EDUCATION REVIEW series
Part of the
Leadership & Professional Development
2016 / www.educationreview.co.nz / $10.95
Pursuing the path to principalship The sequel to deciles
Religious Instruction Under Scrutiny
Special PD focus blended learning qualifications School Vision MOOCs and more
Board elections what will they mean for your school?
Part of the series:
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Jobs, Education, Training
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theatre! Like doing acting, also workin g artists and designe with rs. If this was an ideal world in a regular day, I’d have a studio and work on pieces of theatre or artwor I’d or designs and ks then collaborate with people and then sell those works and make money. – aMY
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of the recipes featured serve If you look around at a lot of blogs, many one, that can be a lot of food, four or more. When you are cooking for share single dish meals here so especially if it does not last long. I try to wasted leftovers. When I cook that you can cook for one and not have meal prep, I plan on eating that a meal that is multiple servings during I grill chicken, I may grill a if So, week. the multiple times throughout the week. That way my handful of pieces to have for dinners throughout need to do is pull out my meal cooking for that meal is done and all I from the fridge, reheat it, and I am set.
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to buy love to isstudy animal behaviour My best tip for shopping on a budget in the very wild. a bit is still possible and in bulkdifferen t from knowother. you may only be buying for one, buying I in bulk since Ieach – Georbuy nonbudget-friendly. I don’t buy fruits or vegetables they go bad, but I GIa won’t get through enough of them before oats, nut butter, frozen meat, perishables in bulk. Think old fashioned kernels. Those are foods I quinoa, rice, dried or canned beans, popcorn budget-friendly and they will last always buy in bulk since it is much more my dream career quite a while. be something where would I meet new people daily and learn new things while workin g. It would most likely be something to do with laws and the economy as these are my interests motivated to work! and would keep me – JoSH
I started shopping for groceries I actually didn’t believe in this tip until vegetables in season really are on20my own and realised that fruits and they also last much longer than cheaper. Not only are they cheaper, but too. I buy a lot more fresh when they’re not in season and taste better season and I get creative with berries in the summer since they’re in much as I can to take advantage recipes to add them into my meals as of it.
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/ ntator. the averag Glen waking Laurenson hase day been would include up in a nice wee hotel, going downst and beaten-up getting a contine vehicles restoring airs pre-match researc ntal breakfast, doing some h, tweets to their previous states for ok posts, and Facebo making my to the venue of the ground, intervie mostwingofway his adult life. players /coach
es, commentating match, and sharing the a the game. – MaTT beer with the players after
orking as a panel beater at his Wellington shop, 52-year-old Glen is proud of the service he can offer his customers. He has been in the game for a while now and has seen his fair share of change in the industry. “Repairing stuff is a skill that’s almost gone. A lot of stuff is getting replaced, whereas, when I was taught, you had to repair everything. Now they have to replace everything, even if it’s minor damage. ” That doesn’t mean that the skill in the job is lost, though. Glen emphasises that the millimetre-perfect measurements that need to be made require great practice and effort. There are a lot more intricacies to panel beating than many would think. “The hardest part is getting the dimensions of a car absolutely perfect, especially when it’s smashed. There’s no room for being even a millimetre out because of the way they’re built. If you’re a builder you might get away with three or four millimetres out but in this industry you can’t; it’s got to be absolutely perfect otherwise it won’t operate properly and [the I keep changing my components] will be out of touch.” I think my dream mind!! This is made increasingly hard by thecareer everwould be an interna developing car market as well as the widetional environ lawyer variety of motor vehicles thatmental come into Glen’s who goes the uN shop. New cars are made to each year climate and change conference and obviously, with that, comes new bodyworld kits that conferences to help summit need to be learnt. Tied in with the range create of a protoco everyone will objects that need fixing suchl that as campervans, sign up to, becaus ambulances, boats and trailers, it all gets a bitto e I want make much of a difference intense just trying to keepas up. as I can becaus Metalwork, woodwork and mathse it’s (thea scary though that we aren’t measuring/angles side of tthe subject) from currently doing Glen’s time at Tawa College have much been what about the global warming thatskills really helped him in the industry. The destroying our globe, is literally required to make the measurements he and will ruinprecise so many things for all the makes on an everyday were all taught in futurebasis generations! – FINeL these classes. La Glen discovered his passion for this type of work throughout school and went into panel
beating with a bit of encouragement from his family. “I was going to do marine engineering but then I ended up doing panel beating because it was a family business, and also because I wanted to work with my hands.” Since then, Glen has been dealing with all sorts of cars that once looked destined for the tip, turning them into vehicles that look like they’re straight out of the car dealer’s showroom. While Glen is passionate about his profession and encourages young New Zealanders to join him in the panel beating industry, he also suggests spray painting as a wise option. But if you have an eye for detail while also being fit and strong, then panel beating may well be the job for you.
The hardest part is getting “theabsolutel dimensions of a car y perfect, especially when it’s smashed.”
The 2017 edition is out May 2016. life afTer school The essenTial guide To
We NeelDk “What Is your dream TA TO EaSy quIck aNd O b A uT… tiPs
Keep a look out for copies for your senior secondary students. See us at the career expos. Visit us at www.jetmag.co.nz to find out more.
Go to www.educationreview.co.nz Education Review’s print edition is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to in-depth coverage of education in New Zealand.
Exciting and inclusive PD I recently attended a professional development day at my children’s school. The invitation was extended to parents and the board of trustees to join staff for a day of discussing and redefining the school’s vision, led by Core Education’s Jo Wilson. It was great to be involved. I care deeply about the school, particularly as my children become more and more entrenched in school life. My involvement with the school has extended beyond the daily drop-off ritual in the new entrants’ room to now coaching sports teams, manning sausage sizzles to raise money for school camps and being ‘parent help’ on school activities. So to have the chance to participate in the nittygritty of defining the school’s vision and values was very rewarding. The parents who attended were thanked over and over again for making the effort to come along – but in truth, I felt grateful towards the school for making us feel part of the school’s strategic direction. Professional development is more than just a box-ticking exercise, a requirement to be met. Extending such opportunities to the wider school community allows teachers an insight into the parents’ ideas, aspirations and concerns – and also helps parents to feel more engaged with the school. One of the most exciting new PD opportunities at the moment is the #edchatNZ MOOC, a free online course that kicked off on Anzac Day. Like the school visioning exercise, parents and board of trustees members are encouraged to participate. The fast-looming triennial board of trustees elections give pause for schools to think about their strategic directions and their relationships with their wider communities. The role of school boards has changed over time and continues to evolve. In this issue we look at what the upcoming elections mean for schools in terms of governance, management and transition. We’ve also showcased a variety of different professional development options to highlight the diversity and scope of opportunities out there for educators. As the MOOC shows, there really aren’t any limits to what can be achieved. Editor, Jude Barback CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Bruce Ashton, Simon Beames, Jaylan Boyle, Mike Brown, Curtis Gaylor, Tracey Gurney, Ursula Inta, Amber Joseph, Gabrielle Mills, Tina Muller, Danielle Myburgh, Danny Nicholls, Jan Robertson, Elaine Shuck, Iain Taylor, Jill Tanner-Lloyd, Jo Wilson
Education Review is distributed to key decision makers in the education sector and its distribution is audited by New Zealand Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC). Distribution: 6450
Go to www.educationreview.co.nz for web-exclusive content, including thought-provoking opinion articles from sector leaders.
EDUCATION REVIEW series
INside: 2 Religious INSTRUCTION
Values and beliefs
6 Board elections
Election time looms for school boards
8 School Funding
The sequel to deciles
Principal Focus The path to principalship
A matter of principal
Learning leadership for principalship
Reflections of a first-time principal
16 Tertiary Leadership
Creating Pacifika leaders of tomorrow
18 Mentoring Students
A dose of reality: linking students with successful Kiwi mentors
19 Teaching abroad
Kiwi teachers take on the world
21 Student Leadership
What does being a student leader really mean?
spotlight on pd PD for tertiary teachers: yes please!
Enacting school vision – are we walking the talk?
A positive education for all?
Engaging learners in a blended learning environment
What if we didn’t do it alone?
Learning today for tomorrow’s world
29 Catholic schools 30 Research 31 eotc
Catholic primary schools look to the future
Adventurous learning – inside and outside the classroom
Beyond the classroom – environmental education
32 relief teaching
Waiting for the phone call: observations of a relieving teacher
Editor Jude Barback 07 575 8493 email@example.com Advertising Belle Hanrahan 04 915 9783 firstname.lastname@example.org production Aaron Morey Subscriptions Gunvor Carlson 04 915 9780 images iStock
&Leadership Professional Development
NZME. Educational Media, Level 2, NZME. House, 190 Taranaki Street, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
Vol 7 Issue 2
PO Box 200, Wellington 6140 Tel: 04 915 9780 © 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. ISSN: 1173-8014
Errors and omissions: Whilst the publishers have attempted to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information, no responsibility can be accepted by the publishers for any errors or omissions.
Education Review series
Leadership & PD 2016 1
Values and beliefs
eff McClintock and his partner Lisa enrolled their daughter Violet at Red Beach School, a state primary school much like any other, back in 2010. Violet’s new school, though, is one of the roughly 40 per cent of state primary schools that offer religious instruction classes. For ‘religious’, read ‘Christian’ – Jeff says that a colleague contacted every single state primary in the country, and found no more than a few that ran non-Christian religious instruction programmes. The legal status of religious instruction classes in state primary schools is enshrined across three sections of the Education Act 1964. Religious instruction classes are generally run by volunteers from organisations affiliated with a particular faith, who are invited to do so by a school. Section 78 of the Act states: “any class or classes at the school, or the school as a whole, may be closed at any time or times of the school day [for religious instruction]...” Religious instruction classes cannot exceed more than 60 minutes per week, or 20 hours in a school year. Section 79 of the Act though makes clear that nobody can be forced to take part: “No pupil enrolled at a State primary school shall be required to attend or take part in any such instruction or observances if any parent or guardian of the pupil does not wish the pupil to take part…” This means that schools can run an ‘opt-in’, or ‘opt-out’ system, but the wishes of parents who don’t require religious instruction for their children must be respected. As the name suggests, a typical Christian religious instruction class might involve Bible stories, songs of praise, and in many cases, religious observance such as prayer. The problem for the McClintock household, however, came up because the couple say they weren’t made aware that there was any religious instruction at Red Beach School to opt out of, and even when they did follow procedure, Jeff McClintock says their wishes were repeatedly ignored. “I was surprised to find my daughter coming home and talking about [religious themes], because I hadn’t heard of religious instruction, and I certainly wasn’t aware that Red Beach School ran religious instruction classes. When I looked into it, the teacher told my partner Lisa, ‘Oh, that must be the values class’. At that point I realised that what in many schools goes under the name ‘Bible in Schools’, Red Beach School ran as a programme called ‘Values in Action’.” The point needs clarification: the McClintocks aren’t claiming they weren’t asked whether they wanted Violet to be part of ‘Values in Action’, but the wording doesn’t meet the standard of transparency to which parents have a right, says Jeff McClintock.
2 Leadership & PD 2016
Education Review series
JAYLAN BOYLE dissects the ongoing debate over religious instruction, and whether it still has a place in New Zealand’s state schools.
They felt that the Board of Trustees should change their approach in order to prevent future confusion. McClintock discovered that a 2008 Red Beach School ERO report unambiguously agreed with him. The report states: “The board should improve current practice by clarifying the weekly ‘Values in Action’ programme. Despite reassurance to parents that the programme is not ‘religious instruction’, the Education Act requires the school to be closed for instruction during these times while volunteers deliver a Bible-based values classroom programme. Information to parents should more clearly identify options for withdrawing children from these programmes.” Red Beach School’s Board of Trustees spokesperson was unavailable for comment. From there, says McClintock, his efforts to hold Red Beach School to the ERO recommendations were met with what could be described as either a strikingly coincidental series of administrative errors or a wilful disregard for the wishes of the McClintock family. According to McClintock, even after procedure was duly followed Violet was repeatedly put back into the Values in Action class. Complaints to the Board of Trustees escalated to complaints to local, then national media. In May of last year McClintock took his case all the way to the High Court. That should have given the opposing parties a chance to square up and have their say; but
in a further twist to the story, Jeff’s case was ‘struck out’ on a technicality in mid-April this year: submissions hadn’t been received by the court in time. That doesn’t imply any kind of verdict in the case however, and Jeff’s lawyers have lodged an appeal that is, at time of publication, yet to be heard.
It became clear early in the piece that McClintock’s ‘crusade’ could have far-reaching implications; in January of this year the High Court began hearing applications from interested parties seeking to join proceedings. One of those approved by the Court to weigh in was the Churches Education Commission (CEC). The CEC is the largest organisation in New Zealand running what’s traditionally been known as ‘Bible in schools’, which they now term ‘Christian Religious Education’, or CRE. They maintain their own evolving curriculum and train religious instruction volunteers. The CEC delivers their programme to approximately 650 state primary schools. It is apparent after a visit to the CEC website or after talking to one of its representatives that one word in particular describes how the CEC would like to be understood: values. CEC spokesperson Tracy Kirkley reinforces her organisation’s emphasis on the system of ethics
and moral guidance that go hand-in-hand with Christian beliefs. Both are taught in CRE lessons, but it’s important to bear in mind that they are always there by mandate, she says. “We have prepared our own curriculum, which is very Kiwi-based. We line it up with what’s being taught in schools in terms of values. The Bible is the resource we draw from. We connect those [Bible stories] back to the children through valuesbased lesson time. “We’re there by invitation, and we feel very privileged that we have been given that opportunity. We will always fit in with what works best for a school, in terms of how they choose to fit [religious instruction lessons] into their school time.” When asked why she believes religious instruction should be in secular schools, Kirkley says that the CEC is helping to reflect values and beliefs that are part of New Zealand’s heritage. She says that society benefits when children are made aware of this aspect of New Zealand’s history, and that weight of numbers is its own justification. “I think that there are a number of needs that get met [through CRE]. Christianity is still predominantly, by a very large proportion, the faith representation of New Zealanders: 48 per cent of Kiwis call themselves Christian. The next largest faith group is Hindu at two per cent. Everything else is one per cent or less. That means that there’s a significant chunk of New Zealand that still hold to these [Christian] values.” It’s important to state clearly that in no way should the CEC be directly associated with the now defunct case involving Jeff McClintock and Red Beach School: the CEC is not a provider to Red Beach School, which, according to McClintock, runs its own bespoke programme. The CEC was simply invited, as an interested party, to join the case and bring evidence when required.
Another ‘interested party’ who joined the High Court case – though without permission to bring new evidence – was David Hines of the Secular Education Network (SEN). The mission statement of the SEN, explains Hines, is fairly simple; they seek to “get rid of religious bias in state schools”. However it’s branded, Hines and the SEN see religious instruction classes as the nub of this perceived bias. As such, Hines opposes the main arguments that Kirkley and the CEC put forward to support their presence in secular state schools: that they’re mandated by invitation; that they emphasise values; and that New Zealand society was founded on Christian values that reflect our history and the beliefs of a large majority of its citizens. “Well, that’s not even true,” says Hines. “Christian values are a part of it, but atheist values, sceptical values, Jewish values, Buddhist, and Māori values are all part of it as well. New Zealand had lots of values before Europeans even came on the scene.” What about the CEC’s contention that religious instruction in schools reflects the wishes of the vast majority of New Zealanders?
We’re there by invitation, and we feel very privileged that we have been given that opportunity. We will always fit in with what works best for a school, in terms of how they choose to fit [religious instruction lessons] into their school time.” “They haven’t read the census – the next largest group was 42 per cent non-religious.” It may be surprising to learn, given Hines’s vociferous support for state school secularisation, that he professes to be a ‘Christian atheist’ and actively participates in religious celebration of the same ‘values’ that Kirkley and the CEC say they are bringing to schools. “[Being a Christian atheist] means that I believe Jesus was an ethical teacher. I don’t follow the ‘supernatural’ side of Christianity.” While this might seem somewhat contradictory – how can one be an active member of a faith group, and yet deny what appears to be the defining tenet of most, if not all faith groups: that God exists, influences our lives, and calls on us to believe in ‘Him’? – Hines says it’s about ‘worshipping’ the code, not the creator. It might seem that David Hines and the CEC are reading from the same book, if not the same page: they both want people to behave as Jesus did. Hines says that, in fact, the difference is chasmic. He believes that groups like the CEC are deceitful in their public-facing focus on Christian values and de-emphasis on beliefs, and says he’s compelled to highlight this reality. “If you read their [religious instruction providers operating in New Zealand] syllabuses as I have, values is a very small part of it. I studied one of their syllabuses, which covered half a year – I think it had about 18 lessons in it. All 18 lessons dealt with God, and only two dealt with values. Even those were still saying, ‘God says you must do this’.” Hines is speaking about the Access Ministries Junior Curriculum, which has been used by the CEC. Abbie Reeve of the CEC resource development team told Education Review that as of the end of Term 2, 2016, CEC has withdrawn approval of the Access Ministries Junior Curriculum, saying, “… the content is perhaps not necessarily aligning truly to who we say we are, so we are choosing not to use it.”
One of the main points put forward by Jeff McClintock and the SEN is that religious instruction in state schools constitutes a ‘tyranny of the majority’. When this happens, they say, you get minorities. This isn’t consistent with the Bill of Rights Act 1990, says McClintock, which is in place partly to prevent democracy trampling on the rights of the individual. “Schools are supposed to be neutral ground; by that we do not mean ‘anti-religious’. Bringing volunteer preachers into schools isn’t, I believe, consistent with the Education Act, or with the Bill of Rights Act and the Human Rights Act.
“We’re not saying that anyone should be treated differently; no-one is asking for special ‘atheist classes’, which we’ve been accused of. That’s pluralistic nonsense – ‘if you’re not teaching Christianity, you’re teaching atheism. If you’re not with us, you’re against us’.”
Tracy Kirkley and Abbie Reeve of the CEC say it’s a distortion of reality to interpret legally sanctioned religious instruction in schools as some form of coercion. “There’s the whole freedom of choice aspect,” says Kirkley. “The court case hinges around the fact that children who’ve been opted out, or children from other faiths, are being religiously discriminated against. My response to that is that we have elected Boards of Trustees to whom we’ve given that responsibility, to choose whether they want [religious instruction] programmes or not; they’re under no compulsion. “Our teachers are not there to guide children into a church, or guide them into anything at all. These are the decisions they need to take back to their parents and caregivers. If there is a parent who is unhappy, we want to address that. If we get a complaint, we deal with it; we have a process.”
And so we come back to ‘values’: one side says they’re simply instructing children in the values – and the belief structure – that is part of the bedrock of our shared history, and that schools and parents have the right to choose that instruction for their children – or not. Those who want God nowhere near schools say that whichever way you turn it, volunteer religious instructors are by nature evangelising children, simply by standing at the front of the class with a Bible in hand. Kirkley and Reeve strenuously deny this claim. “We are there,” says Reeve, “to teach the Christian belief system, and the values aligned to it, but as an organisation we do not evangelise. Our teachers are trained as such, and we continually communicate that to them and train them in that. There is nothing in our lessons that requires a child to make a commitment, or agree with anything.” And what about the lessons themselves? To the sceptical, the seeming insistence by the CEC that their lessons are taught without encouraging students to believe in God might seem a bit unconvincing. Kirkley says it’s all in the language. Where a Christian in a church setting might say ‘I believe’, or ‘we believe’, CEC-trained teachers would say ‘Christians believe’. This extends
Education Review series
Leadership & PD 2016 3
to religious observance, like group prayer. Instructors who choose to include observance in lessons – because whereas the CEC is strict about the use of their sanctioned curriculum, instructors can apparently make their own decisions in this regard – would give the class a choice, says Kirkley. “If there is a prayer component within any lesson, that teacher will say something like ‘I’m going to pray, if you would like to join me, that’s cool, if you don’t, that’s fine. I’m going to just close my eyes.’ There’s no compulsion. A child doesn’t have to dictate or repeat anything. There’s nothing within our lessons that would look at personal faith statements; a child doesn’t have to say ‘I believe’.”
David Hines says this is all window dressing, designed to placate the sceptical. “The syllabus that I’ve read tells kids that God made the world, and that he made it rain. That sounds very much like creationism to me. They’re not saying that evolution is false, but it’s pretty close, isn’t it?” Hines also makes the point that, despite best intentions, the system of neutral language that is part of the way the CEC go about their business isn’t the only model on offer. He is reluctant to talk about specific examples because some may prove to be required as evidence at some point, in whatever form the case takes in the future. “The CEC doesn’t know about all the other organisations and syllabuses. They claim not to be using anymore an evangelistic lesson plan called ‘Connect’. We’ve found three schools in the last couple of weeks which are still using it. People who are not part of the CEC are using ultra-evangelistic syllabuses, which for, example, invite kids to go and evangelise their peers.” One piece of ‘evidence’ that’s already out there is the review of religious instruction syllabuses conducted by Paul Morris, Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University. According to an article published on Stuff in 2015, the syllabuses used by the CEC were, at that time, inappropriate for state schools; they ‘taught religion, rather than about religion’. He also said that while the CEC website claimed that CEC instructors use phrasing like ‘Christians believe’, “the statements on the website do not honestly reflect CEC’s viewpoint as it is expressed in the syllabuses”. Hines says that the insistence on the part of the CEC that religious instruction is a pastoral programme like any other simply doesn’t stand up. “They could do all of the things that they do in a hall down the road, and we would have no objections at all, of course we wouldn’t! They do it in school, I believe, to try to give the impression that the school is endorsing it. They repeatedly say ‘these schools endorse our programme’. That’s a problem.” All of this is a moot point, as far as religious instruction providers, and the schools that host them, are concerned: opt-out or opt-in, parents
4 Leadership & PD 2016
Education Review series
They could do all of the things that they do in a hall down the road, and we would have no objections at all, of course we wouldn’t!” make the decision. So bickering over the terms of belief and observance within religious instruction classes is entirely irrelevant. But the SEN says that if you’re removing kids from class you’re potentially creating a minority. Tanya Jacob has joined David Hines in the cause for secularisation of state schools. She was compelled to do so, she says, after her children experienced first-hand what it means to be the ‘other’. “We had our children at Harewood School in Christchurch, and we had them opted out of Bible in Schools there. The bullying happened for about three years.” Jacob says that her children were repeatedly put back into religious instruction classes. Harewood School principal Julie Greenwood vigourously denies this claim. But it wasn’t the fact that she believed her wishes had been ignored that made the whole thing a big deal for Tanya. It was the bullying she says her son was subjected to. “My son was being harassed two or three times every week. ‘Why don’t you believe in God?’, ‘you’re going to hell’, and that sort of thing. My daughter was also being told that she should believe in God as well.” Julie Greenwood says that, given the incidents happened some time ago, her recollection isn’t complete, but that the dispute has been blown out of proportion. “There was a conversation between children, from what I understand, along the lines of ‘how come you’re not involved’, ‘you don’t believe in God’. They were certainly not bullying incidents. There were comments made that were were followed up, and were discussed with the children, and with the parents.” Education Review asked the Ministry of Education to comment on the fact that there is concern among some parents that their wishes regarding religious instruction are
being ignored, and that the classes themselves create fertile ground for bullying. Lisa Rodgers, Deputy Secretary for Early Learning and Student Achievement, responded. “It’s very concerning if parents report their children are being bullied, whatever the cause… We provide guidelines to schools which have important information about preventing bullying.” “Religious instruction was not covered by the Tomorrows Schools reforms so remained in the 1964 Act along with a number of other items that were not included. There are no plans to change any policy or legislative settings around religious instruction in schools. “It’s voluntary for students to participate in religious instruction and parents can remove their child at any time. If parents are concerned that their wishes are not being taken into account, or would like to know more about what their child is doing while religious instruction is taking place, then they should talk to their child’s teacher, the school’s principal and the board of trustees.” At the end of the day though, say Tanya Jacob and David Hines, regardless of whether the letter of the law is followed, it’s the law itself that needs to be looked at, if we truly believe in a modern, multi-cultural, multi-faith New Zealand society. “If you think about it,” says Jacob, “I don’t think that many parents would drop their children off at the church across the road from the school and consider that part of the school day. Yet religious instruction, I believe, takes advantage of the school environment by using the assumptions that parents associate with schools to endorse and reinforce their message. “And, of course, children assume that if there’s an adult at the front of the class that they’re a teacher, and that they’re going to say things that are true. I believe that providers of religious instruction are using schools in that way. I don’t see that as a fair use of the system or of the term.”
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Election time looms for school boards
With this year’s triennial board of trustee elections looming, there is much that schools need to be thinking about in terms of the election process, managing the transition to a new board and supporting new board members. JUDE BARBACK reports.
he elections of new boards of trustees taking place in May-June are an important fixture on the education calendar this year. At the time of the last elections in 2013 there were 18,435 people serving on the boards of trustees of New Zealand’s 2,422 state and state-integrated schools. Three years on, schools must embark on the process of electing new boards of trustees.
“We’re very comfortable with the way board of trustee elections are held. The process is being refined and improved with each iteration as the understanding of what makes for an effective board of trustees evolves,” she says. Kerr gives the example of boards being more proactive and strategic about finding the right balance of people to reflect their community and the right balance of skills and experience to be able to govern effectively. She thinks the three-year period for trustees to serve on the board is appropriate. Consultation for the update of the Education Act 1989 revealed strong support for a three-year strategic planning cycle to align with the election cycle for boards of trustees. However, although the major changes in board membership occur in triennial election years, there is still some fluctuation in intervening years due to casual vacancies, by-elections, and mid-term elections. The mid-term elections system, also known as “staggered elections”, was introduced in 2002. In addition to the main triennial trustee elections, a board may also decide to adopt a mid-term election cycle where half the number of its parent representatives is elected at a mid-term election held 18 months after the triennial election and the remainder are elected at the triennial election. A by-election can occur at any stage in the election cycle if an elected trustee leaves the board and thereby creates a casual vacancy.
The NZSTA has provided boards with plenty of advice on recruiting people for the board. From school newsletters to school answerphone messages to school activities and events – there are many opportunities to inform parents about the upcoming trustee elections. However, according to the NZSTA’s election planner, the most effective way of encouraging people to stand or nominate someone to stand is to make sure they hear from existing trustees about the difference they can make for their school. Existing trustees are encouraged to shoulder-tap prospective trustees to share recent and future initiatives at the school, what improvements the trustees have made and outline how important it is for children’s education to have an effective board. This may mean looking beyond the parents to the wider community; tapping into service and business organisations, local churches, and Māori, Pasifika and other ethnic community groups might provide a good way of getting the message out there. In approaching the elections, the NZSTA also asks boards to discuss the skills, competencies and experiences that they believe would be useful to have represented around the board table. Election project manager Janet Kelly says it is important that the board reflects its community. “A good balance of gender, ethnicity and skills around the board table will influence and support educational opportunities for each and every student in our schools.”
The overall trustee election process is managed by the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. NZSTA president Lorraine Kerr says she’s happy with the current election process.
Our aim is that all schools are effectively governed by a board of trustees whose primary focus is every student achieving their highest possible potential.”
Should principals remain on Boards? A Ministry of Education document concerning the update of the Education Act 1989 has sparked fears of the possibility that principals might not sit on boards of trustees in the future. A letter was sent from the Ministry to participants of the consultation process requesting further feedback on board capability and composition, among other things. The document asked for ideas for improving the current statutory composition of boards. “For example, should principals and staff representatives be voting members of boards?” it read.
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New Zealand Principals’ Federation president Iain Taylor says he has received many outraged emails from principals about the prospect. He says the arguments for principals needing to remain on boards are simple and clear. “The relationship between the BoT and principal is critical to the successful running of a school. It is the principal who follows the vision and direction of the school, which is set by the BoT with the principal’s input. It is the principal who constructs and carries out policies advanced
by the BoT. It is the input from the principal that guides the BoT in their governance role. It is the principal who provides all the pedagogical leadership for the BoT, which is critical, especially when making property decisions. It is the principal who provides all the evidential documents to keep the BoT compliant with all of their legislative requirements.” Lorraine Kerr, president of the New Zealand School Trustees Association, agrees that principals hold an important place on boards and says they are an essential part of discussions about their schools.
Board elections In its submission regarding the update to the Education Act 1989, BusinessNZ placed emphasis on finding the right balance of skills for school boards: “There needs to be a stronger focus on getting the people with the right skills, experience, expertise and knowledge necessary to fulfil the board’s responsibilities consistent with their mission, role, purpose, key outcomes, goals and priorities, and measures of performance.”
For schools that are dealing with a major issue or conflict, a change of board can be a good or a bad thing. Either way, the NZSTA says boards need to plan for the transition and has produced **itals** A Board’s Guide to Effective Succession Planning**, in which it outlines what effective succession planning looks like, drawing on what it calls “the 3 Rs”: readiness, recruitment and retention. In terms of readiness, a board needs to determine the relevant skills and experience of effective trustees and ensure its documentation is in place and up to date. For recruitment, potential trustees are identified, given appropriate information and parents on the voting roll are informed of the voting process and the skills and attributes of the candidates.
For retention of board members, a thorough induction process and ongoing professional development opportunities should be extended to the board.
For many years there was little support for trustees, but that changed significantly with the 2013 budget when the government appropriated $14.5 over four years to support the governance role. This funding, combined with existing professional development funding, has allowed the NZSTA to move to the delivery of fully integrated, free support and development services that can assist boards in enhancing all aspects of their governance role. The new services include HR advisory services, a recruitment management system for schools and a governance internal evaluation tool to help boards identify areas of strength and where they can improve their governance practice. There is also a full range of professional development options such as one-on-one opportunities and mentoring for qualifying boards, board chair residential courses, nationally advertised workshops and a range of online learning modules, a financial risk assessment tool for schools and a wide range of resources available through the NZSTA website, including GovTalks – a library of three-minute videos about governance-related topics.
“Our aim is that all schools are effectively governed by a board of trustees whose primary focus is every student achieving their highest possible potential,” says Kerr. “Although we have some way to go to achieve that outcome, for the first time we do now have the financial support to enable us and the boards we serve to make that significant difference over time.” A second tier of peer support and resources is available to NZSTA member boards. Membership of the NZSTA is voluntary; around 90 per cent of all eligible boards of trustees choose to be members. This second tier includes a regular membership magazine, quarterly regional newsletters, access to regional membership activities and the NZSTA National Conference, which provides two and a half days of concentrated professional development workshops and networking opportunities for member boards. Kerr expects around 900 trustees to attend this year’s conference in Wellington. Many boards reserve conference places for their new trustees in an election year. Information for parents and prospective trustees is available from the School Trustee Elections website www.trustee-election.co.nz.
The evolving role of boards In 2013 Stuart Middleton wrote an article for Education Review questioning the board of trustees model as a reliable method to govern a school. He describes the model as “democracy in action at the smallest level”, particularly for small, isolated communities that have a variable and often limited pool of experience available for election to positions on the board. Furthermore, the election is really a selection made by the community, which in itself, Middleton points out, will exhibit a widely variable level of competence to make such selections. “Is a community in a leafy, rich suburb able to provide the balance of backgrounds that will ensure that the business of schooling will prepare youngsters for living in a diverse and different world?” questions Middleton. “Can the community of a low decile school provide the range of skills needed to ensure that the provision of quality education and the levels of achievement for which they have responsibility are adequate? Low decile schools have complexities that middle and high decile schools do not have, and yet it is these very same school communities that have to provide a board that is, until it gets into trouble, largely left to do its best.” Middleton suggests there is confusion around the difference between governance and management.
“Where school boards run into trouble is that having been elected, they want to start micromanaging the school; they want to run the school. Their expertise to do this is based on a nostalgic recollection of their own schooling, their quite proper concern for their children, and often, a desire to prove that “their school” is better than the neighbouring schools.” NZSTA president Lorraine Kerr says a greater understanding of the difference between governance and management has emerged over time as the scope of boards of trustees has evolved over the years. “The whole idea of ‘governing’ being different from ‘managing’ or ‘administration’ has developed in the period since boards of trustees came into being,” she says. “In 1989 the board’s role and the principal’s were regarded as part of ‘school administration’. The idea of management as a separate type of activity from administration, and leadership as separate from management, and governing as separate from leading, has all evolved in the time since boards of trustees were created, and so the way the board’s role is understood has evolved – and is still evolving – as part of that. “In the 1990s boards of trustees were preoccupied with issues like property and funding. Students and anything to do with learning or teaching were seen as teachers’ business, not board business.
“The big shift has been the recognition since 2001 that student achievement is the board of trustees’ core business, and that everything a board of trustees does should be guided by the question ‘How will this help our students achieve the most that they are capable of?’” The roles and responsibilities of boards is a key discussion point of the update to the Education Act 1989. A discussion document proposes that it should be clear what boards are expected to do, and provides possible roles and responsibilities for boards. The roles and responsibilities of boards are currently scattered through various sections of the Act, the National Education Guidelines and the National Administration Guidelines, and in some cases are not clearly stated. Participants in the consultation process noted that this can lead to boards being unsure about what they can, and should, do. The revised Act is likely to provide some clarity in this area. In its recommendation, the NZSTA recommended the Act define the role of boards as being to govern the school community in such a way as to give effect to the national vision and goals for education. “The outcome we are working towards is that all schools are effectively governed by a board of trustees whose primary focus is every student achieving their highest possible educational potential,” says Kerr.
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The sequel to deciles
Schools wait in eager anticipation as the Ministry begins to explore different options for funding schools in an effort to replace the current decile system with a more targeted approach. By JUDE BARBACK.
friend confided in me that she was thinking of sending her children to a decile 7 school in the next suburb rather than the decile 4 school for which her children were zoned. The fact that the decile 7 school would receive less funding fell on deaf ears. She had no knowledge of what either school had to offer, or how well they performed. She knew only the decile ratings. Her hushed tone implied embarrassment – oh the shame of living in a decile 4 community and not two streets over in the decile 7! Deciles have done this to us. How did a system that was introduced to bring equality to our schools do just the opposite? The decile system, for all its flaws – and we’ll get to those – actually has its roots in the right soil. The system is essentially about saying to a school, hey, we recognise your students come from a poorer area and are likely to have more obstacles to learning, so we’ll give you more resources to help with this. It’s a fairly blunt explanation, but then so is the decile system – even labelled as such by the Minister of Education herself. Indeed, Hekia Parata has been public in her desire to introduce a new way of funding schools that better reflects their needs – and this, coupled with a groundswell of dissatisfaction with deciles, has led to the school funding review, now finally underway.
Short history lesson
Deciles made their grand entrance just over 20 years ago. The first stream of funding delivered using the decile mechanism, Targeted Funding for Educational Achievement (TFEA), was introduced in 1995. At first, funding was delivered only to decile 1 to 3 schools but within two years this was extended out to all except decile 10 schools. Prior to TFEA there were three resources available to schools with a high proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds: the Equity Grant, the Learning Assistance Allowance, and the Notional Roll for specified schools. Schools were required to apply for these grants annually. In 2003 there was a rather messy inquiry into decile funding. It began in 2001, but a change of government midway through meant the inquiry was dissolved. It was picked up again by the succeeding government and a report was released by the Education and Science Committee in 2003. It basically concluded that the TFEA decile model was an improvement on the previous funding system and assisted equity goals. It raised concerns about the effectiveness of the programme, recommending the Ministry of Education conduct research into the extent which the decile programme achieves stated outcomes. One thing from the inquiry that rang clear was that there was broad support for the notion of targeted funding to address educational under-performance resulting from socioeconomic disadvantage. Nearly all submitters stressed that a close relationship between a school’s academic performance and the socio-economic status of its community is an overriding dynamic in academic performance.
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So, what’s wrong with deciles then?
In 2008 Professor Martin Thrupp described deciles as “indispensable”. In a New Zealand Herald opinion piece Thrupp argues that decile funding is a means of partly compensating schools for socio-economic disadvantage, which has a direct effect on performance. He says the decile system makes social inequalities in education harder for governments to overlook and helps to develop a greater understanding of socio-economic status. Under the current system, schools are assigned a decile rating based on the household information of a random sample of students. This information is from five socioeconomic indicators: percentage of households with income in the lowest 20 per cent nationally; percentage of employed parents in the lowest skill level occupational groups; household crowding; percentage of parents with no educational qualifications; and percentage of parents receiving income support benefits. Decile 1 schools are the 10 per cent of schools with the highest proportion of students from low socio-economic communities, whereas decile 10 schools are the 10 per cent with the lowest proportion of such students.
Not targeted enough
Many claim the decile system does not represent the actual mix of students and their needs. One school in a middle decile might have as many students requiring special assistance as a small lower decile school. Or two schools in the same decile may have significant differences in the socioeconomic mix of their students and therefore very different needs emerging. Professor Stuart McNaughton says the decile system obfuscates the lived reality of students, their families, their teachers and a school’s communities. “We need to get behind the social addresses of schools and families to fully understand the processes that contribute to children’s learning and development inside and outside of school. This is needed to check the current arguments that schools can (or can’t) make a meaningful and long-lasting difference to all children’s achievement,” states McNaughton in Te Kuaka (2011).
The misunderstanding and misuse of a number
Arguably the biggest problem with deciles is the way they are perceived and used. Deciles are often incorrectly interpreted as an indicator of the quality of the education provided at the school. In an education system already fraught with inequality, it is unhelpful to have parents assume that high decile equates to high-quality education or high achievement. “I am stunned by the misuse and the widespread misunderstanding of the term. Media, schools and parents have loaded the term with meaning that was not intended and does damage to schools with the ‘low decile’ label,” Starpath’s Joy Eaton told Te Kuaka. Former Papatoetoe High School principal Peter Gall agrees there is a wide degree of ignorance about decile rankings.
“The idea that low decile schools equal a bad school, high decile equals good school seems to be widely accepted.” These perceptions have turned the decile rating into a marketable indicator of affluence for schools. A few years ago, visiting Fulbright scholar Christopher Lubienski researched this subject and found that many schools are aware of this conflation, and many play on it in their marketing to parents who perceive it as a measure of school quality. Obviously, the better the decile, the better positioned schools are to gain from any confusion on the matter. Lubienski’s research found that lower decile schools tend not to note their decile ranking on their homepage, while higher deciles have a much greater tendency to trumpet their rankings. A Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) conference paper in 2013 supported Lubienski’s findings. The paper described how some schools “deliberately seek to influence their intake so that their decile is raised and the school is seen as more successful”. The Education Review Office (ERO) made the decision several years ago to scrap decile ratings from its school reports in an effort to “correct the stereotype that a school’s decile equals performance” – a decision supported by the Ministry.
What’s the alternative?
While the decile system may be well intentioned, the Ministry certainly acknowledges its flaws and has finally started the process of reviewing funding in schools.
We need to get behind the social addresses of schools and families to fully understand the processes that contribute to children’s learning and development inside and outside of school.”
Although the review is in its infancy the Ministry claims, one alternative proposal has leaked its way into the debate. The proposal suggests giving schools extra funding for each child they enrolled from families with one of four risk factors: long-term receipt of benefits, a mother with no qualifications, a parent who has been to prison, and the child or a sibling being abused. Schools with a concentration of students with risk factors would receive additional funding. The Ministry says about a third of children have at least one risk factor. Many view basing funding on the circumstances of individual students as an improvement on the current decile system, which approaches the socio-economic status of its students with a much broader brush. Allan Vester, chair of Secondary Principals’ Council says he supports the proposed alternative, from what he’d seen of it. He noted that under the alternative, if a student moves school or changes from one sector to another then the data on that student moves with them. He told Newstalk ZB that it would likely help to reallocate existing funding more equitably between schools. However, others are more sceptical of the proposed alternative. Labour’s education spokesman Chris Hipkins takes issue with labelling
children with risk factors. He said there was potential under the proposed system to create more inequalities if it is poorly designed. Auckland University ethics professor Tim Dare, an expert on assessing risk factors for child abuse, believes schools shouldn’t need to know which particular children were at risk, as it might be stigmatising. “I feel the same about parents too, I don’t see why you’d tell parents,” he told the Herald. “They can ask. But what we need to do is to make sure it doesn’t matter – you are not taking people’s children off them, you are not labelling them as hopeless.” Otago University social work lecturer Dr Emily Keddell, who has also written on risk models for children, agreed that schools should not be told which children were at risk, however she felt parents should be told, according to the Herald. Vester told the Herald he sees no reason why the information on individual students would need to be used outside the team doing the funding calculations. “I would be confident that any model that provides additional funding need not identify or tag students.” Others believe socio-economic status is visible anyway. PPTA president Angela Roberts says the ‘at risk’ label was unnecessary and says teachers already knew their students’ backgrounds. Professor Thrupp says that parents also have an inherent understanding of the socio-economic make-up of its community. “Parents, especially aspirant middle class parents, have long used ‘the grapevine’ to gain a Continued on next page >>
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<< Continued from previous page socio-economic ranking of local schools. Deciles often just confirm what parents know about the social geography of their area,” his Herald opinion piece reads. It seems most are in favour of using socioeconomic information to tailor school’s funding. Deciles do this, but in a crude, broad-brush way, and as such are criticised for failing to reflect the actual needs of a school’s student population. Yet, the more tailored alternative that seemingly fills the holes in the decile approach has been criticised for having the potential to single kids out. We can’t have it both ways. However, if we are to move to a funding system that helps to address inequality in our schools we need to give full consideration to how any replacement system will function. The concerns about stigmatising individuals are certainly valid and should be taken carefully into account.
Allan Vester agrees. Real change would require more funding for schools, including allocating extra staffing to schools with high concentrations of highrisk students, he told Newstalk ZB. Vester believes strongly that extra staffing is needed as part of the solution, and highlights this in his Herald opinion piece. “I believe to really address the underachievement problem, the focus should go on the number and quality of teachers in schools with lots of at-risk students.” Yet more staff education is just one of many sectors crying out for additional funding. With Budget time looming in May, many industries and sectors anxiously hope to see funding increased in their areas. However, as Waikato Principals’ Association president John Coulam told the Waikato Times in 2012, there isn’t a “bottomless bucket” of money for education and any redistribution of funds would likely create “winners and losers”.
Real problem is underfunding
What happens abroad
Many believe that a new funding system will not solve the root problem: that the sector is underfunded. Teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa national president Louise Green says the lack of funding is the real problem that schools are facing, not the decile system. She points out that the OECD Education at a Glance 2015 report shows that New Zealand’s annual expenditure per primary student is significantly below the OECD average. “This doesn’t surprise teachers and principals and it won’t surprise parents who are increasingly being asked to dip further into their pockets as schools ask for bigger and bigger donations simply to stay afloat. “That’s why the focus on the funding review must address underfunding. Playing with statistics will not fix the problem.”
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New Zealand isn’t alone in its quest to find a fair and effective method of funding its schools. There is much to be learned from looking at what is and isn’t working in other countries. France’s Education Prioritaire policy works along the same lines as our decile system, classifying schools into three categories based on socioeconomic status. And like our system, experts have found that teachers, parents and students are stigmatised as attending a disadvantaged school. They have also found that middle class families move away from these schools, which sounds reminiscent of New Zealand’s cringe-inducing “white flight” – the exodus of Pākehā/European students from low decile schools. Ministry figures showed that the number of Pākehā /European students at decile 1 secondary schools dropped from 60,000 to 30,000 between 2000 and 2010.
Across the Tasman, Australia’s school funding is targeted through the Low Socio-Economic Status School Communities policy, which targets around 1,750 schools in disadvantaged communities. Each school receives a $5,000 grant to assess the challenges, the appointment of an additional teacher and funding of approximately $200 per student per year for two years. Britain’s Pupil Premium system allocates extra funding for schools with students eligible for free school meals; eligibility is determined by social factors including whether their parents are beneficiaries. For each eligible child, a school receives NZ$2,657 each year; this drops to $1,911 for secondary students. Students with additional social factors attract more funding. The Netherlands operates a weighted student funding system, which draws some similarities to the proposed funding model being discussed in New Zealand. The government provides resources to primary schools on a per pupil basis but with the amount per pupil differing by the educational disadvantage of the group to which the student belongs. Like New Zealand, these countries and others periodically tweak and review their school funding mechanisms to enable a fair and effective distribution of available funds.
New Zealand’s review
The leaked documents containing information on the proposed alternative to school deciles would suggest the school funding review is moving swiftly ahead. PPTA president Angela Roberts told the Herald she was surprised the Ministry was so advanced in its thinking about new school funding models, as the sector had very little involvement so far. However, despite reports that a funding review paper will be taken to Cabinet soon, Education Minister Hekia Parata indicated the Ministry was not rushing the process as the next decile recalculation isn’t due until 2019. Parata says the focus is on how to get the “right amount of resources to the right kid at the right time to make a difference”. Few could dispute this is a good aim to underpin any school funding programme. How to achieve it is more open to debate. The proposed alternative of more targeted funding has merit. The anonymity of the ‘at risk’ students is an important argument to be had. The discussions around staffing allocation and resourcing are vital. And no doubt other aspects will emerge as the funding review gains momentum. As Vester says, we need to be sure that whatever funding policy emerges is more than “a simple rebranding exercise”. It would seem we could be on the right track, assuming genuine sector consultation and a sufficient funding envelope are part of the process.
Principal focus New principal
The path to principalship
rom a very young age I had aspirations of being a teacher and even the lofty goal of one day becoming a school principal. I studied at Palmerston North Teachers College (as it was called back in the late 1990s) and graduated with a Diploma in Teaching. In my third and final year of Teachers College, I took Massey University papers extramurally to complete my Bachelor of Education that same year, and I was set for the adventure of teaching. Throughout my years in the classroom, I have taught at intermediate, full and contributing primary schools, rural and urban, decile 1 to decile 10, U1 to U5, and across all year levels. Six years into my career I gained a deputy principal position and so began my journey in management. After a couple of changes in schools, management positions, and completing the National Aspiring Principals’ Programme, it was time to put everything I’d learned together, take a leap of faith and apply for principal positions. It was at that point that I really evaluated what I was looking for in a school and community to lead. I didn’t want to apply for everything and anything just to get my first principal’s position. I had a lot to consider, including a young family of my own. I became selective and strategic about where to apply, including how far I was prepared to travel – I was a little fish with BIG dreams that just needed some adjustment! The adjustment paid off and I won my first principal’s position at a small rural school that was only a short commute from home. As a first-time
principal I had a lot of aspirations and was in the fortunate position of being employed as an agent of change. Full of energy and enthusiasm, I made my arrival known, quickly changing the physical environment and putting my personal stamp on the school right from the start. I then made it my goal to build relational trust with staff and grow a collaborative environment where teamwork and collegiality is paramount. As a result, I have been able to do what I love and do best – harness the dreams, aspirations and visions of staff, students, family and whānau in the school community and through the power of consultation and strategic planning, lead change and learning innovation. Because I took the time to listen and learn, know the staff, students, family and whānau, I was able to forge ahead in my first year and achieve a great deal, including implementing new systems and increasing student achievement, which gave ERO the confidence to put our school back on a three-year review cycle. Having been in my position for nearly two years, the list of changes and accomplishments has grown and although I cannot claim to be an expert, I can celebrate many successes and experiences with pride. Being a teaching principal has meant I have been able to keep my craft alive in the classroom and share the learning journey of my students, which I believe is really important. Being the principal means I can also nourish my passion for paperwork, inspiring
TRACEY GURNEY shares her path to a principal position at Ballance School, a small rural school in Pahiatua, Manawatū. people to be the best they can be and lead and manage. Being a small. rural school means we are truly the heart of the community and having the community onside is vital to being successful. I have been more hands-on in this role than I would have been in an urban school and success and issues are greatly polarised, but I thrive on every challenge thrown at me. Adjusting my ideals and accepting a teaching principal’s position has been the most rewarding learning curve I always said I would never do, but these are the best environments to learn about, and in which to do it all – I encourage aspiring principals to take up the challenge of U1 and U2 schools. For me, however, looking into the future, I will leave my gumboots and overalls behind in this office and one day head to new challenges and experiences that await in a larger urban school. I know that I will never cross everything off my to-do list, but I can ensure that everything I leave behind is sustainable. I love my job and believe that being a principal is a magical role. Like a bird soaring, we get to see a lot from above, or coach and guide on the side, and we have the power to influence and create change. As a new principal in a school, each of us is a taonga – a gift – bringing our own unique talents and treasures. The way we land in our new position is important and critical to our success, so too is staying true to our personal and professional values and being seen to be living those values.
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A matter of principal Education Review asks New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) president IAIN TAYLOR discusses how the role of school principal has changed over the years and how to manage the challenges of this demanding position.
Education Review: How has the role of the school principal evolved over the years? A: Iain Taylor: The role of the school principal has evolved considerably over the past 50 years according to social, political and educational change. Perhaps the most significant change came in the late 1980s with the introduction of Tomorrow’s Schools. This policy was intended to shift the control and ownership of schools to communities rather than the school education boards which were consequently disbanded. It gave school principals a high level of autonomy to be more responsive to the needs of individual children and at the same time gave ownership and power to communities to influence the direction of their local school and its curriculum. Alongside these structural changes have come pedagogical changes such that teaching is no longer treating all students as equals – as if they all progress, as a class, at the same rate of learning, just because they happen to be the same age. Pedagogy is now very focused on the individual, on inquiry learning and more recently on modern learning environments to assist in achieving higher rates of self-managed learning. Societal changes, particularly with the rapid acceleration of poverty and inequity means that principals have far more serious social issues to deal with from children arriving at school unfed and poorly clad to higher rates of learning disabilities and behavioural and health issues. There has also been a plethora of compliance issues to cope with, particularly in the last decade. As theories of leadership have developed there is now more onus on the principal to empower senior team members and to mentor and coach them to build capacity in principalship. There are issues with the average age of principals in New Zealand being over 50 years old and the likelihood that 70 per cent of all current principals will retire within the next five years.
What are some of the main issues principals are confronting at the moment, in general terms? A: A recent NZPF survey to all regional presidents of principal associations found that principal wellbeing is the top issue for principals, followed by principal workload, special education services and principal leadership support and advice. NZPF is working with the Ministry to fund a principal leadership support and advisory service across the country. Currently there are three such positions based in Whangarei in Northland,
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Invercargill in Southland and Gisborne on the East Coast.
What are some strategies principals can use to help manage and balance their workloads? A: Principals use a variety of strategies to cope with the increasing workload and complexities of running a school. These range from ensuring they have clear, well-communicated strategic plans and action plans so that they know what is relevant and what is not, to eliminating unproductive conversations, controlling appointments and meetings, delegating as much as possible, and making sure communications are always clear so there can be no misunderstandings that waste time.
The greatest rewards come from seeing kids succeed. That’s always been the case and always will be.” Also important is having clarity about meetings, especially clear, shared agenda, prioritising resources and assistance to meet deadlines, having organised filing systems, making ‘to do’ lists, organising electronic mail into folders to reduce interruptions during the day and attending to email messages only at set times. Just as important is learning to say ‘no’, prioritising critical issues and eliminating as much as possible that is not priority or core business.
Do you think there are enough mechanisms in place to give principals the necessary support to do their job well? A: No! Educators would be the least supported of all professions. That is why we are advocating hard for a principal leadership support advisory service system-wide so that all principals have access to advice, support, mentoring and coaching as required. Why is collaboration with other principals both locally and further afield important? A: Collaboration is a practice that professional educators have always incorporated in their practice. It provides the opportunity to share both challenges and solutions and to create solutions where they don’t exist. Collaborative groups are also great sources of PLD for schools and many share resources which
they then agree to channel into a common area for development, whether that is for teachers within schools or for leadership. It has always been a challenge for isolated or rural principals to participate in collaborative groups for PLD, because of the extra travel component. However, it is perhaps even more important that rural principals are able to connect with each other because they are already isolated with little or no contact with other principals. The Virtual Learning Network (VLN) has become very popular with isolated schools as they can collaborate at least virtually, even if not in person.
What sort of PLD should principals be seeking? A: New Zealand schools are all self-managing and so challenges for which PLD may be an answer will vary. Principals do seek out opportunities to learn what is happening elsewhere in the world and they also seek out examples of high performance and successful strategies in New Zealand schools. To achieve these goals they may well seek out conference opportunities. If ICT is a challenge there is the U-Learn conference held annually, which thousands of professionals attend. They may identify a particular challenge with a particular issue that is common to their local collaborative group and again pool resources and seek out an expert to meet that challenge; principals will know best what PLD they need at any given time.
With the triennial Board of Trustees elections looming, how should principals approach a new or refreshed BoT? A: One of the most important relationships a principal has is that with the BoT and, in particular, the chair of the BoT. As BoT membership changes it is critical that the principal takes the time to meet and properly engage with new members. It is the BoT, after all, that employs the principal. In the main, it is a system that works very well, and having the BoT membership drawn from the local community helps the school’s decisionmaking to reflect the values and aspirations of the community and provides an immediate link between the principal and the community. NZSTA offers excellent targeted training courses to BoT members as they seek it. So as changes in BoT membership occur, it is possible to upskill the BoT.
Principal focus School leadership
From where you sit, what appear to be the most rewarding aspects of the principal’s
role? A: The greatest rewards come from seeing kids succeed. That’s always been the case and always will be. In the end, the reason we ever get into teaching is for the kids. We want to give every single kid the best day we possibly can. We want them to learn, to change, to have fun, and to ultimately all be successful, happy, contributing citizens. We want them to fulfil their potential, whatever that may be. We want every one of them to look back and say, ‘My school days were the most productive and the happiest days of my life’. Sometimes that does happen… students return to show us what they have made of their lives and that’s just the best!
And the most challenging? A: The most challenging aspects usually are the frustrations that are difficult to resolve. We can have the best answers, the best pathways for kids’ learning, but not the resources to make it happen. The other frustration for principals is the time that compliance and paperwork takes away from leading learning in our schools. This means that much of the paperwork is done outside school
Societal changes, particularly with the rapid acceleration of poverty and inequity, means that principals have far more serious social issues to deal with, from children arriving at school unfed and poorly clad to higher rates of learning disabilities and behavioural and health issues.” hours. While most principals quietly manage working these extra hours, there are times when stress builds and principals can feel overwhelmed by the volume of work and the inability to achieve any down time at all. The final challenge relates to the desire to be inclusive. A growing number of children are presenting at school with learning and behavioural disabilities that can be difficult to manage. We find that our special education service is not always responsive or helpful and can often add to the frustrations and the difficulties in accessing appropriate support.
What advice would you give a first-time principal? A: My advice to a first-time principal would be, firstly, to build an excellent, healthy and open relationship with the BoT chair and other members of the BoT.
Secondly, I would encourage them to engage a mentor/coach to help guide them through the first year or two. Thirdly, I would suggest they connect with other local principals to share in the knowledge and expertise that is available through professional networks. I would also encourage them to seek advice on drawing up a school charter and operations plan that reflects the aspirations of the community. It requires particular skills to consult with community members in order to prepare a charter that is acceptable to the whole community as well as the school staff. Once constructed, a good charter can guide decision-making and can bring staff together with a shared vision of where the school is going. It can avoid any misunderstandings and unintended divisions in staff. Finally, I would say go out and enjoy it!
REFRESH YOUR PASSION With a TeachNZ Study Award, Study Support Grant or Sabbatical, you can take time out to enrich your career. Liana MacDonald from Onslow College used her Study Award to explore the ways our education system reflects the wider power dynamics in society. “It helped me reconnect with the reasons I became a teacher,” Liana says, “and gave me the tools to encourage my students to move forward in ways that benefit others, not just themselves.” Undertake research, get a qualification or add to your area of expertise. For the full range of 2017 Study Awards, visit TeachNZ.govt.nz/studyawards
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Learning leadership for
principalship JAN ROBERTSON says we need school leaders who are ready to step up to address the challenges in New Zealand education: that of isolated competitive schools, of inequity in student learning outcomes and inequity in the quality of teaching.
hen we begin our careers as teacher leaders our responsibility and accountability usually extends to the class or classes we teach and their whānau. Usually that is enough for us as we negotiate the challenges and excitement of our new teaching career. Our learning curve can feel almost vertical at times in our enthusiasm and diligence (aka long hours at night) to meet the needs of the students in our care. But as we develop in confidence and capability we begin to see that our responsibility extends much further than the students that our teaching influences. We begin to recognise that we are part of the bigger picture of all of the graduates who finally leave our school. We realise the importance of current research underpinning our pedagogy. We begin to have a much wider understanding of the aims of education. This pathway that we move along, albeit at different speeds during our careers, has been described by theorists as a movement from the “restricted professional” to the “extended professional”. Whatever it is called, there is no doubt that as our self-efficacy continues to develop – our belief that we can make a positive difference to students’ lives – we usually seek a greater sphere of influence, and begin to seek responsibilities (or they find us!) for department and schoolwide
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educational leadership for the quality of teaching and student learning outcomes. These might be middle leadership positions such as head of department or syndicate, or a literacy leader, or a pastoral care position. Our responsibility and accountability for the quality of teaching and learning in the school will now extend beyond the walls of our own classroom. Our schoolwide management responsibilities may also increase and may take the form of timetabling or sports’ organisation or responsibility for particular programmes or pathways. These responsibilities may precede appointment to or be part of senior positions in the school, such as deputy or associate principal or principal. But just securing one of these positions doesn’t necessarily mean you are a leader. Sadly, some people who hold these positions of senior responsibility show little evidence of educational leadership in their day-to-day work. But how do we develop the leadership that will be needed for such influence and direction that will be necessary to lead transformative change in teaching and learning? And how do we develop school leaders who are “super-extended professionals” (my word!) – that is, system leaders – the leaders who will look beyond their own school gates to collaborate with other leaders regionally and nationally to more fully meet the needs of the students in their care? The National Aspiring Principals programme has been developing school leaders who want to step up to address the challenges in New Zealand education in their careers: the challenge of isolated competitive schools; the challenge of inequity in student learning outcomes; the challenge of inequity in the quality of teaching. There are certain qualities and capabilities that we have looked for on application, and that we work to develop further and deepen through a coaching paradigm. Tino rangatiratanga: New Zealand schools need leaders who know the power and importance of the Treaty of Waitangi in education and will lead to develop future citizens who will value our dual cultural heritage and the diversity of our multicultural society through culturally responsive practice. These leaders understand that it is their own knowledge of New Zealand history and valuing of tikanga Māori, te reo and te ao Māori
that will lead to Māori achieving success as Māori. Leaders who are developing their leadership identity will want to apply for principalship in the future and will demonstrate the resilience, courage and efficacy to lead transformative change in teachers’ practice, starting with their own. Leaders who lead with a strong moral purpose for justice will address the injustices and inequity in New Zealand education, within and between our schools. Awhinatanga: Leaders who know how to support and collaborate with other leaders will create the new knowledge that is needed to meet the current challenges in education and work to make every New Zealand school a great school. Leaders who are digitally literate and know the power and capability of technology to complement their everyday pedagogies, learning and practice through their own connected learning experiences, will ensure their schools model these practices. Ako: Leaders who have the disposition to learn through deep reflection on their leadership practice, deep learning conversations and reciprocal learning relationships through the coaching partnership will continue to deepen their leadership practice throughout their careers. Connected leaders who have built their online resource kete and learning communities for supporting the multi-faceted role of the school principal through the management of for example, finances, legal issues, resource management, will know where to find the information and support they need to be effective in their schools. So look for opportunities to further develop this leadership capacity in your region. The investment you make in your own leadership and in that of your colleagues is really the most important role of leadership – to support others to develop in ways that helps them to become all they can be in their leadership – to develop leaders around you who can be even more than you have been able to be. Jan Robertson is academic director of the National Aspiring Principals’ Programme and senior researcher at the Institute of Professional Learning, the University of Waikato. For references to this article please visit the online version at www.educationreview.co.nz or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Principal focus Principal profile
Reflections of a
first-time principal Education Review asks Ruawai Primary School principal CURTIS GAYLOR about taking the step to the position of principal and what he’s learned along the way.
I love being able to get to know and interact with the whole school community and not just my own class.”
What have you enjoyed most about your first year as a principal? A: Absolutely everything. I have such a committed team of teachers, support staff and parents, which makes my job so rewarding. I love being able to get to know and interact with the whole school community and not just my own class.
Education Review: Describe your journey to becoming a school principal. A: Curtis Gaylor: I was a secondary-trained teacher but was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to teach at Dargaville Intermediate straight out of study. I spent six years there, where I was able to learn from two great principals. I started off with HOD roles in PE, health and EOTC and then was given the role of HOD of ICT and e-learning. I left there to take on the role of head of sport at the local high school. Not long after starting there, the principal position at Ruawai Primary School was advertised, which I applied for and was awarded. Did you aspire to a school leadership role from the outset of your teaching career or when you were training to be a teacher? A: I always enjoyed the level of responsibility that came with leadership in different sporting codes. So as soon as I started teaching, I knew I wanted to become a principal. Who or what was instrumental in supporting you to become a principal? Do you have any mentors? A: My first two principals, Margaret Morrison and Brendon Lucich, were hugely instrumental in supporting my journey to where I am now. The biggest thing they both gave me was their trust. They provided me with lots of leadership opportunities that enabled me to develop relational, financial and logistical skills. They also gave me the freedom to explore what best practice looks like in a variety of curriculum areas, but especially in e-learning and ICT. I also have a great mentor through the First Time Principals programme, Adrian Smith, who has a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Were you encouraged by colleagues or did you feel in competition with them when thinking about applying for a principal’s role? Did you feel free to voice your ambitions? A: I have some great friends within the education sector who have been hugely supportive. I have never felt any sense of competition. Have you taken any courses or qualifications or other professional development that has helped you be a better principal? A: Yes. National Aspiring Principals was fantastic. The discussions and networking opportunities were invaluable.
What do you find most frustrating or challenging? A: My biggest frustration at the moment is not being able to effectively resource and fund initiatives that I know will make a huge difference for my kids. I would also love to be able to provide my teachers with more release time for planning, assessing, reporting and professional development. I don’t really let it frustrate me though, as I know my BOT and I will identify possible solutions.
What have you learned? A: You don’t have to know everything and to surround yourself with the right people.
Do you have a good network and support with other principals? A: Most definitely. I have a great group of principals in the Northern Wairoa area. We meet once every term to discuss ‘What’s on top’ for our kids and ourselves. I am often on the phone to a number of them. Do you miss being in the classroom? A: Sometimes. But I am really lucky to have the opportunity to spend time in every classroom, play sport with the kids at lunchtime and go on all the camps, sports days and other extracurricular activities. So really, I get the best of both worlds. What advice would you give others aspiring to gain a principal position? A: Apply to enrol in the First Time Principals programme. Through this you will be able to really explore and reflect on what your real moral purpose is as an educator. You will have a really good idea by the end of the course if you do actually want to be a principal. Listen to the principals that have loads of experience. Experience counts for a lot! Take on every opportunity of responsibility offered to you and be prepared to take constructive feedback, make mistakes and to understand that not everyone has the same beliefs, pedagogy and ideas as you, and that is totally fine.
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Pasifika leaders of
tomorr Four inspirational Pasifika students came away from Victoria University’s international leadership programme with a drive to put their newfound skills to practical use in their communities.
helcia Gomese has big dreams of helping the children of Solomon Islands discover that there is a wider world out there full of opportunities for them. The 29-year-old student from the Solomon Islands is passionate about promoting the importance of education and the environment. She is currently building a library as part of her work in the community. Gomese has already discovered first-hand the opportunities that lie beyond her homeland. She is currently working towards a Master of Environmental Studies at Victoria University of Wellington and was one of four Pasifika students to graduate from the Victoria International Leadership Programme (VILP) last year. VILP has been running since 2012 and is the first of its kind in New Zealand. It is an intensive, extracurricular programme aimed at making students more globally aware and building the skills they need to have international careers. Being extracurricular, there’s a reasonably high non-completion rate as it’s additional to students’ studies and doesn’t contribute to their degrees. The four Pasifika VILP graduates represent Niue, Tokelau, Timor-Leste, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand. Their diverse backgrounds and connections to small or remote communities have made their contributions to VILP all the more valuable. To approach global issues fairly and intelligently, the programme needs voices from all over the globe. “Some of these students come from challenging backgrounds,” says Victoria University spokesperson Jolene Williams. “They’re not necessarily academically gifted, but are inspirational in the way they want to use their skills and knowledge to be involved in world affairs and development.” Gomese joined the programme because of its international recognition and the chance to put
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her skills and knowledge to use back home in the Solomon Islands. “I wanted to achieve more than just an academic qualification because I wanted to be able to give back to society and my community,” she says. “I hope to work in both the government and the local level in the Solomon Islands. I want to be part of those who will make better policies for environmental issues in the Solomon Islands.” At times it was a challenge to manage the commitments of VILP around assignments and study, but Gomese says it was definitely worth it. She broadened her networks and feels she has improved her self-confidence and communication skills. VILP has given her the opportunity to see how different people perceive and approach global issues.
VILP allowed me to participate in discussions, events and activities with other students from all over the world.” Anderias Tani, from Timor-Leste, also benefited from the programme. The 34-year-old, who is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies and International Relations, says VILP allowed him to make connections with people from foreign embassies, the United Nations and other political agencies. It taught him the importance of nurturing a “volunteering spirit”. Like Gomese, Tani hopes to utilise his education, leadership skills and new contacts back in his home country. “I came here with a promise to support the development back home. I’m thinking about going back to state administration to help with
local development. Timor-Leste is undergoing decentralisation, hence local government in Oe-Kussi really needs some human resource to support its strategic development planning and implementation,” he says. He plans to initiate leadership programmes in his community, the Youth and Students’ Association, and possibly in universities in Dili. Tani said learning alongside people from a vast array of different backgrounds was amazing. “This is because we are not only learning about a global issue, but we actually learn about how to understand each other cross-culturally. Often we see issues and offer solutions differently.” Fellow VILP graduate Sonnyvehe Togiatama agrees. “VILP allowed me to participate in discussions, events and activities with other students from all over the world. This helped me appreciate the importance of perspective even more, as well as how complicated something can be when transferred into another culture,” says the 22-year-old. Born in New Zealand and of Niuean descent, Togiatama hopes to use what he’s learned to assist in the development of future Niuean leaders. He is studying a conjoint Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce majoring in social policy/sociology and information systems and e-commerce. He says it was a challenge balancing the demands of VILP with his full-time study. “Every activity and experience was very challenging and worthwhile, but the reflection and write-up aspect means participants are essentially taking on an additional paper each trimester.” To complete VILP, students are required to attend 12 seminars and five speaker events and submit reflective feedback for each. They also must gain 200 points of experiential activities that are international in nature.
Other tertiary leadership programmes Lincoln University: Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme
rrow The programme is self-paced and self-directed. It was originally designed to be completed over the course of an undergraduate degree; however, there is no specified timeframe for completion. The required components must be fulfilled by the end of a student’s degree so that it can be added to their final academic transcripts. New Zealand-Tokelauan student Higano Perez also completed VILP and balanced the programme not only with his academic studies, but also his volunteer work with Red Cross Refugee Services. He worked several hours most days with a former refugee family, helping them settle in New Zealand. “I underestimated the time it would take up over my holiday period. But it was hugely rewarding to see how the family integrated into New Zealand society despite the difficulties of the language barrier.” He spent a year on an exchange in Colombia and now keeps in contact with various Colombian families who were resettled by the Red Cross Refugee Services programme. “I think that initial resettlement is important but long-term ongoing support is critical for the transition from their home country to New Zealand.” VILP has helped Perez develop a better understanding of other cultures, of New Zealand’s place in the world and how his contributions can make a difference. “Travelling and meeting many foreigners has really put into perspective how lucky we are to be born in New Zealand and that we have the opportunities and can take our everyday lives here for granted,” he says. The ambitious VILP Pasifika graduates show that no matter how small, every nation has a role to play in global affairs. The programme is certainly playing a part in helping to build the Pasifika leaders of tomorrow.
The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme aims to develop the ‘contextual intelligence’ and thinking required for leadership in the primary industries through experiential learning with case studies, field trips, discussions and debates with industry leaders and presenters. Participants traditionally come from all areas of the rural sector, from rural bankers to farmers, vets to rural extension officers, self-employed and consultants to staff of rural organisations. Its name comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which in the 1960s collaborated with Michigan State University to establish programmes that supported the development of agricultural and rural leaders. The concept was taken up by countries all over the world. Lincoln University recognised that leadership would be a critical factor in the future performance of primary production in New Zealand and secured the rights to run the course in New Zealand under the Kellogg umbrella. The first course was held in 1979. JASON ROLFE says the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme has set him up with confidence, skills and a great network of contacts.
Education Review (ER): What prompted you to join the Kellogg leadership programme? Jason Rolfe (JR): I had heard really good things about the course from previous participants, and I had always wanted to do it one day since graduating from Lincoln University. The time was right last year where I was looking for a new challenge and figured that this would be a great chance for that ER: What were the main things you took away from the course? JR: Confidence, ideas and more importantly a great network of leaders from around the country who had participated in the course with me. ER: What is your current job and what does it entail? JR: Currently I work for FMG, the largest rural insurer in New Zealand as an area manager for the Taranaki region. I have been with the company six years in various roles and started this current role in October last year, not long after completing the Kellogg course. My job is a leadership position within the company where I am responsible for managing a team of advisors in the Taranaki region as well as leading the strategic and operational goals of FMG locally. I also look after the graduate programme at FMG on a national level, which I really enjoy as I first joined FMG through one of the first graduate programmes. ER: Is what you learned from the Kellogg programme relevant to your work? How so? JR: Definitely. The information I learned around strategy, governance and in particular public speaking has really benefited my role. Skills learnt around facilitation of meetings are also really key to my current role. I also believe it has given me the confidence to put my hand up for leadership roles within FMG. ER: Would you recommend the programme to others? JR: Yes. Anyone who is currently in a leadership role or looking to get into one in the primary industries should look at this course. The course pushes you out of your comfort zone and challenges your thinking, as well as giving you the confidence to take that next step in your career. You are also able to network with rural company executives and senior government people throughout the course, as well as forming a network of rural leaders spread around the country with your fellow participants.
Canterbury University: Emerging Leaders Development Programme
Canterbury’s Emerging Leaders Development Programme is a year-long programme offered to Emerging Leaders scholars, dux scholars and Ngau Boon Keat scholars who are in their first year of tertiary study. The programme is student-led and has been running for over five years, so the university is now starting to see student leaders graduate and enter leadership positions both at the university and in the community. The year-long leadership programme consists of a residential retreat, leadership forums, group service-learning projects, a team programme and a mid-year retreat with a focus on global leadership.
The University of Auckland: New Zealand Leadership Institute
The New Zealand Leadership Institute was established as a charitable trust in 2004 with The University of Auckland Business School as its founding partner. The institute offers leadership development programmes, including the Leadership Mindset Programme, which comprises three two-day, non-residential workshops spread over several months. It also conducts research around various leadership themes.
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A dose of reality:
linking students with successful Kiwi mentors An innovative new partnership sees far-flung, successful Kiwis mentor first-infamily university students as they complete degrees in a range of different fields.
ot so long ago, everyone was discussing New Zealand’s brain drain, their voices dropping as they talked gloomily about all New Zealand’s bright young stars heading to the UK and Australia, leaving their homeland devoid of talent. But Ngapera Riley, global director of the Kea World Class New Zealand network, says they no longer think of Kiwi expats in these terms, but rather as a ‘global asset’. “There are a million Kiwis living overseas,” says Riley. “That’s 20 per cent of our population.” Over half of these are members of Kea, or Kiwi Expats Association, a not-for-profit organisation which was launched 15 years ago by Sir Stephen Tindall and Prof David Teece, who were the principal funders initially; Dr George Barker is the third founding director. The idea behind Kea is that Kiwi expats, or indeed anyone with a love for New Zealand, can connect and collaborate with the help of the Kea Connect network. As Kea’s values and aims align broadly with those of its education partner, AUT, it was unsurprising that the two organisations would put their heads together to come up with a unique mentoring initiative. The mentoring programme was launched in March this year, partnering globally successful business people with firstin-family university students. Fifteen students completing degrees in areas as diverse as hospitality and paramedicine will team up with business professionals who will guide and inspire them. In keeping with Kea’s ideal of New Zealand as a borderless nation, one of the mentor-student partnerships will see London-based sales director of Orion Health Belinda Allen sharing insights and inspiration with Rebecca Harris, who is completing a Bachelor of Business. Other mentors include a head chef, a youth services advisor, journalists, television presenters, a software developer and a health researcher. AUT selected the students and Kea then selected suitable mentors for each student from their global network. Many of the mentors are based in New Zealand, making it easy to meet up with their mentees. Bachelor of Health Sciences student Kaycee Bottcher will
The concept recognises the need to help students qualify with insights into the reality of their chosen career and exposure to their industry, as well as achieving excellent academic results.”
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be mentored by Haydn Drake, an intensive care paramedic from St John New Zealand. Incidentally, Drake is a former AUT student. He is pleased to be giving back to the university and to have the opportunity to help Bottcher follow in his footsteps to become a paramedic. Drake is impressed by how driven and focused she is about her study. “I think back to when I was her age and I wish I’d been as motivated as she is!” he laughs. Drake says the chance to mentor someone is useful for making him reflect on aspects of his job. He has also recently embarked on postgraduate study, which he hopes will benefit him in terms of professional and personal development. It seems unlikely that Kea could have matched Bottcher with a better mentor. Bottcher is looking forward to being mentored by Drake. As a paramedic, he is in a perfect position to offer the career advice and guidance that Bottcher is looking for as she pursues a similar career path. She anticipates that her connection with her mentor may be useful when it comes to practical work placements, or perhaps further down the track when it comes to finding employment. Like many of the students selected for the programme, Bottcher is a recipient of a Woolf Fisher First in Family AUT Scholarship. The scholarships are to support and encourage young people from families with no history of successful university education to complete a university degree. The hope is that the recipients will become key role models in their families and their communities, and mentors of other young people wishing to change their lives through university education. Riley is delighted that AUT have given the mentoring opportunity to these particular students. “That is one of the reasons I think AUT is such a fantastic education partner for us. They are truly innovative in their thinking.” According to AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack, the concept recognises the need to help students qualify with insights into the reality of their chosen career and exposure to their industry, as well as achieving excellent academic results. “AUT is focused on providing wide-ranging student experiences that complement their academic learning and in turn increase their employability. Our partnership with Kea provides a unique opportunity for our students to grow and learn with help from internationally experienced New Zealanders.”
take on the world Teaching overseas provides a unique opportunity to work with different curricula, experience new ways of learning and develop a real sense of international mindedness. Reaping the benefits of such an opportunity are three Kiwi teachers at very different stages in their careers. Seasoned head teacher Bruce Ashton and young teaching couple Ronald Saw and Ursula Inta talk about their experiences working overseas.
Great food, cheap travel and an abundance of culture – why teaching in Vietnam is unbeatable URSULA INTA from Blenheim and Ronald Saw from Auckland moved as a couple to Vietnam in the summer of 2015. They are teaching at ABC International School, an English-medium international independent school in Ho Chi Minh City, which provides education to 2–18-year-olds from 37 different nationalities.
onald and I had always said we’d love to work in Vietnam, and especially in Ho Chi Minh City. When we visited whilst travelling, we both said it would be a great city to teach and live in. It was a natural first choice for us and we jumped at the chance when we saw teaching jobs being advertised in the city. The vibe, food, and culture of Vietnam and South East Asia is unbeatable!
Learning a new curriculum
The biggest skill we’ve gained (so far) by working at an international school has been learning to teach with a new curriculum, the National Curriculum of England. In New Zealand we use a different curriculum so it’s great to get experience of teaching another. It also means we will be much more desirable to other international schools, many of which want you to have experience of teaching the National Curriculum of England (which is a very popular curriculum choice by many international schools).
Culture in Vietnam
Another benefit of teaching at an international school is being able to teach and spend time with students and teachers from different cultures. This gives us a real insight into the ways in which people from different countries live, learn and
celebrate. Experiencing other cultures is one of the most important aspects of teaching overseas. In New Zealand we have a lot of different ethnicities, but it’s not the same as immersing yourself in another country’s way of life. We’ve met so many people from all over the world, and made lots of friends. We both like the pace of Vietnam, and especially of Ho Chi Minh City. There are so many people and things to do. You could never be bored living here! One of the highlights is definitely the Vietnamese food. I don’t think we’ll ever get sick of it. It’s unlike any other food we’ve tried before. Our favourite is the local Vietnamese dish, pho.
Opportunities to travel
We’ve had the chance to travel within Vietnam and also Asia quite a bit already. Travel is so much cheaper here. New Zealanders are very isolated and it is expensive to fly anywhere. Not here! We recently went on a holiday with teachers from school to Hoi An, which is an amazing place in Vietnam. We’ve also been to Cambodia and are about to go to a little island off Vietnam called Phu Quoc, again with teachers from school. We plan to go to Hong Kong too at some point. There’s so much opportunity for travel here. We’ve been to 19 countries since we started teaching overseas and have still managed to save money on top of that! Continued on next page >>
Kia ora! Welcome to Vibe
Teach in London. Play in Europe!
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Teaching abroad << Continued from previous page
Living and leading in Mauritius Head teacher BRUCE ASHTON from Auckland recently moved with his family to one of the most beautiful places in the world, Mauritius. Bruce was appointed head of school for the International Preparatory School (IPS) at the beginning of this academic year. IPS is another English-medium international independent school. It follows its own international inquirybased curriculum and teaches both expatriate and local children. There are 360 students enrolled at the school. Bruce Ashton, head of school at International Preparatory School, Mauritius
Mauritius is known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean. There are lots of tourists, but once you get off the main highways you gain a better appreciation of what everyday life is like. In the north of the island beautiful beaches abound, while in the south the former volcanic cones provide a rich tropical forest in which to hike and explore. It’s similar to my home country, New Zealand, in many ways. Both are small islands, members of the British Commonwealth, and are isolated in the middle of very expansive oceans. Mauritius definitely has the upper hand weather-wise! Most days have been very sunny and warm. Adjusting to living here has been fairly easy as the population is well versed in English. English is actually the national language, although French and Creole are probably more commonly spoken. The first thing I wanted to know when arriving was where the supermarket is located! I was surprised to find that our local supermarkets carry everything you would find in a North American or UK supermarket. Another concern of mine was whether there would be good internet connection at my accommodation. I was pleased to find that our home came with a fibre optic wireless internet set up that keeps everyone very happy. My best experience so far has been my family arriving after a month of us being apart. I’m so pleased that they have fallen in love with the country and its people!
My role as head of school The International Preparatory School (IPS) in Mauritius differs from previous schools I’ve recently worked at, as there’s more of an international community here.
Typical life in Mauritius
Many of the staff are local, but have studied and worked in France or the UK. They’ve returned to Mauritius to be closer to family and working at IPS provides them with the best of both worlds – they can be at home and teach at an international school. We also have a wide and varied student population. Students come from Canada, UK, France, Spain, India, Poland and South Africa, to mention a few. The school is forward-thinking and I’ll be challenged in my role as head of school at IPS. For a start, I’m working with a different curriculum. Previously I worked with, and administered, the IB PYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme) curriculum but here we use a curriculum that is inquiry-based. I seek to be a service-style leader who works with faculty to help improve student learning. Our school strategy plan aims to increase teacher understanding of better instruction and to increase student achievement, both of which go hand in hand. It will be a challenge in that I will need to move the paradigm of some staff to gain a better understanding of how students learn best through an inquiry approach. I’m looking forward to the rest of this year. I’ve been well supported by the staff at the school; both the board and senior staff I work with have been exceedingly helpful in orienting me to the new position and country. I hope that this experience will help me to become a better head of school, to learn how to work effectively with the board, and to learn how best to manage a CIS (Council of International Schools) accreditation.”
Advice for those considering teaching internationally
Ashton’s son Ethan enjoying the sea at Mont Choisy Beach in the North East of the Island
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Bruce Ashton: “Do your homework. Ask as many questions as you can to be sure you’re making the right move for everyone in your family. And trust your gut instinct. If the school doesn’t feel like it’s the right fit, it’s probably not going to be – don’t be afraid to look for something else.” Ronald and Ursula: “It’s so important to find a recruitment company that will support you through the process of applying for jobs. We used TIC, and even now the staff contact us to check how everything is going. Watch out for recruitment companies that charge you fees – there are lots of good ones that don’t.” All three found their jobs at international schools with the help of Teachers International Consultancy (TIC) which specialises in helping teachers and leaders find the right jobs in the best international schools. It provides a free service to leaders and teachers considering a career in international education.
“Many teachers benefit from the experience of teaching internationally; young teachers at the beginning of their careers, and those more experienced and established in their profession,” says TIC managing director Andrew Wigford. “They return to their home country with many additional teaching skills and experiences of teaching in different ways, having shared best practice with their colleagues from all over the world. They also return as teachers with interesting, learning-focused stories to tell, which many repatriating teachers say is a great way to engage their learners,” he adds. With more than 8,200 English-speaking international independent schools worldwide, there is extensive choice for qualified teachers and leaders wishing to work overseas.
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What does being a student leader
AMBER JOSEPH, head girl of Palmerston North Girls’ High School 2016, provides her take on student leadership.
efore my role as head girl, I wouldn’t have said I was new to leadership. Prior to my appointment at the beginning of 2016, I had been in roles such as instrument programme leader, class captain, student council representative, senior art leader, English mentor, and guitar student leader. I had spoken publicly at open days, in the occasional assemblies, on road trips, and had even been asked to be a guest performer in a regional performing arts competition. I was a sportswoman, a high academic achiever, played piano, painted, and still managed a decent social life. But being a leader turned out to be so much more. Our generation doesn’t just experience advances in technology, comfort, travel, and ways of communication. We have undergone a huge advancement in confidence. Previous generations were discouraged from speaking up in class, were never called upon to speak publicly, and student leadership was about as successful as my
calculus homework… it showed little hope or signs of improvement. So when I was told by parents and grandparents that the things I was doing – the public speaking, the leading of others – was amazing, incredible, and such a wonderful opportunity, I believed them. As it turns out, leadership is about so much more than I, or even they, could have ever imagined. Leadership is being able to confidently lead people… constantly. It is a badge that follows you through your school, through your community, through your friends, and through your family life. As much as we may try to escape leadership, once appointed, you become truly committed to that role for the year. You soon realise that being busy isn’t just attending meetings every lunchtime. It isn’t having a full diary or having no time to breathe, let alone sleep. Being busy is having to pick and choose what you take on. It’s saying ‘no’ to opportunities you really wish you could take. It’s creating a mental organising system that gets you through
each day, and another for each week, and a big one that sits in the back of your mind for the year. Mostly though, I have found that leadership is about the people who look up to you. As a leader, you are a constant figure that people need to know is stable, consistent, and always there. Unfortunately for leaders, this is near impossible. People like to have names for leaders: a coach, a teacher, a head girl, a principal. And in the end, as long as someone is in that role who wants to be there, no-one gets too worked up. Despite being in the early days of my role as head girl, I can say that the biggest challenge I have faced is accepting that what I can offer is enough. Accepting that what worked for previous head girls did not work for me was difficult, especially when previous head girls had done a fantastic job. While having an image is important for the reassurance of others, being true and confident in yourself is vital for your own sanity as much as anything. And at the end of the day, when you are happy as a leader, others will follow.
Connecting, Collaborating & Leading for 21st Century Learning 5 & 6 JULY 2016 | ALBANY CAMPUS MASSEY UNIVERSITY, AUCKLAND
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PD for tertiary teachers:
Professional development for tertiary educators is vital. In the absence of formal training, the opportunity to collaborate with others to share best practice and learn new skills and strategies is essential. Education Review talks to Cath Fraser about her Problem-Based Learning workshop, aimed at tertiary educators.
hen Ako Aotearoa approached Cath Fraser to put together a professional development workshop aimed at tertiary educators, she said “yes” without hesitation, knowing she had access to ample resources to devise a suitable programme. Fraser, who works part-time at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and part-time as a research consultant, drew from her own extensive teaching experience and that of others to form a comprehensive workbook on the subject of problem-based learning, or PBL. The acronym has also stood proxy for project-based learning. Fraser says case-based or inquiry-based would also be relevant. “The take-home message is basically: This is what I’ve got to teach – I can’t change what’s required of the qualifications, but what I can change is how I deliver that content,” says Fraser. “It’s about enabling teachers to try something a little different to engage their students to work and discover solutions themselves, rather than standing up the front and feeding them the content.” The workbook was supplemented by video clips. With four teachers at BOP Polytechnic to receive Ako Aotearoa’s Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards, Fraser had easy access to examples of best practice. The teachers were filmed, sometimes for hours at a time, and then the footage was edited down into five-minute clips. Fraser has run three sessions so far and has been pleased with the feedback. Participants have enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the material presented and share their own experiences. One responded that they liked “hearing what others are planning to do”. Another said that the “discussions with colleagues, videos of exemplars, development of our own PBL example, supportive environment” were most beneficial. A third participant said they enjoyed “talking and looking at the presentations [and] being able to have peers talk over my presentation and critique”. Fraser agrees one of the most valuable aspects of the PBL workshop forum is the opportunity for participants to share what has and hasn’t worked for them in the past. This type of collaboration is a key aspect of the programme. Fraser is an advocate for parallel learning which encompasses a dual
focus on both the curriculum and the soft skills required in teaching, such as communication, confidence and resilience. Most participants are tertiary teachers – some are new to teaching while others have been doing it for a while and want to change what they’re doing. Unlike primary and secondary teachers, tertiary teachers do not have to study teacher education. Often – and particularly in the ITP sector – staff are recruited for their industry or specialist subject knowledge rather than their ability to teach. Therefore professional development courses that focus on teaching strategies are important for tertiary teachers. The feedback shows that many hope to embed what they’ve learned into their practice. When asked what they hope to change as a result of the course, one participant responds that they intend to “spend more time on the feedback aspects of activity so it is clear to students why the class was run in this way”. Another responds that they hope to give more time to students to discuss and explore issues and report back. A third respondent says their aim is to place more focus on students solving problems, “rather than a prescriptive approach”. Fraser views the course somewhat organically, as a work in progress. She says she absorbs the participant feedback and says each session presents different contexts for PBL that she tries to incorporate into future iterations of the workshop. For example, feedback from a recent workshop said they would like to know more about how PBL applied to a flipped learning scenario. In a recent workshop a question emerged about using PBL in a blended learning environment, so Fraser is working on adding a case study of how distance education and the digital aspects of learning can be incorporated. Professional development is clearly very important for tertiary educators as they grapple with teaching strategies in changing learning environments usually without any prior training. Fraser confirms that fortunately there are plenty of PD opportunities out there – many run by private training organisations. Organisations like Ako Aotearoa run a suite of PD courses that are typically well received.
It’s about enabling teachers to try something a little different to engage their students to work and discover solutions themselves, rather than standing up the front and feeding them the content.”
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SPOTLIGHT ON PD
Enacting school vision – are we
walking the talk? Core Education’s JO WILSON describes the steps schools and communities can take in order to achieve their preferable future.
n 1 March New Zealand schools were required to submit their 2016–2019 charter to the Ministry of Education. The charter is the Board of Trustees’ number one policy document for each school and sets the future direction of the school by outlining the school’s vision, values and strategic goals. The process for reviewing the school charter creates a wonderful opportunity for community engagement, providing all stakeholders with a ‘voice’ and an opportunity to learn from each other. This process can promote clarity, fostering a shared understanding of what the school is trying to achieve, enabling opportunities for all stakeholders to discuss and explore the way education is changing and the aspirations and needs of the community. Stoll, Fink and Earl (2003) talk about schools having three types of future – a possible future, a probable future and a preferable future. In terms of possible future, anything is possible. A probable future is best described as if you keep doing what you’ve always done, your future will probably be one that is comfortable and one that you know. In contrast, a preferable future is when you take charge of the type of future you want, review where you are currently at, explore possible options for development, select the preferred path and strategically plan to achieve your desired future. The charter review and development process provides schools with the opportunity to identify their preferable future.
Where to start?
This process can at times appear to be a daunting task, with school leaders unsure of where to begin. Reviewing what is currently in place provides a framework for the initial discussion. The following questions provide examples of how to facilitate this dialogue with community, boards of trustees, staff and possibly students.
Is the current vision relevant and meaningful to our students, staff and community? Does it clearly outline what we are trying to achieve? Does it guide and determine our decisionmaking? Does it guide and determine our professional learning programme? Our resourcing? Is it explicit and evident in what we say and do? Does this signal that we are preparing students for their future? For example, if we say that our vision is to develop confident connected lifelong learners, we need to consider what this would look like, sound like and feel like in our school. What does this look like for students, for teachers, for the community and the board? Is this integral to our ‘everydayness’ – at board level and in leadership, teaching and learning programmes? How does this vision guide decision-making? What are the implications for strategic goals, resourcing and the design of learning spaces? Simon Sinek uses what he calls “the Golden Circle” to highlight the importance of placing our vision and values at the centre of our planning, building outwards to the principles and then practices from there. He refers to the centre of the circle as the ‘WHY’, suggesting this should always determine what we do as we build towards our preferred future. Dr Julia Atkin explores this in
depth in her paper, ‘From values and beliefs about learning to principles and practice’. Taking time to unpack the principles and practices associated with the school vision and values promotes clarity through shared understanding of expectations. For example, if the school values collaboration and believes that this is integral to enacting the vision, then time needs to be spent to clearly identify the associated principles and practices. The following questions provide suggestions for facilitating this dialogue: What are the deliberate acts of teaching that support collaboration? What are the deliberate acts of leadership to support collaboration? What resources can we draw on to foster collaboration? How can we design our learning spaces to promote collaboration? The process of reviewing the school vision, values and strategic goals sets the future direction for the school. It breathes life into the identified preferable future, taking it from words to actions by providing opportunities to explore meaning and clarify expectations. Investing time in this process, involving all stakeholders, promotes ownership of and commitment to enactment of the vision and values. This ensures that schools will indeed walk the talk towards enacting their vision. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for references for this article.
HOW? Values/ beliefs
Lived expression of your values.
Derived from values/beliefs. Captured in policy statements
What you stand for. Mutually agreed and owned by the school community. Shared beliefs/values. Made explicit in mission/ vision statement.
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What if we didn’t do it
#edchatNZ founder DANIELLE MYBURGH extends an invitation to join the new #edchatNZ MOOC (massive open online course) – a professional development opportunity with a difference for New Zealand educators.
What if there was a way that we could create a way that every single school, regardless of where they are in the country (actually, the world!), had free access to quality resources and deep, powerful discussion about the future of education? What if there was a place or space where parents, boards of trustees, teachers and communities could think about what automation, climate change, resource scarcity, perhaps even artificial intelligence will mean for the students in our schools today? What if their views were not just shaped by shallow news articles here and there, or through fly-by-night professional development days, which quickly become hazy as we retreat to our busy lives? Those following the news will know that the New Zealand Labour party has recently made major announcements regarding three years of free tertiary education for everyone. The New Zealand Herald elaborated on this announcement with Andrew Little’s explanation that “the plan was designed with the future of an automated workforce in mind … the nature of work is changing rapidly and our education system must keep up if we are to seize the opportunities of the future … to compete in the new economy.”
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You may also have been following recent developments both around the world and within New Zealand politics around Basic Universal Income – an unconditional income for every single citizen. The Industrial Revolution saw the education system increasingly use work as the carrot on the end of the stick for motivation, especially secondary schools. What happens when this carrot is no longer an option? And then, if the future of work and the effects of that is not enough in itself, we have not yet even begun to talk about climate change and what that means for the students sitting in our classrooms today. What will it mean for where they live, how they live, how they work and play?
Will you join us on this adventure as we encourage and hopefully empower educators from across the country to really grapple with the kind of future we are building?” Often in the busy day-to-day of keeping our heads above water in schools we forget the wide world beyond our school gates. Beyond a shadow of doubt, teachers and school leaders have their plates full. Yet just beyond the horizon of all this business there are major shifts in society, and they are increasingly demanding our attention if we hope to prepare our students for the uncertainty that lies ahead. Fortunately, the ‘what if’ that we started this article with, has turned into a ‘how might we’ and before you know it, has resulted in exactly what we had hoped for – a way to provide anyone,
anywhere with complete access to quality resources and discussion to think about the future of education with a few more tools in their arsenal. Perhaps even, a way to make change… Over the last year, #edchatNZ has been developing a free online course, or MOOC, with the aim of developing participants’ capacities to discuss education futures in deeper, more sophisticated ways, whilst taking on a more active, informed role in experimenting with future-focused change. A lofty ambition; however, one for which we hold high hopes. This free, 11-week online course, available to anyone and everyone, launched on 25 April. The project has seen a range of people and organisations contribute in incredible ways. #edchatNZ, Edge Work, Auckland University of Technology, and now even Open Polytechnic has contributed towards making this project happen. The course is hosted through Open Polytechnic’s very own, beautifully designed, learning management system – iQualify. The careful curation and design of content and course work has seen contributions from a range of thought leaders across the country and world, carefully crafted by Danielle Myburgh and supervised by Jane Gilbert. Core Education have also contributed through their scholarship for studying what might emerge from this project. Across the country, there are individuals across and within schools self-organising into study groups to support and challenge each other, but more importantly, to think and learn together. Individuals too have opted in and signed up to be part of this project, signing up for thinking about education at a much deeper level. We have asked ‘what if’ and ‘how might we’; the only question remaining now is ‘what next?’ Will you join us on this adventure as we encourage and hopefully empower educators from across the country to really grapple with the kind of future we are building?
SPOTLIGHT ON PD
A positive education for all? Within the past decade, a quiet groundswell of interest has contributed to a gradual shift in the way that educators see the world. GABRIELLE MILLS reports on a professional learning experience focused on positive education.
hat do you want most for your students?” asked renowned Positive Psychologist Martin Seligman in his 2006 introduction at Geelong Grammar School, Corio, NSW. In turn, the school’s Director of Positive Education Justin Robinson asked this same question at Pinehurst School in Auckland last month. Seligman is one of the seminal, prolific movers of this perspective, to envision a more positive direction in cultivating, nurturing and empowering people to live with optimal states of psychological, emotional, and physical wellbeing: in short, to ‘flourish’ (Seligman, 2011). Geelong Grammar School (GGS) is one of the world’s leading exponents of how Positive Education can work to effect such change in schools. With the recent establishment of its Institute of Positive Education, Robinson, an impassioned communicator, was keen to explain their best practice, whole school model and to offer a range of professional development, with short and longer term courses, to professional, and more recently, public audiences. To this end, he had come to introduce the framework in our afternoon seminar, with a follow-up, three-day, intensive course planned for early October at Kristin School in Auckland later this year.
The emergence of Positive Psychology as a cutting-edge science comes from a realisation that people around the world are happier, healthier and living better when equipped with skills and abilities that enable more invested, positive relationships, along with a more holistic balance of personality attributes, an understanding of approach/avoidance motivations and self-efficacy through learned optimism and resilience training. While founded in erstwhile humanistic psychologies of growth and human potential across the lifespan, the innovative point of difference lies in the validity and accountability of establishing new, empirically-based research. Studies from the UK and US offer a considerable evidence base for the construction of policy and programming that support Positive Psychology in applications as broad as organisational, public health and educational sectors.
Closer to home, dedicated research by AUT and the University of Melbourne, for example, along with organisations such as the soon-tobe amalgamated New Zealand and Australia Associations of Positive Psychology offer much potential for analysing wellbeing across Australasian target populations and cultural groups. International findings related to mental health and morbidity status indicate significant impact is possible to reduce, rehabilitate, prevent or inoculate against common mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression. For example, recent tracking of young GGS alumni, post-Positive Psychology intervention programming of their senior schooling, suggests a longer term protective influence can be measured within the positive development of young people.
This allowed me to reflect on a wider perspective in education, not just about academic achievement, and to embrace the notion of developing the student as a healthy human being.”
In constructing their programme, GGS focused on embedding Positive Psychology principles through the structure of Seligman’s PERMA model, through two to three years of modulated, sequenced introductions and development, from senior management through to ancillary staff levels, before introducing Positive Psychology into selected year levels across the target secondary school student group. In this way, a ‘learn it, live it, teach it, embed it’ environment scaffolds authentic, supportive Positive Education programming. It works simply because it is part of the construction of the school, its ethos, its vision and its people. The programme at GGS has evolved over the 10 years since inception to include Positive:
Relationships – for example, social intelligence, friendship and empathy Emotions – broaden and build theory, emotional intelligence and gratitude Health– physical as well as resilience –coping, optimism and mindfulness Engagement– flow, motivational theories and character strengths Accomplishment– goal-setting, growth mindsets, persistence, failure, gratification and purpose Meaning– community, ethics and values. Weaving individual and group activities, workshops and incentives through co- and core-curricula, across vertical and horizontal, day and boardingschool contexts, as well as the broader community, allows all staff to model, nurture and be responsible for creating this positive environment. GGS is an exceptional school, with resources beyond the scope of many of its local peers; however, the prospect of changing mindsets to be more inclusive or ‘asset‘-based does not require extraordinary funding; rather, the potential for positively ‘auditing’ what we do well in our respective educational roles is more significant for identifying what is possible in each school community. As members of this audience commented, “This reminded me of what I already do and motivated me to enhance… and consciously make it a consistent part of my planning”. In addition, “this allowed me to reflect on a wider perspective in education, not just about academic achievement, and to embrace the notion of developing the student as a healthy human being”. Robinson challenged seminar participants to raise possible answers to his question “What do you want most for your students?” and this is something we should all consider. Is it maximising productivity as academic achievement or staff utilisation, protecting potential vulnerabilities by preventing mental illness, preparing people for adaptability in a fluctuating, unpredictable future, or meeting the most fundamental of philosophical ambitions: promoting ‘good’ citizens to become flourishing individuals? And how much influence might a positive environment have on our answers? References as cited in Robinson, J. (2016) ‘Introduction to Positive Education’ presentation. Gabrielle Mills is a Co-ordinator of Positive Education at Pinehurst. She is currently completing a MAPP degree at the University of Melbourne.
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Engaging learners in a
blended learning environment JILL TANNER-LLOYD, Ako Aotearoa’s communication manager, joined participants at the first delivery of the organisation’s newest professional development workshop to find out what teaching strategies are needed to maximise learner engagement and success when using blended learning.
hile it is generally accepted within tertiary education that blended learning refers to the integration of faceto-face and online learning experiences, the balance between these two modes of class/course delivery can vary greatly between educators and organisations – context is everything. Does a learner reading lecture notes in a café on their mobile device represent blended learning? What about the distance learner asking a question about course work in an online forum? John Milne, teaching and online consultant at Massey University, is not only an experienced facilitator, but also a member of the project team funded by Ako Aotearoa that produced the research underpinning everything he shares in the workshop. The project team developed a framework of key considerations for learner engagement when using blended approaches: how to successfully engage with learners at the start of
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There is a range of possible definitions depending on whether one views it from the teacher’s role in structuring the course or from what the student does in an online environment.” a course, during a course, and how to recapture the disengaged if or when they have drifted away. What I learnt from this interactive workshop is that there are many different combinations of faceto-face plus online teaching and learning along the blended learning spectrum. One participant, Gillian Croad, who runs Wellington-based PTE Playcentre Education, told me afterwards, “The workshop highlighted for me that there is a range of possible definitions depending on whether one views it from
the teacher’s role in structuring the course or from what the student does in an online environment.” Milne quickly steered the group beyond lively debate about what constitutes blended learning to using the app gosoapbox.com for participants to share their views and experiences of blended learning. This was a great way to start an interactive professional development workshop, particularly when the participants’ teaching and learning contexts were so varied – from managers of small networked groups involved in early childhood education to programme leaders and lecturers at universities delivering courses entirely at a distance, or distance combined with block courses. Clearly there are plenty of online tools available to facilitate interaction between teachers and learners, as well as peer-to-peer discussion. Whatever the platform, two common challenges came through in the small group discussions: Making the learning real via online delivery. Keeping learners motivated throughout the course.
SPOTLIGHT ON PD
Tackling these sticking points head-on, Milne introduced the group to the project team’s top 10 engagement strategies that, when used together, will achieve the maximum benefit for learners and teachers – addressing those questions and more. Each strategy represents a critical aspect of the learning process. Strategy 1, for example, focuses on primers for getting student attention and the importance of curiosity and relevance. Milne stressed that curiosity is a great tool to get learners engaged when wanting to use a blended approach to teaching delivery. He demonstrated that with a video clip of Ramsey Mussalam, a US high school chemistry teacher using multimedia and new technology in the classroom to heighten curiosity and inspire his learners. Mussalam firmly believes that teachers should strive to be the “cultivators of curiosity and inquiry” and argues that we need to “confuse, perplex and stump our students” to promote and maintain engagement. Challenging learners with tasks based around real-life scenarios heightens the relevance of the learning. A take-home message from Gillian Croad’s perspective was “…the importance of remembering the basics of face-to-face settings and planning to build relationships and maybe challenge students in a provocative way to heighten their interest”. Surveyed as to which aspect(s) of their
practice they expect to change as a result of the workshop, one participant described an intention to “think more about clear structure at [the] beginning and keep on working on authentic activities”, while another was focused on “assessment – more creative and more creative teaching concepts”. What does Milne think of his inaugural blended learning PD workshop for Ako Aotearoa? “It was great to work with such enthusiastic people who want to learn more about providing successful blended learning experiences,” he says. “The framework we used focuses on the essential aspects to get learners engaged and keep them motivated so learners are more likely to have these positive learning experiences.” The collaborative project Help or hindrance: Blended approaches and student engagement, led by Dr Lynn Jeffrey from Massey University, offers an excellent example of how findings from Ako Aotearoa-funded projects are often disseminated across the tertiary sector. Ako Aotearoa’s aim is to share evidence-based outputs from collaborative teaching and learning projects as widely as possible (via a wide range of resources). This also results in development of high-quality, interactive and reflective professional development opportunities for a wide range of tertiary staff.
Blended learning Top 10 engagement strategies Getting students engaged: 1. Primers for getting student attention: curiosity, relevance. 2. Social presence and belonging: teacher enthusiasm, immediacy and an inclusive environment. 3. Clear content structure. Maintaining engagement: 4. Clear, unambiguous instructions and guidelines. 5. Challenging tasks. 6. Authentic tasks. 7. Timely feedback. 8. Elaborated feedback. Re-engaging: 9. Monitoring and early identification. 10. Personal contact and negotiated conditions for re-engagement.
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Learning today for tomorrow’s world ELAINE SHUCK asks whether educators are delivering the critical skills students will need to thrive in the workplace of the future.
hen family members ask what I do for a job, I tell them I spend a big part of my day thinking about the future. Specifically, what new skills teachers will need to learn in order to create a 21st-century learning environment; an environment that will ensure students have the skills they will need to succeed in their future workplaces. The widespread availability and rapid advances in digital technology are causing changes i the workplace not seen since the industrial revolution. A recent study by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand suggests that 46 per cent of New Zealand jobs are at risk of automation in the next 20 years. Students set to enter the workforce in five, 10, or even 15 years from now are expected to have several different careers ahead of them, compared with the previous ‘job for life’ generations. The Future of Work Commission, established by the New Zealand Labour Party, has launched a two-year programme to understand the changing nature of work and its impact on the economy. Education and technology have been identified as two of the key areas being assessed as part of this review. With jobs and even entire industries set to disappear, it’s clear that a more adaptable workforce will be needed. More responsive and personalised education pathways may be needed to meet the demands of a workforce that needs to be resilient and more adaptable. As we know, schools and colleges are under increasing pressure to deliver technology-enhanced learning. So, what’s needed to upskill our teachers to ensure they have the tools and knowledge required to thrive within this new learning paradigm? At Polycom, where we can really add value is to ensure the technologies and tools we are creating today will support the rapid pace of change taking place inside the classroom. To help us understand what Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) educators will need to succeed in the classroom of the future, we undertook a 2025 Education Technology Innovation Survey. Over 700 ANZ educators responded with a diverse range of job roles – the majority being teachers and principals – and 90 per cent were over the age of 30. Outlined below are more insights into the key findings: 1. Education accessibility: more investment needed A big concern was the accessibility of education, especially in remote areas, with 40 per cent of educators believing parents and students alike are demanding more mobile and remote access to services. While respondents are confident
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of technology progressing to the point where online and interactive learning is possible, there is an expectation of more investment in education to ensure it is easily accessible to those who want or require it. Currently, 58 per cent feel that the respective governments are not keeping up with education innovation. Respondents also believed that future education models will likely come from educators themselves rather than the government or private sectors. A majority also believe the education sector will be investing in Virtual Learning Environments (VLE). 2. Curriculum catch-up required: improving quality of teachers versus personalised and contextual learning Right now, one of the largest inhibitor for the future of education is seen as the curriculum not keeping pace with future workforce needs. However, when it comes to potential solutions, there were differences of opinion among the ANZ educators. With deregulation and revised compliance standards, 27 per cent of those surveyed think that improving the quality of teacher-learning should be the primary focus, while 23 per cent felt that the priority should be on personalised and contextual learning, opting for a more studentcentric approach. 3. Technology in the classroom: laptop versus real-time collaboration from anywhere The majority (51 per cent) feel that the potential of technology to support meaningful learning in the classroom is currently underutilised. Currently laptops and in-classroom learning are the ways in which students engage with material and content in 2015. However, fast forward to 2025 and educators believe real-time video collaboration and mobile devices will the main ways in which students will be engaging with content and material. 4. Delivery of education: teachers collaborating with industry experts Respondents believe that teachers and lecturers are the best ways to deliver education in 2015, but they feel that by 2025 industry experts and online learning consortia will be the best ways to deliver education. With the aid of technology, a greater collaboration between schools and corporations, as well as defined career pathways, will be the likely scenarios in 2025.
‘Train the trainer’ delivers collaboration success
Based on these findings, it’s clear that more focus on professional development is needed within the education sector. We can have the greatest
technology on the planet, but if we don’t know how to use the technology and apply it within the learning environment then we have a big problem. We believe it’s important to deliver useful professional development to the education sector from basic video collaboration functionality through to adoption ideas and tools for engaging both students and teachers. We also find that some of our most successful teacher training is delivered with the support of our existing education customers using a ‘train the trainer’ approach. This involves helping to facilitate connections and collaboration among customers who can share and pass on knowledge to newer customers for whom the process is just beginning. If you decide to go down the ‘train the trainer’ route, here are some tips to keep in mind: Demonstrate the technology utilisation to your team in a way that you would want them to teach their students. Introducing a case study, as indicated earlier, can work well. Invite an educator to your session that can explain and share their success in using technology within their learning environment. This will help your team to start thinking about ways they can integrate technology within their own learning environment. Try to incorporate the many technologies that your team is currently using in their ‘educator tool kit’, making sure to use the technology that fits the application.
The future of education in 2025
While the future does hold some unknowns, the next decade will be an exciting time to be involved in education. As a profession, we are ready to go through our own workplace transformation. The way in which we learn, teach and collaborate as educational professionals is set to change significantly; it has to if we are to succeed in supporting the educational requirements of our future workforce. While no-one can ever predict the future with absolute accuracy, we can plan for likely outcomes. From our perspective, having access to the right technology alone is not enough; it is vital that these technologies are fully integrated into teaching methodologies and learning environments, both physical and virtual, to unleash their true educational value. This will ensure our students are equipped with the skills and knowledge they will need to thrive in the workforce of the future. About the author: Elaine Shuck is Polycom’s Global Director of Education and currently the President of the United States Distance Learning Association.
Catholic primary schools
look to the future Incoming national president of the New Zealand Catholic Primary Principals’ Association (NZCPPA) DANNY NICHOLLS says attracting suitably qualified staff is a challenge for Catholic schools.
credible and passionate educators to serve the next generation of our schools. To assist with this the NZCPPA executive regularly engages in robust debate with regional and national professional development providers and Church organisations to ensure sufficient support and resourcing is given to developing these pathways.
here are 242 Catholic primary schools in New Zealand, meaning that Catholic schools represent approximately 10 per cent of all primary schools. Supported by the New Zealand Catholic Primary Principals’ Association (NZCPPA), Catholic primary schools face a number of opportunities and challenges going forward.
The NZCPPA is the collective voice for Catholic primary school principals. The executive was established in 1995 in response to an identified need for a national group representing and advocating for the specific interests of Catholic principals. Since those early days many distinguished principals have served the executive and continue to make a strong impact and contribution to education in New Zealand. The current executive is made up of 12 members and meets each term. Two members are elected annually from each of the Catholic diocese of New Zealand (Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Otago). The executive seeks to contribute to the wider education sector as and where appropriate. This willingness to engage is reciprocated. Examples include having a representative seat at NZEI Principal Council meetings, Special Education sector meetings and NZPF Moots. We have active involvements and communications with ERO, the Ministry of Education and NZSTA, among other groups, and regularly have senior leaders from those groups attend our executive meetings.
Forging strong partnerships
As an executive we have identified a variety of opportunities as priorities in the year ahead. We see one of our strengths as a Catholic schools network being a sense of common mission, and this allows us to develop strong national networks. Initiatives such as our national Catholic Principals Conference, a Facebook page for Catholic school leaders, and annual scholarships and study awards, allow us to provide strong
Another challenge for Catholic school principals outside the main population centres can be feeling isolated from the larger Catholic schools network. While all principals value the network of local principal associations and networks, Catholic
support to our members. We are also increasing our involvement with First Time Principals and formal mentoring and support programmes. Looking ahead, a strong partnership is also developing with the two major Catholic principals’ associations in Australia and it is hoped that this will yield benefits for our members in access to professional development, resources and career opportunities in the future.
Attracting qualified and credible staff
A significant challenge for Catholic schools is the difficulty of attracting suitably qualified staff for our schools. While many schools genuinely struggle in this area, the challenge is even more pronounced in Catholic schools due to the legislative requirements to fill all ‘tagged’ positions (usually 60 per cent of all teaching roles) with practising Catholic educators. Additionally the key leadership positions of director of religious studies and principal legally must also be tagged roles. The challenge for the Catholic school system, and by extension the Catholic church, is to ensure a sustainable ‘pipeline’ of suitably qualified,
We see one of our strengths as a Catholic schools network being a sense of common mission, and this allows us to develop strong national networks.” schools bring their own specific community, legislative and governance challenges and do not always have neighbouring colleagues with similar issues to share with. Many Catholic schools are the only special character schools in their town or area. NZCPPA strives to support its members in these challenges through ongoing and regular communication with them. NZCPPA is a dynamic organisation that has increasingly become proactive about supporting members and contributing to the wider education sector. We are proud to represent and support Catholic school principals and developing further our important role within the wider education sector. We look forward to continuing this valuable work in the future. Danny Nicholls is vice president and an executive member of NZCPPA, assuming the role of national president from July. He is principal of St Patrick’s Catholic School, Taupō.
Education Review series
Leadership & PD 2016 29
Adventurous learning – inside and outside the classroom
MIKE BROWN and SIMON BEAMES discuss their new book, Adventurous Learning: A pedagogy for a changing world, which presents a framework for enhanced learning experiences.
hat was the last adventure you had? Did you plan it as part of a holiday or was it something that happened unexpectedly? The dictionary tells us that an adventure is an ‘unusual, exciting, or daring experience’. Scholars tell us its ‘outcomes cannot be predicted to any great degree’ and that it involves ‘a degree of uncertainty’. Perhaps, most importantly, an adventure is ‘a challenge that will demand the best of our capabilities – physically, mentally, emotionally’. As we dig deeper we find that meanings of adventure are individually and culturally relative. These multiple meanings may not matter much in our daily conversations, but they have become too vague for educational discussions. We believe that adventure has a role in learning, particularly in contemporary times that are marked by rapid changes. We live in a time of constantly evolving technology, increasing complexity, global migration, and uncertainty. Contemporary life has been called ‘liquid times’, to reflect the fluid nature of our careers, relationships, and everyday actions. What does all of this have to do with education, you may ask? Well, this social world has yielded the neo-liberal, market forces that have in turn shaped educational practices. Teaching and learning has morphed into bits of information being taught and tested, standardised testing is in vogue, and the curriculum narrows. Taken together, these features limit teachers’ capacities to respond to students’ individual needs. Even adventure education, premised on running counter to ‘mainstream schooling’ has fallen prey to these powerful forces. We see this in outdoor centres that have become ‘McDonaldised’, leading to programmes that are highly prescribed and predictable. In other words, they’re not very adventurous! What we’ve written points to a paradox: Life is characterised by uncertainty, change, and complexity, yet educational practices are moving in the opposite direction and becoming increasingly predictable, standardised, and rationalised.
At its most fundamental level, education needs to equip young people to thrive in a constantly changing world.”
30 Leadership & PD 2016
Education Review series
So what is the role of adventure in learning?
At its most fundamental level, education needs to equip young people to thrive in a constantly changing world. One way to achieve this is implementing adventurous learning that features uncertainty, agency, authenticity and mastery. Using uncertainty involves learning pathways and outcomes that are not fully predictable. Tasks need to offer multiple possible courses of action. Such tasks serve to elicit creative responses from students, where they imagine solutions, refine ideas, and put them into practice. Crucially, uncertain situations can only be resolved through deep reasoning and innovation. Students must have enough agency to influence what is learned and how it is learned. The key is teachers providing appropriate ‘autonomy support’ – just enough for students to have some independence, but not so much that they are powerless. Much of this involves being given the ‘right’ kinds of choices: relevant, not too many, and cognitive (i.e. about learning content, rather than minor logistics). Authenticity concerns what is ‘real’ and encountered in ordinary life experiences. An obvious starting point is the landscape’s inherent curriculum. One vital educational question that can be asked anywhere is ‘What can be learned here?’ The final feature is mastery, which is about skill and knowledge. This concept is rooted in discourses of challenge, rather than risk, and draws on theories of ‘self-efficacy’ and ‘flow’. Challenging tasks demand the acquisition of skills and knowledge to make decisions, take responsibility and action. Overcoming challenges requires tenacity, personal investment, and an ability to overcome setbacks. When viewed collectively, the adventurous learning framework can be used as a tool to help you analyse your own teaching practices and enable meaningful discussions to enrich learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Mike Brown is a senior lecturer at the University of Waikato. Simon Beames is a senior lecturer in the outdoor education section of the Moray House School of Education, the University of Edinburgh. For references to this article please visit the online version at www.educationreview.co.nz or contact email@example.com. For a preview of Adventurous Learning: A pedagogy for a changing world (Routledge, 2016) visit https://education.waikato.ac.nz/spls/ michaelb/adventurous-learning-20-discount-and-online-preview.
the classroom – environmental education
Treemendous, Garden to Table and Enviroschools programmes are transforming schools around the country – and they’re providing much more than just aesthetic benefits.
he foresight of a teacher, some willing parents and a class of enthusiastic five-year-olds was all it took to transform a small, neglected area of bark and concrete outside a new entrant class at Tahatai Coast School into a unique outdoor learning space with seats, blackboards and an edible garden. The children loved it – choosing to spend time there learning and playing. More and more schools around New Zealand are taking similar initiatives. Planting native trees, plotting out vegetable gardens, and setting up recycling and composting stations are just some of the ways schools are becoming more sustainable and savvy with their outdoor space. More schools are incorporating environmental education into their curriculum with the help of not-for-profit programmes such as Treemendous School Makeovers, Garden to Table, and Enviroschools. Over the past three years, East Tamaki School has participated in the Garden to Table programme and has increased the size of its vegetable gardens. The school’s disused swimming pool was removed and the hole was filled with soil, allowing for large gardens. The students enjoy planting, harvesting, cooking and eating the fruits and vegetables. They willingly give up their lunchtimes to sow seeds, thin out seedlings, weed the vegetable garden or just wander through to see what’s growing. Similarly, the Treemendous programme works with schools to teach children and the wider community about the importance of the environment. In 2013 Whangamata Area School won one of four Treemendous makeovers, a joint initiative between Project Crimson and the Mazda Foundation, which sees four schools selected
each year to receive a garden makeover using New Zealand native plants. The makeover completely transformed a large, unused area of the school into a space that is now regularly used as an outdoor classroom. Ian Fulton, teacher at Whangamata Area School says environmental education is really important and they always encourage students to get outdoors and appreciate what Whangamata has to offer them. “The outdoor space provides teachers and students with an interactive learning area they can use across all subjects. We find if you get the students out from behind their desks and using the outdoor classroom you get a greater level of engagement from the students.” The garden design was inspired by the local landscape, with all plants sourced from the Whangamata ecological district. A pathway that feels like a walk from the beach and into a coastal forest runs through the garden, inspired by the Whangamata landscape. A second pathway, shaped as a koru, represents the school’s symbol for new life, growth, strength and peace, and the students’ approach to learning. The makeover also included a nursery
for pīngao plants and an outdoor classroom for students to observe the natural environment. Fulton said he couldn’t be happier with the space. “Before the makeover it was just a big patch of grass that wasn’t used very often. Way back it was used as a dumping ground for the local council so it never really had a nice vibe to it. Now there are kids out there every day playing and learning. Members of the community, such as the neighbouring kindy and walking clubs, have access to the area too so it’s always busy.” Fulton said applying for a Treemendous makeover is a great educational experience for the students in itself. “We made a short film about why our school should receive a makeover and students were involved in the entire process. I guided them and made the occasional suggestion but they did the research, came up with the ideas, directed it, and filmed it. “It was good film-making experience but it also taught them skills such as project management, using their initiative and really sparked their creativity.” Applications for 2017 Treemendous makeovers open on 5 May 2016.
Education Review series
Leadership & PD 2016 31
Waiting for the phone call:
observations of a relieving teacher
TINA MULLER shares the joys and frustrations of being on call to schools for relief teaching.
have a growth mindset – I know: I completed the Growth Mindset online test on Professor Carol Dweck’s webpage. Every weekday morning I start afresh with a belief that the phone will ring. During the afternoon and evening this feeling persists... the phone will ring. I am a relieving teacher attached to my mobile and landline. The landline is upside down, flat against my mobile, and makes for easier carrying – a small bundle to hold on to. From the moment I wake I am waiting for a phone call. At breakfast the mobile is charging. No vacuuming can take place until after 10am as I won’t hear the phone and after some consideration a walk is out of the question, too far to return home and prepare for the day… just in case! Advertising myself I have attached a flier and emailed it to all my local schools. I am a competent teacher; I expect and plan for student self-reflection on their learning, which can be challenging when only in a class for the day. I look at ‘closure’ tips that may help with this.
I study Frangenheim, Ryan and Bloom’s thinking skills and decide where best to use them during the day’s plan. I peruse Sladkey’s engagement wheel and include this in the day’s plan. No phone call during breakfast and ablutions leaves me with strong emotions. This is the challenging side of relieving – the inconsistency of available work. Socially, relievers are not considered as part of a school and are left out of celebrations or social get-togethers, and as such, develop strong resilience. It is a great principal who recognises a reliever’s worth and thanks them. I plan for energisers between lessons and use fast factual sweeps of compliments to those students who are ready to learn hoping that this encourages those off-task students to return to expected norms. Through an online relievers’ group I still read articles about education. Both rewarding and challenging can be the fact that I am in a room of students who do not know me, or vice-versa and who may never meet me again. Teacher aides are truly a blessing in these situations.
Also rewarding are the teachers who have strong classroom routines that students follow. A school that hands out a folder with classroom information, school bell times and photos of the students is one that cares. Technology can be integrated into all classroom work yet a further challenge is that few schools will have a laptop for me to work from and so incorporate the internet into the classroom. Lastly, I remember to keep some evidence to add to my portfolio as proof that I have in fact been teaching. Through dedication to teaching I remind myself I have ‘yet’ to hear the phone ring!
How schools can help relief teachers Have strong classroom routines. Provide classroom and school information. Provide named photos of students. Provide laptop so ICT can be incorporated. Include relievers in school social functions. Show relievers recognition; say thank you!
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The best time to start a garden is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
And Treemendous would love to help you do just that for your school. Right now weâ€™re looking for schools to award a $10K grant to transform a part of their grounds into a new green space and outdoor learning area. See how you can enter by heading over to treemendous.org.nz