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Greater South Canterbury ICT cluster overview

Reflective Summary VLN Greater South Canterbury Cluster (GSC) whole cluster view.

Background

The Greater South Canterbury cluster is made up of 10 schools with 5 of them being medium size, 200-350 pupils, 3 of which are years 1-8, they are in Timaru city and the other 2 being years 1-6 in rural towns. The other schools are 5 smaller rural schools with rolls varying from 25-80 pupils.

There are 105 teachers across all schools in the cluster.

This gives the cluster a huge variety of settings and challenges when trying to provide appropriate Professional Development.

 

Aim and Purposes

 

Goal 2 principals to lead the integration of e-learning in their school’s (strategic and operational)

 

Success Indicator: A blended, inclusive, active professional learning culture, focused on student achievement through e-learning, is sustained through the systematic process of evidence-based reflection and inquiry.

Teachers/teaching teams mentor and collaborate with others by sharing innovative e-learning understandings and practices within and beyond the school.

 

The cluster has used the elearning Planning framework (eLPF) this year to shape our aims and purposes.

During the first two years of the contract the focus was on teacher capability and distributed leadership. This was to enable greater participation and engagement of pupils in all schools and to challenge teacher’s pedagogical philosophies.

During this third year of the ICT contract the cluster has moved to provide more autonomy to schools whereby they have taken up the challenge to pursue various topics that are eLearning based.

This fits clearly with goal 2 see above, where we are trying to build sustainability and further leadership opportunities within and across the cluster.

 

Method, Interactions and actions

 

After the second year of the GSC cluster contract schools were finding they needed to branch out to meet their professional needs of both the teachers and the school.

We organised a planning day in November 2011 to brainstorm what the emerging needs were and how we could continue to build our sustainable ICT community. We had our CORE facilitator attend and give a presentation on the eLPF framework and this was adopted as our framework along with a selection of the goals we wanted to achieve across the cluster.

As a result of our brainstorm there were 4 different areas that were mostly aligned with the links to elearning and a small schools group. These groups were given the following names:

 

Learning Management Systems

Discovery Learning

Inquiry Learning

Touch Technology

Small Schools

 

Our actions form this point was to submit our contract variation with these goals and success indicators and this was approved by the MOE.

We have not employed any outside facilitators and all the funding in this area has been allocated to the lead schools.

 

Summary of Key Results

 

Schools have been able to pursue the areas they were most interested in developing for their learners in their school.

We now have 4 schools with expertise in these areas. They have been holding seminars on the initiatives undertaken. This has built sustainability round these areas. Schools can opt into any initiative at any time, when they are ready. This is an extremely important as we can’t do everything at the same time and we are all at different stages. We have built in at least another 3 years worth of sharing over the cluster and across the other schools in South Canterbury as is already shown by the number of other schools attending our various seminars.

The small schools initiative has enabled them to get together and share expertise, support each other through their own difficulties without feeling they are on there own and unsupported.

This is differentiated learning across all levels, children, teachers and schools. We have been building learning communities.

 

Student learning engagement has been the key ingredient during all schools ICT initiatives and we have observed this engagement increasing when ICT tools are utilized. For all our priority learners the effect is even more evident. These are our Maori and Pasifika, Special Needs and Gifted and Talented students. This type of supported learning is removing many of the barriers for these students.

 

Reflections

This project had the potential to become disjointed and our goals not being achieved, if any one of the following conditions were not meet.

  • All participants need to be fully committed.
  • There was a clear structure but with plenty of scope for change.
  • Participants attend meetings.
  • You need enthusiastic people.
  • Our investment in leadership the previous two years built a strong foundation of leaders across the cluster.
  • Sharing of expertise within and across schools.
  • We built an atmosphere of trust, which enables collaboration and co-operation.