1493616398009 - South Canterbury schools involved in Communities of Learning double
Education

South Canterbury schools involved in Communities of Learning double

More than 80 per cent of South Canterbury schools are involved in a Community of Learning (COL).

The number of schools involved across the region has doubled in the past 12 months to April, from 18 to 37.

That meant 7508 students, of South Canterbury’s 9028 students as of July, 2016, studied at schools participating in one or more clusters.

Glenavy School joined the Oamaru/Whitestone COL in April last year.

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Principal Kate Mansfield said her aim was to have a clear transition from primary school to high school.

While the COL was set up more than a year ago, it was a time-intensive process and the schools were still meeting to progress it, she said.

Joining a COL had been a proactive approach to create a “clear pathway through schools”, Mansfield said.

“Lots of schools are not getting on board, but our students can only get benefits from it.”

Working in a cluster meant best practice could be shared between schools, she said.

Pleasant Point Primary School principal Mark Creba said his school officially joined the North Timaru COL in December last year.

“It’s very exciting for our region,” Creba said.

He was pleased with the increasing number of schools involved.

“Schools have been collaborating professionally for a long time, but I think it’s a new kind of collaboration,” Creba said.

COLs could include early education centres to tertiary institutions, which created a “pathway right through a child’s education”.

It was certainly not a “overnight process” as the cluster had yet to finalise its vision or governance group.

But Creba saw the process as an important step in the future development of the region’s education system.

“We need to be thoughtful in the way we work together,” he said.

“I think all schools involved are excited about the potential.”

The Waimate Community of Learning was the first to be established in Canterbury as part of the government’s Investing in Education Success $359 million initiative aimed at raising student achievement.

Each COL had a leadership role and up to three across-school teacher roles as well as up to 14 within-school teacher roles across the region.

Ministry sector enablement and support deputy secretary Katrina Casey said there were five COLs that had 18 members in April, 2016.

That included Geraldine, Oamaru, South Canterbury Catholic, Southern Area Schools and Waimate Communities of Learning.

Three additional COLs had joined, including Mackenzie District, North Timaru and South Timaru.

Not all schools in a cluster were located in the same region, Casey said.