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Greater Christchurch Schools Network : Reflective Summary Milestone 5

The GCSN team have undertaken a wide range of activities to support learning and teaching in over 90 primary, intermediate and secondary schools.  Many of these schools have been badly affected by the February 22, 2011 earthquake with extensive property damage and continuing stress on staff and students.  The following general conclusions can be made about some of the impact of the wide range of GCSN activities in Christchurch schools.

What did we do? and What was important for us?

Professional learning: increased confidence and capability within the GCSN community in using the advanced network to enhance teaching and learning activities.

The above detail indicates the range of activities of the GCSN team in supporting teaching and learning for over a hundred primary, intermediate and secondary schools.  Many of these schools continue to be affected by the consequences of the 2011 earthquakes and continuing aftershocks.   The following points summarise the major effects of GCSN activities on professional learning in schools in the greater Christchurch area. 

Collaboration

  • Champions meetings
    GCSN has continued to emphasise the role of GCSN champions meetings.  The networking and sharing of expertise during these meetings continue to be energising factors.  In addition, GCSN is assisted through these meeting in addressing identified school needs.  In 2012, these meetings have focused on increasing awareness of the e-Learning Planning Framework (eLPF).  Four highly successful meetings involved 180 teachers.  The value of eLPF is now more widely known and appreciated.
  • Working together in the face of difficulty

In many locations,  schools are more willing to work together. Schools are sharing their realities and thus identifying effective solutions to a variety of aspects of school management.

GCSN is also successfully working with primary schools in the eastern suburbs badly affected by broken infrastructure and population loss following the earthquakes.

  • Video conferencing

GCSN has arranged for eighteen video conference units to be installed in most secondary schools in Christchurch.  It has taken the lead in training teachers in the use of these units.  The use of VC for teacher professional development is increasing.  These developments includes sessions on cyber safety, scholarship mentoring for teachers in calculus and technology, and discussions on  virtual classroom activity and Futureintech ambassadors. One challenge in this process has been the Ministry of Education’s requirement that IP addresses change for the NEN trial schools – a set back where confidence needed to be rebuilt.

The momentum for future VC experiences is building, plans include more Futureintech, Senior student forums and NZ / Australia conferencing.

  • MyPortfolio Professional Development

GCSN arranged for a trainer to spend two weeks visiting schools on site for half or full-day professional development. Thirteen sessions covered 11 schools.  Nearly 150 teachers benefited as a result.  These sessions identified collaborative opportunities and highlighted the need for a good inter-operable ICT infrastructure. (Link to Pascales blog)

 Technical provisions and developments at the schools.

Fostering new and existing relationships with government, local government, business and members of the community to strengthen the cluster.

GCSN continues to play a significant role in meeting this goal.  It has:

○     hosted MOE researchers for the NEN trial by arranging face-to-face meetings; VC sessions and school visits;

○     contributed to N4L consultation / feedback meetings such as the Learning@Schools and Wellington meeting;

○     maintained communication with local and national Ministry of Education staff;

○     contributed to the national digital landscape as N4L is established through submissions to UNESCO and the Parliamentary select committee inquiry into 21st Century learning environments and digital literacy

Strengthening professional learning communities and increase collaboration across the regional cluster schools

GCSN has given priority to establishing learning hubs in two areas of Christchurch.

Pegasus group –   GCSN has consulted with principals to identify the exact nature of the serious problems these schools are confronting in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquakes.  It has:

○     helped prepare a business case

○     secured funding from the Ministry of Education

○     arranged for ICT audits

○     project managed  the installation  of new wireless system with supported internal infrastructure repairs

○     followed up by addressing connectivity issues and and conducting teaching and learning sessions.

Hornby Learning Hub

GCSN has played a leading role in facilitating future learning opportunities within this network of schools.  It has organised a process for making internal infrastructure improvements and brokered a University of Canterbury/ Hornby High School science outreach VC programme and mentoring programme.

Website

As reported in 2011, teachers have used the GCSN website increasingly as the ‘first port of call’ for all information and support available through the by GCSN community. 

What have we learned?

GCSN is fully aware of the value of role modelling effective teaching practices with small groups in the first instance.  Successful experience can then be rolled across larger cluster groups. This method also aligns with the regional development that links into national collaborative approaches.

GCSN values local support people and expertise to ensure prompt resolution and timely solutions to school issues.

GCSN appreciates that the need for schools to balance their infrastructure, services, teaching and learning is essential base for schools development and the importance of longer term planning for schools.  Such planning needs to closely  linked to eLPF.

GCSN has continued to make significant progress in providing  support for schools adapting to new challenges post 2011.  The stress on principals,  teachers,  students and families remains in the face of the uncertainties that schools still face.  The key lesson for GCSN continues to be the requirements of its programmes and goals which focus on real needs including the celebration and sharing of success stories.

What are our next steps?

The next steps for GCSN are to:

●     support schools ability to make global connections and utilise VC opportunities

●     increase shared teaching and learning experiences and resources

●     develop increasing numbers of learning hubs across the greater Christchurch area

GCSN will focus on  building greater levels of cooperation among schools.

GCSN will be planning for a rich VC calendar of events continues for 2012, through guest mentors, connecting to the wealth of opportunities via the VLN and delivering teacher professional development across  the GCSN VC bridge.

 GCSN will continue to emphasise the need for long-term ICT planning and embedding best teaching and learning practices.

 

GCSN  will support schools long-term planning for the future shaping of education in Christchurch.

What are the other issues affecting us?

Without a doubt, the main issues for Christchurch schools involve broken school infrastructures, frozen property funds and building closures.  This is in addition to the national experience of NZ schools awaiting effective infrastructure up grades and improvements to connectivity. This frustrates teachers trying to implement and embed innovative 21st Century learning practices.

Uncertainty resulting  from continuing MOE / CERA educational reviews and restructuring continues to dominate the thinking of many schools.  They want more certainty about where they are going.

As noted in 2011, the plans to rebuild, support and renew Christchurch schools will be an essential part of our  ICTPD regional  cluster programme.