Saturday, 12 January 2019

Rewindable learning - what, why, and how.

As whānau you may occasionally hear the phrase 'rewindable learning. You will also hear from us frequently on the advantages for your tamariki of owning their own Chromebook. We don't ask you to make that investment lightly. Here is some insight into the case for personal ownership  of Chromebooks.

Do you ever remember a time when someone had just explained something to you, and you walked away thinking 'what was that she just said?' Remember that feeling of inadequacy? That feeling that you missed just about everything the explainer/teacher said? I certainly do, and the wish that I could push the 'rewind' button, that I could just have the 'teacher' run that past me again, in my own time, and at my own speed. That's what we call 'rewindable learning.

We ask teachers to maintain web sites, we call them 'Google sites' because we use some special web writing software provided free of charge to schools by Google. These are simply web sites on which teachers place the content of the lessons they deliver, the 'stuff to be learned' for specific lessons.  Often this material includes extra work, extra opportunities to learn, or even alternative explanations for the same material. Because these are web sites, they can be accessed any time the learner chooses, provided she or he has a device that can access the internet, the world wide web. This is what we call rewindable learning, and it is one of the things that makes learning 'ubiquitous'. That means the learning is available any where, any time.

These web sites are maintained on our 'intranet', our own school network, but accessible via the internet at any time that learners are ready to have another go at their learning, or to revise and strengthen their learning.

It also allows staff to offer what has become known as 'flip learning'. This is an approach to learning pioneered by Dr Eric Mazur, a Professor of Physics at Harvard University. In its simplest form it involves students learning the content out of class so that class time can be dedicated to solving problems with the 'teacher' and other students present. It is called 'flipped' because it is the opposite of what we have traditionally done, where content is taught in class, and then homework is set requiring students to solve problems on their own.

This is ground breaking stuff.  The impact on student learning is huge, and is one of many many reasons that our Manaiakalani 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy and use of Chromebooks is so important in our work to improve outcomes for our rangatahi. Our staff are expected to maintain these sites to allow our rangatahi to 'rewind their learning' at any time, and to access additional learning resources whenever and wherever they are.

This is why personal ownership of Chromebooks is so important, and perhaps the BEST investment you can make in your child's education.

Robin Sutton

We know how to improve learning - 'Politicians, leave those kids alone'

When it comes to improving learning, to supporting success, we know what works. The problem is that so much in education takes time. Schools are not like a factory where turning a dial changes production, profits, and dividends to shareholders (mind you it isn't that simple in business either). However business responses are certainly somewhat quicker. We have a rule of thumb in education that any significant intervention of change may take at least five years to have its impact, sometimes more. Indeed much of what we are trying to do at the moment requires generational change. The problem is that we are too often governed by the electoral cycle in which politicians see education as the 'low hanging fruit', the easy way to appeal to voters. After all, we are all experts on education aren't we, since we all attended school? We all went to school. If only it were that simple.

The single biggest impact on education outcomes appears to be poverty. This great piece of Canadian research summaries the issues, and includes a great reference list at the end if you'd like to read further.

It is well documented that poverty decreases a child’s readiness for school through aspects of health, home life, schooling and neighbourhoods. Six poverty-related factors are known to impact child development in general and school readiness in particular. They are the incidence of poverty, the depth of poverty, the duration of poverty, the timing of poverty (eg, age of child), community characteristics (eg, concentration of poverty and crime in neighborhood, and school characteristics) and the impact poverty has on the child’s social network (parents, relatives and neighbors). A child’s home has a particularly strong impact on school readiness. 
And this:

It is worth noting that international studies have consistently shown similar associations between socioeconomic measures and academic outcomes. For example, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assessed the comprehensive literacy skills of grade 4 students in 35 countries. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assessed reading, math and science scores of 15-year-old children in 43 countries (21). At these two different stages of schooling, there was a significant relationship between SES and educational measure in all countries. This relationship has come to be known as a ‘socioeconomic gradient’; flatter gradients represent greater ‘equity of outcome’, and are generally associated with better average outcomes and a higher quality of life. Generally, the PISA and the NLSCY data support the conclusion that income or SES has important effects on educational attainment in elementary school through high school. 
The impact of poverty on educational outcomes for children
HB Ferguson, PhD,1,2 S Bovaird, MPH,1 and MP Mueller, PhD1

The problem is that schools can't control poverty. They are neither economic nor social agencies. Within schools, attributing poor achievement to socio economic status is termed 'deficit theorising'. It misses the point that for schools, focusing on poverty as a means of changing educational outcomes is much like a single rugby player focusing on crowd support in order to influence the game. Schools need to focus on those factors that they can control, and according to Hattie, almost 50% of the influences on student achievement are within the school's control.

In his seminal work 'Visible Learning', John Hattie identified the impact of a wide range of factors on student learning. Socio economic status had an effect size of 0.52. (an effect size of 0.2 would mean that the activity had no more effect than if we had done nothing). This 0.52 is significant, but is well down the list when compared with other factors. I suspect however that much of Hattie's data was collected before the research data that is now becoming available on Manaiakalani, and our 'Learn Create Share ' pedagogy. This pedagogy acknowledges that if learning is supported by and embedded with the acts of creation, and sharing, then the impact on learning is far greater.  What's more, the impact of the pedagogy is magnified by the use of 1:1 digital devices, Chromebooks.

Take sharing as an example. This is most often performed by students writing in publicly accessible blogs.  Students are writing, and they are writing more. What's more, they are writing for an authentic audience, an audience that goes well beyond the class teacher as whānau, in fact anyone, can read what they have written and offer comment. Now Hattie's data gives effect sizes for web based learning, and 1:1 programmes, as below 0.2, that is, having a negative effect on learning. I am prepared to accept that, because in most cases the technology has been put into place without any change to teacher practice. Teachers need to change the way they work, they need to change their 'pedagogy' in order for students to reap the benefits of the technology. The Manaiakalani pedagogy Learn Create Share does exactly that.

There is good evidence for the impact on both the quantity and quality of student writing from the use of computers. In a now dated study first published in 2003, Cook and Goldberg analysed data from a number of studies that showed exactly this. (Cook, A., Goldberg, A., & Russell, M. (2003, February). The effect of computers on student writing: A meta-analysis of studies from 1992 to 2002. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 2(1). Available:

I would like to acknowledge the sacrifices that we know whānau make to ensure that their tamariki have a Chromebook. Schools are not sufficiently well resourced to provide a device for every student. Our informal evidence suggests that when students own their own devices the impact is much greater, as it truly enables learning anywhere, anytime. For whānau from within our own cluster (Uru Mānuka) who may be struggling to provide a Chromebook, please contact your school office once it reopens. We may be able to help.

There have been a number of myths around on the topic of writing. One that I particularly dislike is the one that says readers make writers, so if we encourage children to read more we will improve their writing. Nope. Reading improves children's' reading. If you want to improve children's writing you won't do that by reading, you do that by writing. Hence the emphasis on blogging and writing for our tamariki.

It is no wonder that schools using the Manaiakalani pedagogy are improving student writing at TWICE the rate of improvement being achieved nationally. This is quality data gathered using nationally normed assessment tools, with plenty of cross moderation of marking.

This is particularly important for clusters of schools like ours (Uru Mānuka) in which many students, through no fault of either whānau of themselves, come from backgrounds experiencing varying degrees of poverty. They begin well behind children nationally, and we accelerate their achievement such that they meet, and at times exceed, the levels of writing achieved nationally. The good thing is that this approach benefits ALL learners. Schools can't impact the poverty, but we can still generate the desired educational outcomes.

At Hornby High School we are also innovating with our curriculum. After three years of trials with project based learning, and passion projects, we are embarking on significant and evidence informed curriculum change that will see students have a more connected or integrated curriculum. This change will occur initially for Year 7 & 8 classes, and will then roll out to Years 9 & 10. We want learning to be more meaningful for children, and so have them more engaged in their learning. Our own evidence for the impact of our work so far is not as rigorous as you would find in an academic journal. It is the data gathered by teachers as they undertake their cycles of inquiry. We have identified needs, trialled changes, assessed the impact, and gone back to redesign our programmes. However we do know that the data gathered using the NZ Council of Educational Research tool 'Me and My school' shows improvements in student engagement with school, and their learning. THAT is significant valid data that you could report in an academic journal.

Of course none of this happens in a vacuum. It is all built on the base of our values of Commitment, Achievement, Resilience, and Respect. We want a culture of kindness and compassion, a culture in which our rangatahi can manage their own behaviour and their own learning from a values base. We don't always get that right either, but provided we engage on the basis of respectful and open communication, we will succeed.

In the same way we attempt to encourage staff and students to be risk takers, a critical element we believe in our quest to be 'a centre of creative excellence'. Similarly we believe that 'Learn Create Share' is an essential element of that quest.

And for us, this all happens in an environment in which we attempt to value and support every child's culture, but especially our tangata whenua. As a staff we attempt to bring a growth mindset to everything that we do, and we attempt to encourage students to also develop their own 'growth mindset'.

We know how to improve student learning and educational outcomes. We know what works. What we need is politicians who will resource us sufficiently well to do this, and let us get on with the job. We need a certainty that goes well beyond a three year electoral cycle. We need trust, acknowledging that with trust lies accountability. However annual accountability is much more difficult to achieve in education than it may be in business, because .. well... education IS different. The business model has failed, the market model has failed. No amount of vouchers or charter schools were ever going to make a difference. Well resourced schools and teachers, given the time and resources to do the job, will make the difference. We CAN produce kind, compassionate, thinking, citizens. But only if the politicians will leave the kids alone (with apologies to Pink Floyd and 'The Wall').

Robin Sutton

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Language limits our world: the proposed Hornby library, aquatic centre, and service centre

It was philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who said "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."  According to Wikipedia this has also been translated as "The limits of my language stand for the limits of my world", and "The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for."

I reckon that this is true, and I think it is easy to imagine that this is big in our thinking on what we do in schools.

It is also why I support the City Council proposal to build the new Hornby community library, swimming pool, and service centre, on the Kyle Park site immediately cross the road from our kura.

The site sits within 5 minutes walk of approximately 1200 students from four schools, and immediately across the road from nearly 1000 of those. Hornby High School itself is projected to grow to 800 students within 5 years and is master planned out to 1200 students.

Few schools can provide sufficiently broad learning resources (books especially) to meet the full needs of their community, yet those books and other text based resources help us to expand our language and so expand the limits of our worlds. Ready access to top class library facilities will supplement in-school services. Access to civic library facilities so close to the school would support more ubiquitous learning, helping to cement that learning into the fabric of the community. The synergies that develop when such facilities are located close to schools are in evidence elsewhere in the city, the Riccarton Library is a great example. There are several delightful pieces of jargon that I hear around government circles to describe this, and I can't resist sharing these with you. The 'powers that be' talk about 'functional adjacencies', or the 'synergies of juxtaposition'. I love that jargon.

The facilities that we provide withinTe Pai Rewa and Te Pai Tūhura were designed to offer our own 'functional adjacencies'.  That is, access across a range of learning resources form text based resources to technology and design resources allows each to support the other. The whole is more than the sum of the parts. To then supplement these with the resources that now typify a forward looking and forward thinking civic library service is an exciting prospect. It offers a real shot not just at equity, but at real 'liberation' for our community.

This is the mantra of our work with the Manaiakalani Education Trust, and the Manaiakalani pedagogy 'Learn Create Share'. This is all about 'liberating' our young people, by accelerating their learning, by making their learning visible. This is THE way to give rangatahi and whānau options in life, and if nothing else, education is about giving people options.

And modern libraries are not what they used to be. The Councils' own new central library 'Turanga' is an outstanding example of this evolution, with traditional book resources and other text, maker spaces, collaborative spaces, and much much ore. I think that modern libraries of this sort are a great support for our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy. You could even argue that they represent an ideal resource to support 'Learn Create Share'.

In addition, Hornby High School students have no easy access to aquatic facilities, meaning that they have little or no opportunity to access water safety learning. The new facility would provide access to a swimming pool for most of the 11 to 18 year olds in the community.

This is a life changing (and arguably life saving) investment in its own right.

You could be very clinical in your thinking and simply see this as making sure that the children of Hornby will emerge from our kura as fully functional 'economic units', competent workers ready to fit into the flourishing Hornby economy. That would be true. I prefer to think if this as allowing children in the Hornby community to find their true humanity, to see an expanded world, to lift some of the self imposed limits that we all have so that the world can more truly benefit from their amazing array of talents.

Our Hornby community is delightfully diverse, but included in that diversity are pockets of deprivation, and large numbers who have been come to be called the working poor: whānau who often have two adults working solid honest jobs but still unable to provide for their children simply because of the exorbitantly high costs of housing compared with low minimum wages. Education for children is a powerful way to break that cycle, and supporting formal schooling with educational connection into libraries, the world of words, and the world of 'Learn Create Share', is perhaps the most important enabler of that.

My final plea to the Hornby Halswell Community Board was: 'please don't heap deprivation on top of deprivation'. By that I meant, please don't deprive this community of this amazing resource. By placing it so close to these four kura, the Council would be making a strategic investment that leverages off the $30m investment made by the Ministry of Education. It would be adding much more significantly to the social capital of the community. This would be smart, clever in fact!!

'The whole is more than the sum of the parts'. Our language limits our world.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

"We shape our buildings ... "

It's my favourite Churchill quote again: "We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us."

Image result for churchill creative commons

We began our Year 7 to 10 passion projects this past week. The passion projects are our third iteration of what began in 2016 as project based learning with Year 10 students. This evolved in 2017 to include Year 9s and 10s. This year we have attempted a new iteration that embodies what we have learned from the previous two years, but we have also incorporated what we learned from an inspirational visit to Campion College in Gisborne.

Students identified things they are passionate about. Staff did likewise. We then put these two lists together and produced a list that offered students many of their choices, run by staff who shared similar passions. All of that in itself is pretty amazing, and reflects fantastic creative thinking and commitment from staff.

What is also really gratifying are the comments from one colleague who observed the following. Students in our new building were 'working the building'. So, they might sit in a collaborative area researching aspects of their proposal. Already they have been seen to transition to science labs, creative arts spaces, and technology spaces, as they investigate and work on different aspects of their projects, perhaps seeing the different spaces that enable them to complete different aspects of their projects.

Now to me that looks very much like the real world, and it also looks very much like what we describe as the 'connected curriculum', where subject silos have been subsumed by the project. That is, it's not about the science, or the technology, or any other individual subject, but about how these 'subjects' merely reflect the skills and tools that they are in the world of work.  We all learn things when we see the need to do so. The projects are creating the 'desire to learn' as they reflect the need to learn specific skills and knowledge.

The building spaces we designed are enablers. Single cell rooms would act as limiting factors in allowing these connections to occur, but the adjoining spaces we now live and work in allow knowledge and skills to be seen, and learned, in context rather than isolation, and for a 'flow' to easily develop between these areas.

And perhaps most powerfully of all, we are seeing our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy fully enabled by the spaces. In many cases, I think students begin with the act of creation. They are then finding that there are skills and knowledge that they need to learn. On a daily basis students are sharing their thinking and their progress on their blogs. And their ultimate act of sharing will take place on our 'Exhibition Day' on Thursday 6th December.

Even after the first week the levels of student engagement are clear and visible to anyone who cares to look. In term 4, when life for Year 9 and 10 students can become wearisome, when students are beginning to enter 'holiday mode', we are seeing students actively engaged in their own learning.

Manaiakalani (as I understand it) translates as 'Hook from Heaven'. Perhaps it might also be taken to mean 'Gift from Heaven', because it certainly is, and our buildings are enabling the pedagogy that IS Manaiakalani.

Big open spaces don't enhance or improve learning if we continue to do things as we have for the past 150 years. They do however enhance or improve learning when we, as educators, change our own paradigm, when we change our pedagogy, when we change the way we do things.

Our strategic plan for our kura has set our vision to be 'a centre of creative excellence'. That vision is an aspiration, it is our 'pole star' by which we navigate, in much the same way that our original Polynesian navigators shaped their journeys. And like them we know that we are taking risks. One of our strategic goals is to develop innovative risk taking leadership, because we know that the best in creativity requires us to take risks. Our staff team is proving to be magnificent in taking those risks, and I suggest that they are inspiring our rangatahi to do the same. Another staff member observed that several rangatahi commented that they saw staff as learners too.

We also seek to develop individualised pathways for our learners. When you are following your passion, that is exactly what you are doing. And we believe that that is enabled by Manaiakalani and our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy. This is.

I could not be more excited. I could not be more inspired, as I watch our staff team, and our amazing rangatahi, develop their own risk taking, as they pursue their own passions, as they venture forth yet again on our quest for creative excellence.

Strong pedagogy. Amazing spaces. Risk taking staff and students. All combining to propel us towards that vision: 'a centre of creative excellence'.

Ka mau te wehi!!!

Monday, 5 November 2018

Principal's Prize Giving address

Tihei Mauri Ora!

Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu
‘Feathers enable the bird to fly’

Board Chair, Mrs Kaye Banks, fellow Board of Trustees members, Te Taumutu runanga, The Hon Dr Megan Woods, honoured guests, colleagues, parents and friends, ladies and gentlemen, students of Hornby High School  - welcome to this 44th senior prize giving of Hornby High School.

Kaye Banks, Jonty Ward, Donna Sullivan, Rochelle Jackson and Penny Devine have served on the Board this past year. George Wharerau was elected as the new student representative in September 2017. George relinquished his position part way through the year and was replaced by Shardey Harris who completed the term. In the 2018 student election we welcomed Crystal Edminstin to the Board as student representative. Thank you to you all for for your time, work and wisdom.

The year has seen a number of staff movements. Mrs Helen Boothby left us to work in the United Kingdom early in term 3, and was replaced by Mr Daniel Reizinger. Mrs Jane Turner (History) left on maternity leave, and was replaced by Miss Nicole Eastwick and Mr Sam Stokes.

Mrs Janette Merrin left us for a position with the Ministry of Education, and Miss Alex Aitken gained permanent appointment as HOD Health. Mrs Carla Gibson left us after 4 and a half years to pursue a career in the hospitality industry as a small business owner.

At the beginning of the year we were joined by Tracey Allen, Chelsea Birtch, Raewyn Davis, Aaron Heath, Abbie Keene and Sam Tisch. At the end of term one Ms Keene took maternity leave for terms 2 and 3, and was replaced by Mr Michael Collins.

Mrs Laurie Tafau left us for one year to take up a fixed term position as Assistant Principal at Avonside Girls’ High School, and was replaced by Ms Annabelle Simpson. We also received the resignation of Mr John Minto as he prepares for a well earned retirement. John, I have to say I cannot for a single instant imagine you resting, I cannot picture you sitting still. Thank you for your powerful contribution to our kura, and for your powerful ambition for our rangatahi.

Mr John Simons who has lead the Hornby Technical Centre of Hornby High School since 2014 announced his departure from the end of the year. Thank you John for your sizeable contribution to the learning and development of tamariki from across and outside our cluster.

We also received the resignation of Mr Jon Rogers who looks forward to retirement from 2019. He was replaced by Mr Jack Goodfellow who joins us from Lincoln High School at the beginning of 2019. I will have more to say about Jon later in our prizegiving.

Much of our attention over this past year has been occupied with our school rebuild. Stage 1 of the  rebuild was completed at the end of term 2, and we moved into those buildings for the beginning of term 3. Everything about the design of those buildings was deliberate, and once more i’d like to express our gratitude to the architects Del Love, Abbie Whangaparita, and Simon Richmond, from Stephenson and Turner for their wonderful work turning our vision for curriculum adaptation and change into our physical reality. I’d also like to place on record our thanks to our project managers from OCTA, and Mr Robert Lyall from the Ministry of education, and to the team from Leighs Construction for their wonderful work in helping us to realise our vision.

But a school is more than it’s buildings:

He aha te mea nui o te ao
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

To our wonderful staff, thank you. You have taken on board a huge workload, you have embraced change, you have been prepared to try different ways of doing things. As I mentioned in an assembly address to the junior school just last week, if we are to realise our vision as ‘a centre of creative excellence’, we must all be prepared to take risks, and your responses to our new environment have shown your willingness to do that, with project based learning, and passion projects, with collaboration and the acceptance that classrooms don’t always need walls and closed doors (although sometimes they do).

And to our wonderful rangatahi, well done. I’d like to read a poem that I also read to the junior school last week. It is one of my favourites, it is a poem that well describes the need to take risks, the need to push boundaries, the drive to find new paths.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

You too must take risks, you too must be prepared to look at the world with fresh eyes. You too need to see things in ways that have perhaps never been imagined before. Your academic and sporting achievements which we celebrate here tonight continue to ascend the heights of excellence as you push your own personal boundaries.

One thing I can say, one thing you as students may not realise, is that our new buildings have changed you. They have changed you in a profound way. Parents and whānau, you need to know that at school your children have changed. They are still wonderful human beings. But they are also now ever more respectful, they are now ever more confident, they are now ever more willing to take those calculated risks that are essential to growth and to creativity.

Over this past year we have witnessed perhaps the most powerful force for change, the force of student passion and desire. It is you, our rangatahi, who said “Hey, stop deriding our school”. It is your, our rangatahi, who said “We are good enough”. It is you, our rangatahi, who said “We are proud of our school.” It is you, our rangatahi, who began our #manahoromaka, our #hornbypride, campaign. And it is you, our rangatahi, who have pushed that campaign out to the remainder of the school. Well done .. ka mau te wehi.

Let me tell you a short story. At the beginning of this term we began our interviews with new whānau and their children prior to them entering our kura at the start of next year. I was interviewing a father and son, both of whom were new to the school. The father said “You are proud of this school, aren’t you”. I replied ‘Yes we are”. He then said “When I dropped our enrolment forms off at reception, I could see it in your kids.”

There is one area of change at Hornby High School that does not represent risk, but rather an evidence based shift in teaching and learning that is more powerful than any other I have seen in my 40 years in education, and that is the Manaiakalani philosophy on which everything we do is founded.

The evidence base for the efficacy, the power, the impact, of ‘Learn Create Share’ grows month by month, year by year. The evidence is robust and authentic, the impact of the pedagogy so huge that it accelerates learning by up to twice national averages as measured by standardised nationally normed tests. This is not some piece of fanciful educational hope. This is real, palpable, and world changing.

To parents and whānau I make this plea. The Manaiakalani evidence offers the same conclusions as a much wider range of robust evidence: your connection with your child’s learning has a massive impact on her or his learning. All students across our kura are expected to be active bloggers. A blog is a way of making learning highly visible and accessible to the world, and we know that visibility promotes clearer thinking and active learning. Whānau - your engagement with those blogs is vital. Every child feels a huge sense of achievement and engagement when parents and whānau make comment on their blogs. Please Please please get involved. To paraphrase that wonderful African saying says ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, I would say “it takes a community to educate a child”. Your presence in your child’s education is a great present, a great gift, for your children. Get involved, get commenting.

And in that regard I want to acknowledge the support and confidence of the Greater Christchurch Schools Network who have given a significant grant from their innovation fund to support our innovative initiative to employ members of the community to work with you in your homes, one to one, giving you (we hope) the skills and confidence to get involved with your child’s learning. Being ‘A centre of creative excellence’ requires us to take risks, to try new things. This is new, this is a creative way of helping to improve learning outcomes for our rangatahi. GCSN - thank you.

This all leads me to repeat my words from last year: To the originators and principle drivers of Manaiakalani itself - Mr Pat Sneddon, Mrs Dorothy Burt, and Mr Russell Burt. Your work that has gone before us has truly created a hook for heaven, a force for educational change and improvement that addresses the issue not only of equity, but as you often remind us, of liberation for our learners in New Zealand in a powerful and compelling way. If I may take your words, Manaiakalani does more than remove barriers to our learners watching the game, it places our learners squarely on the playing field of their learning. Again, as I said last year, you are trailblazers in what at times can feel like a bleak landscape. Keep your lanterns lit, keep your voices strong, keep that spring in your step. Tamariki across New Zealand need you.

To my fellow Principals and teaching colleagues across our cluster, thank you for the amazing work you do. The ways in which you enable work across our cluster, the ways in which you practise and model collaboration, are a powerful force for our tamariki, and by doing so you create a rich educational landscape in which our tamariki can thrive and prosper.

To my wonderful colleagues at Hornby High School, regardless of whether you are teaching or non teaching staff, you all do a wonderful job. Teaching staff cause the learning, but that is not possible without all of the many support functions that sit alongside them: grounds and maintenance, security, administration and accounts, community and pastoral support, all completed by wonderful people. Thank you.

I would again like to acknowledge and thank the trustees of our Uru Mānuka Educational Trust: Mr Garry Moore, Chair, Mrs Janine Morrell-Gunn, Mrs Rose Crossland, Mr Jason Marsden, Mrs Daisy Laveo-Timo and Mrs Jane Ross.  You have all seen the potential for change that is Manaiakalani, and have freely and willingly given of your time to make the world a better place. Yet again Mr Gary Roberts, Principal of Hornby Primary School, is deserving of special mention for the drive and passion that he has brought to the pursuit of this amazing educational vision. Thank you. Thank you for your energy, your passion, your commitment, and your support.

To our many supporting organisations, thank you. As always, a special mention of the Hub, The Hornby Rotary Club, and Hornby Working Men’s Club as long term supporters of our wonderful tamariki. Actions speak louder than words. By your actions you demonstrate your understanding of the desirability of investing in your local community and our collective futures by supporting our tamariki. Please be assured that you do make a positive difference.
Thank you to our many supporters:

CERT Trust
Mainland Foundation
CSG Konica Minolta Limited
ISS Facilities Services
Westpac Trust - Hornby Branch
GCSN - the Greater Christchurch Schools Network
Orica Chemicals
Hornby Residents Association

Finally, to our prize winners, well done. Tonight we acknowledge and celebrate your attitude, your persistence and your achievement. The prizes we award acknowledge only one part of the wonderful achievement represented here tonight, and throughout the school.

To our 2018 Prefects, thank you for your leadership and your commitment to the school, and to all of our leavers - please know that you take with you our best wishes, and the knowledge that at Hornby High School you have your turangawaewae, your place to stand. You are an outstanding group of young men and women. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Noreira tena koutou tena koutou tena koutou katoa

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Collaboration ousts competition

Last week I was privileged to attend the annual Manaiakalani wananga, hosted by the Manaiakalani Education Trust. Representatives from every Manaiakalani cluster in the country are invited, and this year our Uru Mānuka cluster had not only our seven principals, but also other senior leaders, and leaders of learning, from our seven schools.

These wanaga begin with some inspiration, and some update, on the progress of MK across the country, and then include some fantastic examples of progress that has been shown to accelerate learning at different schools across the country. These 'slams' are always informative, the presenters humble. One of the many foundations for the success of Manaiakalani is the identification of what works using robust data, and the sharing of this with other participating schools.

This sharing represents the best in collaboration. No school keeps good practice a secret, good ideas are freely shared. This is refreshing as we (hopefully) emerge from an era of competition. The market model has failed children in their tens of thousands. In particular the market model has failed children who are not European, and who are not from middle and high income households. The result is that we have one of the longest tails of 'under achievement' in the OECD, a tail dominated by our Māori and Pasifika children. We ought to be ashamed that we have allowed this to happen, and I look despairingly at the political right that still thinks that competition amongst schools is an ideal to which we should aspire. Our children are NOT economic units to be consigned to this pile or that based upon standardised testing.

On the day following the wananga all of the members of the Uru Mānuka cluster who had attended stayed on for the day and sat together planning cluster goals, focii, and events, for 2019.
As we worked, I stepped aside and took this photo. I know that what I was seeing was the best in collaboration. One of the things that makes this 'the best' is something that is missing from this photo. What is NOT at the table here as we worked? What are you not seeing?

It's very simple: there is no 'ego'. Every individual 'at the table' was focussed on what we need to do next to improve learning outcomes for our children, and to improve the lives of our children and whānau. There was in 'I' in the conversation. There was plenty of 'we'. NO-ONE said 'my school' at any stage. Everyone was focussed on the children in the cluster.

This level of care and concern doesn't happen in an environment riddled with competition. Our children can only flourish in a climate of collaboration.

Manaiakalani not only supports the 'liberation' of our children as learners by magnifying a common pedagogy using digital devices, it also liberates our children as learners by ensuring that choices are made, resources allocated, in  the best interests of the children, not in the best interests of the school, or its Principal. Manaiakalani is a collaborative, a culturally responsive, approach to liberating ALL children as learners, to allow those children to reach their potential.

There was no ego there. Collaboration will oust competition. EVERY TIME!!!!

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Passion projects, risk taking, and creativity

This is the text from my address to the junior school in assembly this morning.


Ki te kura te Huruhuru Ao o Horomaka - tena koe

‘Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu’
‘Feathers enable the bird to fly’

I’m maybe not much of a poetry person. My university creative writing work saw my lower marks in writing poetry, and higher marks writing short stories. However I have a number of fave poems, and I thought I’d read done of these to you today. For staff present here today, my apologies because you will hear this in my prize giving speech too..  ao be warned.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

You may remember me talking to you last term about how learning is changing. I’ve talked about the kinds of skills we need for our future. Teachers are still your guides, they are still a source of knowledge, but they are no longer the only source of knowledge, as they were thought to be fifty or a hundred years ago.

I’ve also talked many times about our vision as a school, to be ‘a centre of creative excellence’. In thinking about what it takes to become that centre of creative excellence, we decided that being prepared to take risks was really important. That suggestion, by the way, came from the student rep on the Board of Trustees at the time. Whenever we try to be creative we have to take risks. We all put ourselves up there in front of others in a way that invites comment, and maybe criticism.

And creativity is really important to our way of causing learning at Hornby High School: our ‘Learn Create Share’ approach to learning. In educational jargon, we talk about ‘student engagement’. This is our way of talking about how interested in your work you are, about how connected to your learning you are, about how enthusiastic you are about your learning. And when we are following our passions, we are more likely to be engaged with what we are doing.

Where am I going with all of this?

Over the coming weeks you will be challenged in quite a different way, as we introduce something entirely new to Hornby High School: ‘passion projects’. These are projects devised as a result of asking you what you would like to do, asking staff what they would like to do, and then putting the two together.  The projects invite you to “follow your passion”, to attempt something that you find really interesting, something about which you (hopefully) have a passion. Why? Because when we are passionate about something we are more likely to take risks, we are more likely to be creative.

For us as a staff, this represents a big risk, because it’s not the way we have done things before. Similarly, for you it represents a risk because it’s not the way you have done things in school before. Our own journey to these passion projects begana couple of years ago when Mr Aitken asked us to take risks by trying a concept called Project based Learning. We didn’t flinch. He didn’t flinch. And neither should you.

And let’s not forget that when we take risks, that means that sometimes we fail. But failure is useful, as it tells us what didn’t work, and therefore gives us an insight into what might work better next time. There’s that famous Thomas Edison quote. Edison was inventor of a huge number of different things we take for granted, amongst which was the first lightbulb. The myth says that he tried 10000 different ways before he was successful, and of that he said:

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

We all need to draw upon our school values as we take these risks, we all need to show Commitment, Achievement,. Resilience, and Respect, in the face of either success or failure. You may fail. Be resilient - get back up and try again. Be committed to your end goal, stay the course, don’t flinch in the face of challenge.

This commitment to taking risks, takes us a little closer to our vision as ‘a centre of creative excellence’.

‘Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu’

Robin Sutton