Working with the wider community

Successful Kāhui Ako understood the necessity of working with and across the wider community to clarify expectations and develop desired approaches to improving educational outcomes for children.

Northcote

Bringing the community together

The Northcote Kāhui Ako acknowledged the importance of recognising parents, whānau and community as key influences on children’s learning, wellbeing and self‑efficacy. This led to a commitment to build and share learning strategies with parents, whānau, and the community to support learners’ achievement and success. The vision for this endeavour was described as:

  • working together to identify agreed values, student strengths, learning needs, and responsive learning strategies
  • developing a variety of strategies to communicate with and engage parents and whānau in activities to improve learning
  • recognising, respecting, and valuing diverse identities, languages, and cultures of the school community.

Strong relational trust

This vision, combined with strong relational trust in the Northcote community, laid the foundation for effective operations from the outset. The action plan, developed in 2017, to implement their vision began with getting to know their kura and ELS and collaboratively investigating the values and beliefs that teachers, parents, and learners hold about teaching and learning. The end‑of‑year report shows significant progress in implementing an action plan, and a renewed effort to address issues identified through noticing, investigating and collaborative sense‑making processes.

The process of knitting together the vision of success of schools, teachers, and whānau for their learners with the support of the three roles – lead principal, AST, and WST ‑ drives Northcote Kāhui Ako efforts and reaffirms their commitment to act as a professional learning community.

Ōtūmoetai

Relationship building with early learning services

Participating in the Ōtūmoetai Kāhui Ako led participants to become more aware of the need to work across educational pathways to meet the challenges of raising achievement. This led to more active engagement with ELS, and finding ways to involve them in the work of the Kāhui Ako. The Kāhui Ako lead played an important role helping to overcome some of the participation barriers ELS face. Key enablers that led to fostering strong relationships with ELS included:

  • a commitment to making participation work, reflecting a belief in the intrinsic value collaboration offers to learners and their whānau
  • creating value for ELS to enable them to overcome barriers linked to resourcing. PLD around oral language (an achievement challenge) was scheduled to ensure ELS leaders and teachers could attend.  High attendance at the PLD workshops from these leaders and teachers, and plans to bring the PLD facilitator into the ELS to observe and model teaching strategies, enhanced the value of Kāhui Ako for them. As noted by the ELS’ representative, participation in joint PLD is “bridging the ECE‑school divide”.
  • ELS representation on the steering committee to enact authentic and meaningful engagement. The Kāhui Ako explicitly requested and accepted nominations from the ELS for two representatives to be on the Kāhui Ako steering committee, and this broke down barriers and created the trust required for collaboration.

Other agency support for students

The relationship established with the local District Health Board is another example of innovation fuelled by the collaboration. The Bay of Plenty District Health Board and the Ministry’s Bay of Plenty Waiariki region was looking to pilot a school‑based mental health service in a Kāhui Ako. The Ōtūmoetai Kāhui Ako was ideal as it includes settings along the education pathway from ELS through to secondary level. The decision to be a part of the pilot was made easy as the Kāhui Ako had already identified student wellbeing as a key achievement challenge for all participants. Having a dedicated registered mental health professional working with children and young people across the Kāhui Ako, as well as supporting whānau and teaching staff to understand mental health and other related issues that may affect a child’s learning was seen as a positive by the schools. Participants also acknowledged this was possible only due to the collaboration – “Being part of the Kāhui Ako is empowering us to tackle some of the bigger challenges impeding learning”.