I’m very pleased to announce that NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education have agreed to the final outcomes of the first phase of the Joint Initiative. The main outcome is the development of a new “Community of Learning” model, based on what the sector and research told us really works to support children’s learning.
It’s hugely important that teachers speak up and shape system change, not just have it done to us. We can be in no doubt that the IES policy announced last year proposes fundamental changes to our education system. That’s why we progressed the Joint Initiative, taking a member-driven approach, because it’s so critical that educators are genuinely involved in change.
Now it’s time for you to have your say about the outcomes of the first phase of the Joint Initiative.
It is in the hands of members to determine the next steps and decide what direction you give to your negotiating team about whether to vary your collective agreements next month. Because the Community of Learning is a “package” we are proposing to bargain variations to both teacher and principal collective agreements together.
I strongly encourage you to attend your worksite meeting and vote on the outcome. Primary and area school worksite reps have been sent a meeting pack, so please talk to your rep about when your site meeting is taking place.
Key points of the agreement are listed below and you can read the full agreement and the Working Party documents at www.nzei.org.nz/joint-initiative
An important part of the agreement is a commitment to phase 2 of the Joint Initiative. This will look in more detail at possible roles and resourcing for support staff and ECE teachers in the Communities of Learning. Phase 2 will also address Maori and Pasifika learner success, special education and professional learning and development.
We have got this far because NZEI members have fought collectively for a child-centred, workable model that can be responsive to local needs and can change over time.
We believe the new model is an exciting educational development, genuinely shaped by educators. Inevitably, as with any negotiations, we have had to make compromises, but we are confident that the progress we have made will genuinely improve teaching and learning.
Louise Green, NZEI Te Riu Roa President/Te Manukura
What are the key elements of Communities of Learning?
1. Children at the centre
The name “Communities of learning” says it all really — it’s about children’s learning rather than more efficient administrative structures being the key driver for system change. So it includes the critical change of including the child’s whole pathway from early learning up.
2. New teaching roles to support learners’ transitions, cultural competency and better community engagement
Along with a focus on collaborative inquiry and expertise building, communities can chose teaching roles that focus on support for children with particular challenges in transition from ECE to school or within and across schools, or better family and community engagement or cultural competency to meet Maori and Pasifika learners’ needs. For example, an across school teaching role with a focus on transition could help families with special needs kids who need extra support when their child moves from kindergarten to school and/or work with other teachers across their community to ensure all schools and services have effective transition programmes.
3. Shared leadership
Along with a community leader, learning communities can chose from a range of leadership roles their community needs, rather than have one leader doing it all. This means important leadership skills like facilitation, curriculum expertise, coaching and mentoring and teaching skills can be recognised, and reflected in principals’ career pathways.
4. Flexible and responsive
Communities can better meet the needs of their kids and local community because they can choose the money, time and people they need. The model is responsive and flexible, with the choice of time, money and people shaped to a large extent by the community itself, rather than a one-size fits all model imposed by Government. There will still be required roles (teachers working across and within schools and a leader) but there are a range of options for their focus.
5. Pool time and money
Communities will be able to pool time and money to ensure teachers can get together at times that will least impact on their relationships with kids/best suit their own communities. The model recognises that due to the nature of primary schooling and ECE services, more time is a critical component if teachers are to genuinely collaborate together.
You can read the full agreement, details about the next phase of the Joint Initiative and the Working Party’s report at www.nzei.org.nz/joint-initiative