Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Joint Initiative - A Better Plan

(Wordle based on the Joint Initiative Working Party Report)

Today the NZEI released details of the Joint Initiative - a plan forward with the MoE instead of the IES that was rejected by the NZEI collective.

Communities of Learning instead of Communities of Schools
The aim of this initiative is to give more emphasis on collaboratively improving students achievement outcomes and less on the roles and admin of a system change that was being proposed through IES.

Is it just the same thing but dressed up differently using different eduspeak? I am sure members will be discussing that as they meet to vote on this over the coming few weeks.

Louise Green, NZEI President, tells members, "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."

Key Learnings from the Working Group were summarised as:

  • Communities of Learning should self-identify with clear pathways across the sector;
  • Their clear purpose is to improve educational achievement aligned with NZC, though they can define their areas of focus;
  • Data, evidence & research is used to target efforts;
  • Each Community should determine its own leadership, teaching, collaboration and support functions:
  • Some roles will be required for all and these will be appointed in conjunction with an external professional advisor;
  • Be flexible and prepared for change over time;
  • Each Community will assess it's own resource needs;
  • 'Whole of Community of Learning collaboration" is critical to success;
  • Commit to second stage - further work on priority areas - Māori, Pasifika, ECE, Support Staff, Special Ed, PLD;
  • Community roles will align with career pathways.
So what will this look like when we come to implement such a plan? 
How flexible will this plan be?
How will this work for the rural and isolated school, will they be able to develop CoL that are geographically distributed?
How do schools select their Community that has clear pathways when the pathways for many of our students are so diverse?
Where will be the tension between roles determined by the Community and roles required by the MoE - and how will resources be distributed between them?

One positive that were raised for me was that there was recognition of the roles across schools as well as within schools - this may provide some support for the role I have occupied across schools for years with no formal recognition, support or career pathway.

Another point to flag in this plan was the inclusion of Professional Learning and Support as an explicit feature to be worked towards in the second stage of the Joint Initiative. We have been waiting for some time as to the outcome of the Professional Learning & Development Review, so this may be the basket it is ending up in.

So still a work in progress, and a space i am watching closely with the hope that the 'Policy Parameters' of this plan are flexible enough to include the work of  the VLN Primary School.

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Call to Action - Equity, access, quality and teachers in the digital age

Embedded image permalinkThe ICDE (International Council for Distance Education) met in Paris recently for a Global Policy Forum. The aim of the forum was to build on previous work such as recently in Bali and to ensure equity, access and quality learning outcomes. This was framed with some urgency around the area of higher education with the prediction that in the next 15 years there will be a huge increase in the number of students seeking access to a quality education.

They are asking all governments, educational institutions, teachers and students, to jointly address the needs as outlined in the Paris Message (recommend you read this 3 page document) Key messages are around recognizing the importance of online, open and flexible learning to contribute to the quality & provision of education; the development of effective policy & regulation based on principles of equity; and that funding is critical to the initiation and sustainability of elearning initiatives. 
These are all messages that resonate strongly with my work with the VLN Primary School. Through open, flexible, online & collaborative learning (I added the last qualifier) we have the potential to unlock the gates to so many learning opportunities for our students. This is not just for higher education, but across the sector and community. Government and the educational sector are just starting to 'get it' in terms of understanding the contribution online networked learning can make and are still way behind in resourcing and supporting initiatives such as ours. A good part of my time is spent advocating, and applying for different funding streams because we as yet don't fit into any government 'policy parameters' of which there are a host beginning to be aimed at schools collaborating. This is quite a frustration as what we really should be doing is spending our very little time that we do have working with schools, teacher and students.
Image attribution: https://twitter.com/JGlapaGrossklag/status/608193506444722176