Investing in Educational Success (IES) is a Government initiative aimed at lifting student achievement as well as offering new career opportunities for teachers and principals. IES has been designed with this in mind, and is intended to help raise achievement by:

  • improving teaching practice across New Zealand
  • enabling teachers to work together and benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience
  • helping all children benefit from the skills and knowledge of great teachers from across a group of schools/early learning services
  • helping schools work together so it is easier for children to transition through the education system.1

We know that the most important influence on student achievement and progress is the effectiveness of teaching.2 The evidence tells us that there is a difference between experienced and expert teachers and that some teaching practices have a higher probability of being successful in promoting learning than others. One way of addressing the challenge of variability is to shift the system and organisational focus to collaborative expertise and student progression.3

In collaborative cultures, responsibility for the success of all students is shared among all members of the community. Provision of the necessary support, time and resources enables teachers to work collaboratively to diagnose students’ learning needs, determine what they need to focus on, plan effective programmes and teaching interventions and evaluate how successful these are in promoting achievement across the learning pathway.

Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako (CoL) are the hub of the IES initiative. They form around learning pathways for children and young people. CoL | Kāhui Ako provide opportunities to build knowledge and expertise, and stimulate improvement and innovation. CoL | Kāhui Ako provide an important opportunity to improve teaching and learning through collaboration.

This is the first of a series of iterative reports which draw together what ERO  knows about CoL | Kāhui Ako, as they move from establishment to implementation. This report is based on information collected from schools (that are already members of a CoL | Kāhui Ako) during their regular ERO evaluations; information gained from the workshops ERO has conducted with CoL | Kāhui Ako and from the in-depth work we are doing alongside one CoL | Kāhui Ako.4 ERO will look to tell the developing story of CoL | Kāhui Ako in this series of reports.

The report has been written to reflect the structure of ERO’s draft document Collaboration to improve learner outcomes and its companion framework Working towards collaborative practice. These documents have been designed to support the development and evaluation of CoL | Kāhui Ako. They bring together what international research evidence tells us about effective collaboration in education networks and communities. They can be used in conjunction with School Evaluation Indicators: Effective Practice for Improvement and Learner Success (2016) and Effective School Evaluation: How to do and use internal evaluation for improvement (2016).

At the time of this report there are 148 CoL | Kāhui Ako spread throughout New Zealand. Most (70%) are at the development phase, prior to endorsement of their achievement challenges. It is at this time that they are discussing and agreeing the ways they will work together, establishing their unique identity, building the relational trust necessary for effective collaboration and interrogating data to identify their shared focus around a set of achievement challenges.

This process takes time and, if done well, provides a sound foundation from which CoL | Kāhui Ako can begin to work collaboratively to build an infrastructure, theory of improvement and operating principles to support high quality teaching practices and improved achievement.

A CoL | Kāhui Ako reaches the point of implementation when its achievement challenges have been endorsed and a Memorandum of Agreement is signed by all members of the CoL | Kāhui Ako. At the time of this report there were 43 CoL | Kāhui Ako at different stages in their implementation process. There are some innovative and exciting practices underway, but there remains a lot to be learnt from CoL | Kāhui Ako as they develop and share what works well and what could be done better.




1        http://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/specific-initiatives/investing-in-educational-success/

2        Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality teaching for diverse students: Best evidence synthesis. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

3        Hattie, J. (2015). What works best in education: The politics of collaborative expertise. London: Pearson.

4        Information collected in Terms 2 and 3, 2016 from 82 schools representing 40% of the current 148 CoL and 20 workshops conducted nationally during 2015 and 2016