Teachers congregate to understand learning needs, improve outcomes

Kahui Ako executive principal Paddy Ford and Vision Education director Alison Davis at the...
Kahui Ako executive principal Paddy Ford and Vision Education director Alison Davis at the Community of Learning meeting for South Otago teachers yesterday. Photo: Samuel White
More than 100 teachers and principals from several secondary, primary and early childhood centres met in Balclutha this week to discuss the learning needs of pupils in the South Otago community.

The "Big River Cluster Kahui Ako Community of Learning" (Kahui Ako) was formally established in the Clutha area this year and is made up of several schools and early childhood centres.

This included South Otago High School and Rosebank, Balclutha, Clutha Valley, Kaitangata, Clinton, Romahapa, Warepa, St Joseph’s, Waiwera South, Stirling, Tahakopa primary schools as well as and all kindergartens and early childhood centres in the district.

About 75 teachers met yesterday and 25 met on Wednesday at the Balclutha Town and Country Club to discuss pupils’ learning needs and goals surrounding their achievement.

Vision Education director Alison Davis was there to oversee the event in collaboration with Kahui Ako executive principal Paddy Ford.

Dr Davis said the teachers were there to  undertake workshops and come up with a district plan and goals for the community of learning.

While there were national standards the schools had to adhere to, there were ways to personalise the plan to better suit their community’s needs.

The schools wanted to focus on improving writing and literature skills as well as mathematics.

It  identified pupils in the district achieved NCEA overall but  fewer were achieving with merit or excellence endorsements.

Part of the discussions and workshops at the meeting yesterday were to find ways to address those issues.

Mr Ford said  it took two years of discussion to "get to this point" and the  group now had a plan for the next two years.

"Teachers in the district work very hard to address the learning needs of students in our community," Mr Ford said said.

Kahui Ako’s job was to access professional development opportunities to meet the area’s challenges. This included improving opportunities in leadership, the use of digital technology and transition points between different levels of schooling.

"We have appointed two ‘across-school’ teachers who work two days a week for the community of learning," Mr Ford said.

Ten "within-school" teachers will be appointed who are able to work for two hours on the challenges established by Kahui Ako.

There will be another community of learning group based around Milton.

Area Schools also had their own community of learning.

Similar groups would be formed in Dunedin and Invercargill.

samuel.white@odt.co.nz

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