge and skills within/between and across New Zealand in the wider sense – similar to what we already do here.

How do you see collaboration between educators helping drive effective practice and shifts for students?


More stories of schools collaborating together to effect change can be viewed here:

Image source: public domain images

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