Alfriston College: At the heart of this new school is a strong focus on whanaungatanga that begins with the students and extends throughout the school and into the community. Within the school teachers are committed to cycles of critical reflection driven by student evidence and ongoing attention to improving pedagogy.
Comments are provided by the Principal, two Te Kotahitanga Facilitators and a teacher regarding the ways in which an alignment between Te Kotahitanga and school wide systems and structures have ensured a focus on Māori achievement. These include comments about:
- focusing on school wide Māori achievement
- understanding the ongoing need to focus on teaching and learning
- making links between the existing systems and structures and Te Kotahitanga
- developing systems within the school
- developing staff – student relationships
- linking learning area goals to Te Kotahitanga
- sharing and learning across the learning areas.
"...the things that we'd done just let Te Kotahitanga blend through, weave through as opposed to sit on top of and in conflict with." (Principal)
"It's about how the staff work with the kids and work with each other to find what is right for both." (Principal)
"It's been really beneficial having these sessions where the other Learning areas are feeding back to you...the feed forward especially, some of it has been very challenging to think about and really made us think oh are we doing the right thing or could we be doing it better and pushed us in the right direction." (Teacher)
"...It's provided a process for safe sharing of information...you feel challenged not threatened." (Principal)
Things to think about:
Question Focus - Those new to Te Kotahitanga:
- At the time of filming, Alfriston College had been involved in Te Kotahitanga for four years and they had let Te Kotahitanga blend with the culture of the school. What ideas can you take from this DVD and how might these ideas fit within your school?
- What similarities or differences are there in your own school's philosophy with that of the Alfriston College story?
- Alfriston College facilitators talk about their desire to have Māori students' learning and achievement as a core aspect of the agenda at all curriculum meetings. In what ways might such a focus influence outcomes for Māori students?
Question Focus - Participants in the Te Kotahitanga Professional Development Programme:
- In what ways does your school maintain a focus on Māori student achievement?
- Are there points of conflict between your existing systems and structures and Te Kotahitanga? In what ways might these be addressed? Who should be involved in this process?
- In what ways might the sharing of learning area and departmental goals and strategies across the school contribute to improved outcomes for Māori students?
Question Focus - In-school Facilitators and Senior Leadership Team Members:
- To what extent is the success of Te Kotahitanga in this school aided by the fact that Alfriston College is newly established? Why do you think this?
- What role do you see for middle managers within Te Kotahitanga? What is the most effective way to bring middle managers into Te Kotahitanga?
- What links do you see in this story between Te Kotahitanga and the elements of GPILSEO?
Susan Impey (Principal): “Maori achievement’s always been a really key driver of our board and all the staff.”
Sue Tetley (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator): “There’s still a need for teachers to focus on their teaching, and the teaching and learning of Māori students for the Māori students to achieve.”
Wayne Rangihuna (Te Kotahitanga Facilitator): “Alfriston College opened in, ah, 2004, and, ah, I arrived here 2005, and ever since I’ve been here, there’s this thing called the AC Way. It’s to do with pedagogy, the philosophy behind things that happen within Alfriston College and then a couple of years ago, oh, actually nearly three now, I got involved with, ah, Te Kotahitanga, it’s about marrying the two together.”
Susan: “Then everything sort of started to do dove tail. The things that we’d done just let Te Kotahitanga blend through and weave through as opposed to sit on top of and conflict with.”
Sharra Martin (Head of Learnig Area Science): “A lot of it is embedded in the Alfriston philosophy so it’s, you’ve probably seen it in classes like having the do nows. Getting them in there settled, doing the do nows, then we have the learning time and finish the lesson off with a reflection, so those kind of systems are all in place. The whānau system is structured around creating relationships so that you’ve got like a school within a school. So every person feels like there’s someone that they’re close to, that they can go to if they need help.”
Sue: “In fact just to illustrate how manākitanga has become embedded in the school, we no longer have students who are stood down because of bad behavior in the classroom, it’s difficulties that happen outside in the playgrounds.”
Susan: “You could take the buildings away, you could actually take the buildings away, I’m absolutely convinced on that, but it’s about how the staff work with kids and work with each other to find what is right for both.”
Sue: “We want the achievement in Māori students to be on every learning area agenda, for every learning area meeting, so in order to do that we need to have people making goals for raising achievement in Māori students. So we hit upon the idea of having learning area goals that would be based on the Te Kotahitanga process, but they present them once a term to the rest of the staff so that everybody can hear what they’re doing. They can learn from each other and modify what other people are doing, perhaps to fit their own goal.”
Sharra: “They were again kids that were disengaged generally and they just took complete control of their learning, they were passionate about it, they were excited about it. It’s been really beneficial having the sessions where the other learning areas are feeding back to you, and so getting that information back has been great. The feed forward especially has been, um, some of it has been very challenging to think about and really made us think, ‘Oh are we doing the right thing or could we be doing it better?’ And pushed us in the right direction. It’s also been fantastic hearing what the other departments are doing, and we’ve actually adopted strategies from what some of the other departments have been doing.
“It’s been really, really good having that feedback from other learning areas and seeing what, um, kinds of things other learning areas can do, because it just starts to give you that idea or flicker of, ‘Hey maybe we could do something like that in our learning area,’ or, or, ‘If we modify that a little bit then that would work really well.’”
Susan: “Its provided some research and some deep grounded philosophical beliefs behind what we were doing a lot of anyway, in a bit of unchartered waters so it’s probably put a really neat framework around it. It’s provided a process for safe sharing of information. By safe I mean that you know that it’s going to be done in a way that you feel challenged and not threatened I, I suppose. It’s given the whole staff a deeper belief in, in what we were doing.“
Sue: “I think the saying that what works for Māori students works for all, and what works for all students doesn't necessarily work for Māori students, and I think what we’ve got going at Alfriston works for all students but we have to have that component in there that works for Māori students as well.”