Taking a network lens

Issue: Volume 99, Number 18

Posted: 5 November 2020
Reference #: 1HADqk

Reducing the number of out-of-zone enrolments is just one part of a commitment made by Christchurch schools to prioritise collaboration over competition.

Following an independent review by KPMG(external link), which found some Christchurch schools were oversubscribed with out of zone enrolments while other schools had capacity, 13 schools have formed a Memorandum of Understanding to reduce the number of out-of-zone enrolments.

One of these schools is Linwood College, which has experienced steady roll growth over the past three years. Principal Dick Edmundson says it’s about recognising the purpose of education as a force for individual and social good.

“We’re trying to do the right thing, both morally and ethically.”

Working together post-earthquake

Dick says the effects of the Christchurch earthquakes and Covid-19 have compounded some of the inequities and competition created by the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms.

“The catalyst for us was post-earthquake. The wider Christchurch community came to the realisation that there would be a lot of physical rebuilding required, and we wanted to take the opportunity to socially rebuild as well.

“We recognised there were economic and social divides in our communities. And we recognised that school zoning policies were contributing to existing inequities. What did we have in our power to rectify this?”

Dick says Christchurch principals and boards reached consensus that they did not want to reinvent what they had prior to the earthquakes. Schools were united in their desire for change.

“We took a network lens on our actions. There was a genuine desire for schools to take practical steps to be the best school for their community but to also think about our neighbouring communities. We consciously looked at how our schools can help support each community rather than poaching from each other.”

Spirit of collaboration

Phil Holstein, principal of Burnside High School and president of the Canterbury and West Coast Secondary Principals’ Association says the approach has enabled a greater sense of trust between schools.

“We had a vision of delivering equity of provision and access and we recognised that all schools are providing a quality education for their students.

“I’m so proud that we’re doing this in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation. We now have a willingness, intent and commitment to meet our requirements of the Memorandum of Understanding. We all agreed to do this. Legislatively we are not required to do this, but this is the right thing to do.”

The Ministry of Education’s Director of Education for Canterbury, Coralanne Child, agrees.

“Our secondary school partnerships and the commitment of our principals has already produced positive joint practices this year, particularly their work to promote and support in-zone behaviour.

“While still respecting their communities, our principals have looked beyond their individual schools to strengthen a schooling network that provides the best quality of education to all students.”

Phil says the collaboration extends beyond enrolment schemes.

“We’re trying to break down the competition between schools that has evolved from Tomorrow’s Schools reforms and for me it’s really important that we are working together for the greater good for our schools, for our students and the greater Christchurch community.

“And that is the thing I’m most proud of, because we did it ourselves. It wasn’t forced on us and because of that, I believe will be successful.”

Burnside High School principal Phil Holstein (above) says a collaborative approach is helping provide a quality education for learners across the wider Christchurch community.

Enrolment schemes

The Education and Training Act 2020 is making some changes to the way enrolment schemes are developed and operated. These will see the Ministry of Education take responsibility for developing enrolment schemes where overcrowding in schools is likely to be an issue, working with schools and their communities in the process.

Revised Guidelines and Instructions for Enrolment Schemes will be produced before December 2020.

Until 1 January 2021, enrolment schemes are to be developed and operated under the existing guidance and legislation.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 10:46 am, 5 November 2020

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