Outline of Waipaparoa
Both as a collective and as individual schools, we are committed to preparing our students for success. Drawing on the strengths of our collaboration, in positive and respectful relationships, we will guide our students to realise their individual potential and social responsibility in our complex and rapidly changing world through enhancing their agency as lifelong learners, their critical thinking, and communicative literacy. We believe our students can be active contributors and leaders in their communities.
We acknowledge and embrace
• the need to be future focused
• the different challenges faced and opportunities presented at different stages of the education pathway
• scaffolding pathways for our learners to improve their achievement
• student collaboration in the development and ongoing operation of the CoL
• understanding and responding to the needs and wishes of our communities
• the individual character and self-management of each school
• the diversity of experience and expertise that CoL members bring to the group
• being committed to working for our schools’ collective benefit
• taking collective responsibility
• knowing and caring deeply about each other’s schools and students
• building strong relationships that encourage and allow us to challenge and critique
• having an open, growth mindset and being solution focused
• developing ongoing cycles of inquiry and improvement
• building leadership capacity
• identifying and leveraging expertise
• maximising resources for our collective benefit.
Who we are and our current strengths
The seven schools that form the Waipaparoa CoL are located within a 7km radius and their catchments cover mainly urban areas with some semi-rural geography. Although Howick is a well-established area with a strong heritage, a significant part of the Botany area encompassed by our schools is relatively recently developed over the past 20 years. This area has attracted immigrants from a wide range of countries particularly Asia and the Middle East and as a result schools have noticed the changing ethnic composition of their student bodies and a marked increase in the number of new learners of English language. Waipaparoa CoL serves an ethnically diverse community. About half of the students are Pākehā. Māori and Pacific students make up 12% and a third of the students have Asian heritage or are from other parts of the world, schools have developed a range of successful strategies to engage with their communities and this cultural responsiveness will continue to be a focus for development and sharing.
Overall the schools’ communities are relatively affluent and all the schools have had high decile ratings. On the whole our students are well resourced, willing to attend school and are enthusiastic to learn. Parents and caregivers of our students generally hold high expectations for their achievement and for our schools to meet their children’s personal, social and academic developmental needs.
Achievement Challenge 1: Increase learner agency
How we see learner agency and why it matters Simply stated; to have agency is to possess the ability to exercise influence over one’s circumstances (Crowhurst 2018).
Learner agency means that students are able to take charge of their learning in ways that increase their motivation and continually improve their knowledge and skills. It’s the capacity to set useful goals and next learning steps based on learning needs, plan and organise well, self-monitor, and evaluate how well goals have been met.
Strong learner agency is fundamental to students being successful lifelong learners, well- equipped with useful strategies for their learning. Students who are scaffolded to take charge of their learning can achieve more in their learning3 and lives.
How we can increase learner agency Learners need to have the skills and appropriate opportunities to express their agency.
Deliberate teaching of metacognitive skills and self-regulation such as thinking aloud, self-questioning, help-seeking, dealing with distractors, setting appropriate goals, tracking progress towards them, appropriately adjusting learning strategies and accurately assessing outcomes develops learner agency. Scaffolding learner agency
3 Examples of gains in achievement through a focus on learner agency include St John Bosco school http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Curriculum-stories/School-snapshots/St-John-Bosco-School and East Taeri school http://www.ero.govt.nz/publications/teaching-approaches-and-strategies-that-work/developing-student-agency-and-motivation- through-effective-teacher-practices-and-inquiry/
supports students’ engagement in learning, and deepens their internal motivation to learn and improve, and their resilience in learning. It is supported by trustful and respectful relationships. Feedback from students is used by teachers to improve their work with students, modelling learner agency themselves.
Opportunities are given that enable students to grow and experience agency and its uses and rewards, through enabling them to contribute to the wellbeing of the school and its community.4
Our goal: We will increase students’ opportunities to develop and exercise agency and their rating of their own exercise of agency in learning, as measured by growth in the proportion of students who give ratings of ‘very often’ and ‘often’, and in the proportion of teachers who say that they provide opportunities related to student agency and critical inquiry ‘very well’ and ‘well’. Other measures will include qualitative accounts of growth in learner agency and critical thinking in the context of teachers’ and leaders’ inquiries to improve learning.
Achievement Challenge 2 Critical Inquiry
How we see critical inquiry and why it matters Critical inquiry is an important type of capability for all students to develop. It demands both critical and creative thinking. It includes activities such as gathering and interpreting data; using evidence to support ideas; and critiquing evidence. Critical inquiry helps build students’ awareness of how new knowledge claims are made and justified, enabling them to be well informed and contribute effectively as citizens as well as in the workplace and in family decisions. It will help them ‘optimise the benefits and reduce the risks’ of our digital world.2
The research literature suggests that critiquing evidence is the hardest aspect of critical inquiry to develop. With practice and support, students learn that they need to keep an open mind as they set aside their own ideas to consider other possible explanations. Being culturally responsive is an integral part of this process. Doing so requires both critical thinking and perspective-taking, which takes self-discipline and self-awareness (both aspects of managing self). In learning areas like health/PE and social studies critique could involve students in identifying their own assumptions and values, and then comparing them with those of others.
Perhaps the most common form of classroom-based inquiry is informational. Rather than directly learning about how knowledge is created in a discipline area, students use aspects of their inquiry capabilities to learn to be more discerning about knowledge sources. They gain practice in such challenges such as dealing with conflicting evidence (which is about both interpretation and critique). In this way the inquiry capabilities can also build towards “information literacy”.
5 McNaughton, S. & Gluckman, P. (2018). A Commentary on Digital Futures and Education. Wellington: Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. p. 8. http://www.pmcsa.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/18-04-06-Digital-Futures-and-Education.pdf
The principals’ leadership group had a workshop with Dr Rosemary Hipkins, NZCER to grow our understanding of critical inquiry, whose notes for us we have used above. We will use her framework of what critical inquiry looks like at different stages of students’ schooling journey to support teachers’ inquiry to improve our students’ critical inquiry, and to develop measures from evidence of what our students do. This framework is attached as Appendix B. Her work enables us to undertake some innovative work which should also benefit other CoLs.
Our goal: We will improve our students’ critical inquiry capability, increasing the proportion of students who show good levels of critical inquiry appropriate to their schooling level.
Achievement Challenge 3 Literacy
Our focus in literacy, and why it matters Good literacy levels are key to so much learning, understanding, and ability to contribute in work, family and society. We particularly want to strengthen our students’ communicative capability, in listening and discussing, and their writing for different audiences.
Our goal: We will continually increase the proportion of students who show good levels of oral language skills and writing.