Making the decision to form a community requires shifts in thinking and practice. For many leaders, teachers, students and parents, families and whānau, their school is the teaching and learning unit they know best. While this does not change, the big challenge is to reframe the way we have been thinking about  and organising our system for over a quarter of a century.

As schools and services form together there are big questions to ask and most of these begin with ‘why’ or ‘what’. These questions are important because the answers give clarity to the purpose for establishment. They help define the unique nature of each CoL | Kāhui Ako and most importantly these questions help to place the focus firmly on the benefit of collaboration for improved student outcomes.

Creating a culture of collective responsibility is at the heart of how an effective CoL | Kāhui Ako operates. Leaders in newly created roles in each CoL | Kāhui Ako have a critical role in leading the development of a compelling, collective vision and priority goals and targets that represent the perspectives and aspirations of all community participants, particularly students, parents and whānau. It is a collective commitment to the community of what matters in teaching, learning and student outcomes and all members of the community need to ‘buy in’ to this commitment  for it to be successful.

There is a growing body of evidence about how collaborative networks are developing in jurisdictions other than New Zealand. As a country, there are lessons we can learn and insights we can gain from what is working and what is not. New Zealand, however, is different because we are building a country-wide system of communities rather than regional or district networks. Most CoL | Kāhui Ako are early in the stage of their development and there is much be learnt from each unique experience as CoL | Kāhui Ako develop and share what they are finding works well and not so well. This report seeks to reflect some of the early findings about CoL | Kāhui Ako and add to this knowledge base.