Thursday, 19 April 2018

Board Information Evening.

On the 10th of April our ACCoS Kāhui Ako Lead principal, Across School Leaders and our learning mentor shared our journey so far with our boards of trustees. The evening was held at Auckland Normal Intermediate School which is our lead school and was attended by board of trustees, principals, deputy principals and our Across School Leaders.


Across School Leaders shared a summary of this years journey.

Teacher Agency -Catherine and Alaric
  • Co-construction of a shared understanding of the concept of teacher agency between the ISLs and SMT of the schools in this initiative, building effective working relationships in the process.
  • Co-construction of the teacher agency progression matrix with the ISLs, who then distributed and facilitated the collection of data from the teachers within the 4 schools in the initiative.
  • Analysis of data will occur in week 2 of term 2. Findings therein will guide our work for term 2 and onwards.

Learner Agency -Leigh and Mark
  • We have aligned our understanding of what learner agency is, and co-constructed a shared definition that schools could use in their individual approaches.
  • Collection of baseline data. We created a learner agency questionnaire to be carried out with a sample of students, as well as a teacher survey to use as a self assessment tool. ISLs undertook to complete this by the end of Term 1.
  • An action plan will be developed after analysis of the data that has been gathered.

Writing -Erin and Clara
  • Co-construction of 3 major focus areas for PLG’s across all 3 schools in initiative. 
    1. Pedagogical approaches to writing - informed by recent research & evidence.
    2. Extending teacher content knowledge 
    3. Where does the student fit in all of this? Evaluating what we do. 
  • 2 Meetings providing professional development for ISL’s.
    • Leading Collaborative Learning- focusing on teacher inquiry cycle and developing rich, challenging questions
    • Understanding the Literacy Learning Progressions- with Jenny Thomson
  • Networking meeting organised for early Term 2 involving all teachers in this initiative. Intention is to set up across -school cycles of observation and critical feedback between the teachers. 
Where to next: From Action Plan
  • Creation of a survey for students to gather information on their attitudes towards how we teach Writing. What ‘works’ for them? What does not ?
  • Using John Hattie’s ‘Top 10 influences on student achievement’ - looking at effect sizes in relation to pedagogical approaches being trialled through PLG/’s.

Oral Language -Mark and Erin
  1. Have completed baseline data collection at both schools with a random sample of approximately 50 Year 1 and 2 students. 
  2. Have established hunch and structural timeline of inquiry for 2018. Some key resources have been identified, including people from beyond our CoL who we hope to involve in future PD.
  3. Planned collaboration and professional development between CPDS and RPS
Where to next:
  1. Action plan being co-constructed
  2. Opportunities for networking and collaboration within CoL , and beyond Col - including ECE. 

Wild Card (Working with the Learner) -Lisa and Sue
  • EGGS staff have now all joined a cross curricular PLG for 2018 which relates to one or more of the 3 strategic aims for 2018: Curriculum design, Pedagogy for Innovative Learning and Building Relationships and Restorative Practices. Student agency is at the heart of all three strategic aims. 
  • The PLGs are furthering the cross curricular and collaborative connections between teachers.
  • There are 14 ISLs and they have each identified how 'Working with the learner' and 'Learner Agency' will be developed within the PLG that they lead.
  • Staff are developing their own Action Plans to identify research and strategies needed to enable the above. Staff are at the stage of researching, developing goals and gathering student data, under the supervision of the ISL.
  • Cross curricular projects in the junior school are being developed between staff from different learning areas at EGGS this year.
  • The two ASLs in the school are coaching the ISLs and periodically meet them all together to share findings so they can learn from each other, and report back to the curriculum group.

Mathematics/Pāngarau Initiative -Sonya and Sue
The principals involved in the Mathematics/Pāngarau Initiative initiative agreed that maths was a strength in all three schools and wondered if teachers were catering to the strengths of our learners.
Historic learning data has been gathered over the past three years and this year student attitude data will be used as a comparison indicator to gauge how successful the initiative is in strengthening teacher pedagogy and content knowledge when teaching maths in our schools.
One key carry over from our ACCoS achievement goals is the involvement of our parent community and schools are still working through how this will be part of each school’s action plan.

Where to next: we wonder how teachers will share their learning in school, across schools and across Kahui Ako and this will be discussed when all teachers involved in Maths across the three schools come together to share inquiry goals and to begin across schools collaborations.

Sarah -Transitioning Early Childhood & New Entrants
Achievement 1 - we have tapped into a need to create of local forum to rebuild relationships with 30-40 people attending our meetings.

Achievement 2 - we set 13 goals for 2018 and have achieved four of them so far this year.

Achievement 3 - we had a successful meeting in February on supporting children with special needs. Guest speaker, Felecia Tomich, shared resources and information on how we can support these children at a ECE/NE level.

Here are the slides from our evening

Thursday, 12 April 2018

What is Teacher Agency and how do we become more agentic?

Such are the questions that the Teacher Agency Initiative have been exploring over term 1.

In school leaders from Kohia Terrace, Victoria Avenue, Meadowbank and Remuera Intermediate Schools shared ideas and conducted research, resulting in a co-constructed definition of Teacher Agency.  We are using this to frame our learning over the year.

Teacher Agency is the belief and capacity for teachers to act in a purposeful manner to drive their own professional growth through responsive, collaborative and reflective practice in order to improve teaching and learning.

But ... what does effective Teacher Agency look like?  Once again, we collaborated and this time produced a Teacher Agency Progression Matrix.  The purpose of this is two-fold:

  • To gather baseline data from across our 4 schools around our levels of Teacher Agency.
  • To provide some indicators around the actions and beliefs of teachers at different stages in the progression.

We are currently sharing the definition and matrix with teaching staff and individuals are recording their best fit on each of the five strands.  We have also compiled a matrix that explores Teacher Agency from a school perspective.  The data from these self assessments will help us set our direction for term 2 and beyond. 

Our next step will be to continue to build understanding around this topic.  We hope to support and encourage teachers to act with and develop their agency, for example by inquiring deeply into their practice, collaborating with others and making changes (they only need to be small but well researched) that impact on student outcomes.  

Teacher Agency Leaders: Catherine Palmer, Alaric Nicholls
Teacher Agency Champion: Janice Adamson 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Mathematics/Pāngarau Initiative sharing at the BoT

The Across School Leader leading the initiative is Sonya Van Schaijk from Newmarket School. 
She is supported by Sue Spencer from Epsom Girls School. 
The champion for this initiative is Virginia Kung from Newmarket School.

The three schools involved in this initiative include Auckland Normal Intermediate, Parnell District School and Newmarket Primary School. Included in this initiative are the following educators from the three schools. Belinda Hitchman, Ainsley Whitfield, Bryce Mills, Andrew Lawrence, Emily Hempstapat, Emma Williams and Masina Gagamoe.
This initiative caters for approximately 1,450 children and the professional learning involves 77 teachers across the three schools.
The principals involved in this initiative agreed that maths was a strength in all three schools and wondered if teachers were catering to the strengths of our learners. 

So far historic learning data has been gathered over the past three years and this year we will include student attitude data as a comparison indicator to gauge how successful the initiative is in strengthening teacher pedagogy and content knowledge when teaching maths in our schools.

Each school has a slightly different way of framing teacher learning but ultimately we are all focussed on teacher learning. 

One key carry over from our ACCoS achievement goals is the involvement of our parent community and schools are still working through how this will be part of each school’s action plan.

Recent connections have been established between all the in school leaders through regular meetings and our planned next step is to bring all teachers involved in Maths across the three schools together to share inquiry goals and to begin across schools collaborations. 

Where to next: we wonder how teachers will share their learning in school, across schools and across Kahui Ako and this is still to be discussed.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

2018 Auckland Central Community of Schools Writers Festival

Planning is well underway for the second annual ACCoS Writers Festival. This year's event will be held at Remuera Primary School on Thursday 17 May - in the same week as the Auckland Writers Festival. The goal for the day is to immerse the students in a number of rich, stimulating and enjoyable tasks relating to the writing craft, both in and outside the classroom. It is hoped that students will pick up some new writing-related skills and be inspired to create some wonderful texts on the day and in their own time, following the event.

This year's guest author is Mr Paul Mason. Paul has written many children's books, including the 'Skate Monkey' series, 'Sports Day on Mount Olympus' and 'The Twins, the Ghost and the Castle'. His website can be viewed here:

Paul Mason Writer

Paul will be running a number of narrative genre workshops for the attendees - one on characterisation and one titled 'What's the Problem?'. Another fantastic aspect of the day will be the involvement of students from Epsom Girls Grammar School, who will be running a workshop of their own - student agency in action!

I am looking forward to a great day and would like to thank the ACCoS members for supporting this venture.

Mark Hassall (Across School Leader)
Remuera Primary School 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

An Evening with our Early Childhood Educators

Sarah Brown, In School Leader with responsibility for early childhood liaison hosted a meeting at Kohia Terrace School this week for early childhood and primary school teachers within our community.  About 30 people attended.  

The focus was on building relationships across the sector, sharing practice and how to ease transition to school.  A tangible buzz around the room reflected the engagement of attendees who found it a valuable experience.  

Further meetings are planned for this group; greater communication around expectations and practice can only serve to support our youngest akonga within ACCOS. Thank you Sarah.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Systemic Change

-spinning straw into gold. A Kāhui Ako leader’s story two years on. 

Jill Farquharson

(This post is one of several that were collated into for 2017.)

Auckland Central Community of Schools or ACCOS as we have come to be known, was one of the early adopters of a 2014 government initiative called Investing in Educational Success. The purpose of this initiative was to lift student achievement by improving teacher practice in addition to offering career opportunities for teachers and principals. At the end of 2015 I was fortunate enough to be appointed to the position of lead principal of ACCOS. 

In the early days of CoL leadership I likened my position to a character in one of the Grimm's brothers fairy tales Rumpelstiltskin.  The fairy tale tells of a foolish miller who lied to the King saying his daughter could spin straw into gold.  The king calls for the daughter and shuts her in a tower room filled with straw and a spinning wheel and demands the straw be spun into gold. The miller's daughter looks nervously at the impossible task ahead. She was hapless, miserable and full of questions: “why am I here”, “how can I possibly do this job".  

As a new CoL leader I have to say there were many similarities between the way I was feeling and the miller's daughter. So many in fact that I was on the lookout for my very own Rumpelstiltskin! 

My story
As a new leader I hoped to provide additional and complementary support to eleven high performing schools who all had exceptionally competent and high achieving principals. The purpose of my work was to build collaboration within the community to meet our shared achievement challenges. Throughout the two-year appointment I have felt immensely proud of our achievements, particularly the strong focus we have kept on student achievement,
the proactive way we have addressed challenges, and the collective progress we have made. Certainly one of the most rewarding things I have undertaken in my career and it is for this reason that I am happy to share my story.

As one of the first Communities of Learning, Kāhui Ako to be established, our aspiration was to strengthen pathways for our students as they moved through their schooling journey. We drew on the resources of all members of our educational community to support this objective. In doing this we have successfully built the individual and collective capacity of our members while strengthening our inquiry mindset.

Once our achievement challenges were endorsed at the end of 2015, I felt it important to focus my leadership on the good things that were happening in schools through appreciative inquiry. By encouraging teachers and leaders to consider new and different ways of doing things, opening up our thinking, challenging current practices and creating opportunities for all stakeholders the capacity of our network would increase.
My approach has always been one of engaging members of the community in self determined change focusing my attention of what works and what people really care about.

There have been many accomplishments in our two years and as the leader it would be very presumptuous for me to take credit for all of these the achievements. They are the result of a huge amount of work from our Across School Leaders, In School Leaders, principal colleagues and teachers at the chalkface. This initiative is steeped in collaboration therefore this story is “ours” not “mine.

Planning for Leadership
Using prior knowledge and experiences from a joint leadership position I previously held in a learning and change network, I knew it was important from the commencement of my position as CoL leader to initiate change through the process of transformational leadership. This meant guiding members of our community with dignity and integrity in all of my actions.

Early on two sub-leaders (Deputies) were appointed who provided regular support, guidance and direction not to mention numerous coffees! We very quickly set challenging expectations for ourselves knowing if we modelled quality and excellence we would empower members of the CoL to achieve higher performance. We met regularly to discuss, debate and deliberate, valuing each other’s contributions and involvement. 
Our In School and Across School Leaders have driven the work of ACCoS including many challenging initiatives. These leaders have been pivotal to the success of our Kāhui Ako so careful planning was required to build their capacity and capability. The work they undertook reflected each school’s improvement agenda, ongoing collaborative inquiries and the sharing of teaching practices across the sector.
The Across and In School Leaders have led from the middle and in doing so successfully created a culture of collective responsibility for excellence and equity across all schools in the community.

At every stage of development, the ACCoS leaders including myself, played a critical role in establishing our priority goals and targets. These were soon transformed into Achievement Challenges which represented a collective commitment to improvement and the action we would take to meet these challenges. An openness to learning and a willingness to share information and evidence was prevalent among the schools. This continues today.
Respect as a leader was gained from members of our community by walking the talk of our change methodology ‘appreciative inquiry’ a strengths based approach. My attention was focused on identifying strengths, building on those strengths and then facilitating the analysis of what worked well and why.

Taking time to value each and every contribution from teachers and leaders was important and became a helpful enabler when we were setting up inquiries so they were positively aligned to our achievement challenges. In particular, my work with the Across School Leaders on open to learning conversations and coaching has been exceptionally rewarding as it has emphasized the importance of honest connections, inclusiveness and the value of diversity.

Developing and maintaining professional relationships is closely aligned to my role as a CoL leader which reflects the value I place on building strong relationships and ensuring they are functional. This in turn means the work we do and the progress we make will be successful. 

There is high relational trust in our Kāhui Ako, which was fundamental if we were to have robust discussions and engage in challenging dialogue. Through open conversations and a strong self review process we have been able to acknowledge what we don’t know, take risks, share expertise and support each other.  We have collectively created a safe environment where we can problem solve together and foster the kinds of innovation, creativity and confidence that will enable us to address the complexities of improving student learning without fear of failure.  

In our Kāhui Ako there is a culture of transparency in everything we do. Through open and clear communication channels we have been able to facilitate the exchange of ideas and new knowledge. Formal and informal opportunities to discuss and network have been regularly offered at different levels (Principal, ASL, ISL, and cross sector) with the purpose of collaboration around a shared focus.

Strong professional relationships have been established in my time as the community leader and I have actively contributed to maintaining these relationships through a focus on learners, their families and whānau, colleagues, board members, other professionals and various groups in our community.

I believe relational trust, effective communication and highly developed professional relationships are fundamental to an effective Kāhui Ako.

When planning for success our Kāhui Ako embraces the challenge of new possibilities, makes positive change and sustains improvement.

Professional Learning
The community has been fortunate to have well informed members who are up to date with current research around teaching and learning and the benefits of working in a collaborative network.
Members willingly exchange ideas, learn from each other and explore teaching practices that work and sometimes don’t work- there is a positive culture of risk taking. New knowledge is collectively developed and there is a strong correlation between this and student outcomes.  
There has been and will continue to be a strong emphasis on research underpinning our actions, decisions and direction. This includes knowing about global trends that have the greatest impact on student achievement, synthesizing this information and then developing an understanding of what success will look like. It is important to us that learners make sufficient progress and there is equity and excellence for all.
Professional learning within our CoL has seen teachers inquire into the effectiveness of their practice at a class level, within teams and across school sectors. These inquiries have embraced collaborative problem solving, expanded learning conversations, challenged current thinking and encouraged reflective practice.  By building professional capability we have been able to strengthen our evaluative reasoning to better understand how our improvement actions have impacted on learners and what difference this has made.  The exploration of evaluative practices such as asking good questions, gathering fit-for-purpose data/information, making sense of it and thinking deeply about next learning steps has encouraged deep and meaningful conversations between teachers. This shift in thinking and practice has also meant a more considered approach and cross sector understanding when looking at transition points and the transference of data between schools.

Professional learning has been a critical element for us in the Kāhui Ako driving improvement and innovation.

Having a personal sense of agency has helped me in my leadership role by reinforcing the fact that agency is socially interdependent. Every decision I make and every action I take has a consequence that impacts others.  The effects of agentic behavior is a huge responsibility as leader and one I undertake with the utmost respect for those I work alongside.  
Looking back on our work over the last two years I am pleased to say that unlike the Grimm Brothers fairytale, our Kāhui Ako has many treasures, numerous success stories and a very happy ending.


Auckland Central Community of Schools (2016). Achievement Plan.Retrieved from:

Daly, A., Moolenaar, N., Bolivar, J., & Purke, P. (2010).Relationships and reform: The role of teachers’ social networks. Journal of Educational Administration, 48(3), 359-391.

Education Review Office. (2016). Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako: Collaboration to Improve Learner Outcomes. Retrieved from:āhui-ako-collaboration-to-improve-learner-outcomes

Farrar, M. (2015, November). Learning together: The power of cluster-based school improvement.  East Melbourne, AU: Centre for Strategic Education.

Halbert, J., Kaser, L. & Koehn, D. (2011, January). Spirals of Inquiry: Building professional inquiry to foster student learning.Paper presented at Association of Christian Schools Conference, Limassol, Cyprus.

Ministry of Education. (2011). Understanding teaching as inquiry. In The New Zealand Curriculum Update (Issue 12), Wellington, NZ: Learning Media.

Ministry of Education. (2016). Community of learning: Guide for schools and kura. Wellington, NZ: Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Communities of Learning | KāhuiAko. Retrieved from:

Nelson, T., Slavit, D., Perkins, M., & Hatham, T. ( 2008). A culture of collaborative inquiry: Learning to develop and support professional learning communities. Teachers College Record, 110(6), 1269-1303.

Michael Fullan - Public school improvement and the role of school leadership in that process | Australian Education Union (AEU)

Timperley, H. (2015, October 18). Effective professional conversations [video file]. Retrieved from

Friday, 10 November 2017

Technology connect & share session

On Tuesday 7th November a group of 12 teachers from 6 schools met at Remuera Intermediate School to ‘Talk Technology’; connect with people who have a passion for teaching Technology and discuss topics relevant to the transition of technology learning across all year levels. This was the culmination of a 2017 inquiry by Sonja Potter (ISL at RIS) into the transition of the Technology curriculum, and related elements, from primary to intermediate to secondary.

Looking ahead to 2018, the goal of this inquiry is to build a network of teachers of technology who meet on a regular basis to;

  • share successful pedagogies in Technology
  • collaborate on elements of the Teacher Agency initiative, in addition to targeted aspects of Technology teaching and learning
  • develop a programme of learning for students which offers a smooth pathway where student engagement is maintained as they move from school to school.