Growing momentum around Communities of Learning│Kāhui Ako

Issue: Volume 96, Number 6

Posted: 10 April 2017
Reference #: 1H9d7N

Our Communities of Learning |Kāhui Ako are “growing momentum”, show “high levels of shared purpose and commitment”, and are “confident about their capacity to use student data to identify their achievement challenges”, according to a December 2016 report, drawing on research by the Ministry of Education and other education agencies.

Communities of Learning are part of a $359m initiative to get our early learning services, schools and tertiary institutions working together to lift education achievement for all our children and young people.

Kāhui Ako help raise the quality of teaching and leadership through collaborative enquiry and the sharing of best practice across the education sector. Communities set shared achievement challenges to raise student performance. Three new roles, Community Leader, Across Community of Learning Teacher, and Within School Teacher, have been created, and are appointed by communities, to work across and within schools to support and share effective school leadership and practice.

When the report was done, there were 180 Kāhui Ako, comprising 1,503 schools, 95 early learning services, and three tertiary providers. These 180 communities involve over 495,000 students.

The report’s main findings include:

  • Communities of Learning are ‘growing in momentum’. Approval and achievement challenges have accelerated during 2016. Almost two-thirds of eligible students (66 per cent) and eligible schools (62 per cent) were in communities by the end of 2016.

  • The first achievement challenges for a community were endorsed in July 2015. Since then endorsements have gathered pace. By December 2016, there were 54 communities with endorsed achievement challenges, involving 24 per cent of eligible students.

  • Kāhui Ako have many achievement challenges in common, such as in reading, writing, mathematics and NCEA Level 2. This emphasis is to be expected as these areas are where there is school by school and nationally collected data.

  • The achievement challenges set reflect local characteristics – such as decile and the number and composition of members and students – and so the challenges vary in scale, scope and ambition. Understanding these characteristics is critical to ensuring that services and supports for communities are responsive and targeted to what they need to be successful. 

  • As at mid-November 2016, 35 Community of Learning leaders, 80 across-community teachers and 352 within-school teachers had started in their roles. Because the model takes account of local conditions, including the achievement levels of its students, each community will use these roles quite differently.

  • Communities see improving achievement, collaborative professional enquiry and improving teacher practice as their key purpose. Most teachers and leaders share an understanding of their achievement challenges, and feel they can work with their data to identify these. But there is less clarity around addressing these challenges because most communities are just starting their action planning, including comparing how their schools measure achievement.

  • The number of learners covered by Communities of Learning varies considerably. Numbers range from over 8,000 to under 1,000. Over a quarter of communities have been five and eight schools; two have 20 or more schools.

  • Principals have been the biggest contributor to progress around establishment. They have been involved in recruiting the Community Leader, reaching agreement on the vision and goals, and identifying some achievement challenges. To date, board and parents, family and whāhau have had more limited involvement. These involvements need to be better developed.

  • Early learning services engagement is just emerging; 95 (or 2 percent) of early learning services belonged to communities in December 2016. But numbers are starting to pick up.

Overall, the report notes that “strong foundations for collective impact and productive collaboration” are in place in our communities, and that, overall, ‘there are many positive indications that communities...are making a strong start in their implementation journey.”

The report, Communities of Learning|Kāhui Ako Uptake and early implementation report-December 2016, will soon be available on the Ministry website.

The Ministry of Education has a number of supports either in place, or that will be progressively available, to assist help Kāhui Ako.

These include:

  • Allowing Community of Learning Leaders to be appointed before achievement challenges are endorsed to progress the building and development of the community.

  • 104 Expert Partners are helping communities strengthen their inquiry-based teaching practices (evidence gathering, problem definition and evidence-informed action planning) and assisting them to develop quality achievement challenges. Expert Partners are also helping Kāhui Ako to develop personalised learning pathways for every learner. They have been available since the start of 2017.
  • A Development Map to help Kāhui Ako with progress in areas such the development of collaborative teaching, gathering evidence to support their practice and actions, and in building learning pathways and partnerships with families, iwi, employers and communities. These are available in PDF format here(external link) 

  • Change Managers will be available to all Kāhui Ako from July 2017. These managers can help communities find more effective ways to share resources, budgets and operations within and between them in order to work as a more connected and collaborative unit. These managers will also assist communities to work with school boards, and to communicate effectively with parents and communities.

  • A Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako Local Curriculum Smart Tool. When fully developed, it will assist Kāhui Ako to build a quality shared local curriculum, focussed on learners along their entire education pathway. It will also help communities to share innovative teaching practices, and to develop the use of assessment as evidence of progress across the curriculum. The tool will also allow Kāhui Ako to consider the place of te ao Māori and tikanga Māori in their Community. This tool will be progressively available from late April 2017.

  • Guidance on building productive partnerships with iwi, Pasifika, local communities, and between teachers and their Māori and Pasifika students, is being provided to Communities of Learning by Regional Directors. A variety of tools, such as Pasifika PowerUp Plus, and Whānau Education Action Plans, are being made available to Kāhui Ako to assist in building these partnerships, and to help raise the achievement of Māori and Pasifika students.

  • Ministry of Education staff are developing links between early learning services and Kāhui Ako. These staff are also helping to guide Kahui Ako in connecting with early learning services that best fit their learning pathway, and to provide data to show where children from local services are going to and have come from.

A toolkit of the supports available to Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako can be found on the Kahuiako website(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 7:33 pm, 10 April 2017

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