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About Learning and Change Networks: Revision

About Learning and Change Networks

Last updated by Rene Burton

Learning and Change Networks are a new way of working for New Zealand students, their families, schools and communities.

The Ministry of Education established the strategy at the end of 2012 as a partnership between network leaders, a provider team and the Ministry of Education to establish up to 60 networks across the country to:

  • Accelerate achievement among priority learner groups.
  • Increase sector leader capability in collective improvement.
  • Bring together schooling improvement, blended learning pedagogies and cultural responsiveness.
 
 

How it works


  • Schools and kura form networks with a common interest and willingness to work together with their families and communities on either a self identified or Ministry of Education identified common interest.
  • Active network members include students, teachers, school/community/business leaders and families.
  • Network members analyse the current situation surrounding an achievement challenge to identify change priorities. An important part of that analysis is for participants to celebrate one another’s practices and theories-of-action contributing to success stories. They also have to figure out together what to change within, between and across schools, kura, families and communities where success is still out of reach.
  • Success stories from the strategy will inform national policy about how schools and communities can collectively turn around achievement challenges.
 
What is ‘lateral learning and change’?

Lateral learning and change is about people with common interests learning from one another and making changes that improve what they think and do. Knowledge has authority in deciding what and how to do things, not positions in a hierarchy.

Here is a narrative explanation: “A young Maori boy eating his breakfast at the kitchen table reads some feedback about a story he has written from a friend in Bangladesh, a professor in England who follows his writing online and his nana. He laughs and tells his mum nana’s comment about the funny endings to his stories and she laughs because she agrees with nana. He closes his netbook, kisses his mum goodbye and races off to school with a sparkle in his eye thinking about how he and his mates will answer the question from the professor in England.”

This young boy is fortunate to be in a school and community that embraces the idea that people both young and old are forming a variety of lateral network arrangements to learn and change what they think and do. He, his teachers, school leaders and family have not thrown away the idea that high quality teaching is important because it is. What they realised together was that he loves learning so much more when he can work with supportive adults to integrate ideas that interest him in his day-to-day life with ideas he has to learn from the curriculum in school.

 

Facilitation for networks


After the Ministry of Education sign-up a network to the programme, facilitators support the leaders through three phases of development. The three phases are designed to grow a repertoire of learning and change capabilities for addressing achievement challenges.

  • Phase one grows ‘understanding’ around achievement challenge and profiles change priorities. It concentrates on students, teachers, leaders and families completing an ecological analysis, which draws out ideas for change that are hard to see.
  • Phase two ‘implementation’ is about students, teachers, leaders and families making the changes. Those groups take personal responsibility for making changes to their practices and theories-of-action and checking for impact.
  • Phase three ‘sustainability’ aims to embed the new practices and theories-of-action into everyday life and make sure old less effective practices and theories do not come back.