Ākonga making a difference through powerful partnerships.

Heal the World
Michael Jackson
There’s a place in your heart
And I know that it is love
And this place could be much
Brighter than tomorrow
And if you really try
You’ll find there’s no need to cry
In this place you’ll feel
There’s no hurt or sorrow
There are ways to get there
If you care enough for the living
Make a little space
Make a better place
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make it a better place
For you and for me….
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The words of Michael Jackson are a good place to start and set the scene for this reflection…So much in the world and the media about what is wrong with the world, with society, with the future focused New Zealand Curriculum having the following vision, values, key competencies and more…
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Focusing in on the vision …”Young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners”.
So how is this been enacted in our schools? Within schools own contexts how is the vision being played out? I want to share some of the partnerships we have at Rototuna High Schools to show this in our context…Let’s focus on the good stuff happening.

More specifically our Mission statement is...

“Empower our people to be connected, collaborative, community-minded learners inspired to soar”.

From our website https://www.rhs.school.nz/


The land on which the schools are to be built is approximately 11 hectares in size (before building). The site is located to the north-west of Te Totara Primary School and adjoins a portion of the designation for the Waikato Expressway near North City Road and Horsham Downs Road.

In Pre-European times, the area around the school was a peat lake named Tunawhakapeke. The lake and surrounding swamps were a source of abundant resources such as tuna (eel) and harakeke (flax) for early Māori and of course the kāhu is a prominent bird in our area and is our school emblem. The kāhu (or swamp harrier) was regarded as good luck if it was seen flying overhead during a tribal meeting and we hope that it brings us the same luck too. It is also a bird that soars high and represents the high aspirations we have for our students and community too. Parts our branding and uniform also feature orange as one of it’s colours and this is reference to kokowai (paint pigment) that was produced from the iron oxide present in the rich peat swamps and gully creeks as the water flowed through them, producing ‘orange’ water commonly seen in creeks in peat areas.

Mana Whenua

First of all connections with Mana Whenua, our local iwi are Tainui and Ngāti Wairere, we are engaging with Mana Whenua across a number of levels.
The naming of our space and place has been completed in conjunction with Ngāti Wairere, right from the beginning our Board of Trustees led by Megan Campbell, worked alongside board member Wiremu Puke from Ngāti Wairere in the naming of our space and place and connections an partnerships have been developed for here…
The importance of connections with Mana Whenua have also been made explicit in our school charter https://www.rhs.school.nz/rhs-charter
So how have we as a Kura and the ākonga been going about this?

Connections this year…


The poukai is a ceremonial gathering held on 28 days a year at different marae or ceremonial centres supporting the Kïngitanga, or Mäori King Movement, which is largely based within the Tainui confederation of tribes in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island.
Our ākonga and some staff attended this year, the ākonga helped behind the scenes the day before and the day of the visit to the Hukunui Marae, working in the kitchen and the dining areas to prepare the celebratory Kai. Also taking part in the Pōwhiri that you can see in the photos above.


The annual Koroneihana (coronation) commemorations marks the time when King Tuheitia ascended the throne on the 21 August 2006 following the passing of his mother, Te Arikinui Dame Te Ataairangikaahu, who had reigned for 40 years from 23 May 1966.The August celebrations are expected to be the biggest ever to match the 10 year milestone of King Tuheitia’s reign also paying tribute and remembering his mother. Koroneihana attracts hundreds of visitors nationally and internationally to Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia, for the week long celebrations.It brings together iwi from across the motu (country) who support the Maori kingship movement which emerged in the 1850s as a symbol of unity. Throughout the week visitors and iwi members will take part in political debates on matters important to the Kingitanga and to Maoridom. Cultural performances, sports competitions, education expo and other festivities also take place. Koroneihana is one of the key events on the Māori calendar.


This has just occurred an Matua Anaru Keogh took some of our Tuakana to work behind the scenes in the kitchen at Turangawaewae Marae once more…IMG-0266

“Wairere worry project”

“Wairere worry project” looked to connect further with Mana Whenua earlier in the year, meeting with the Marae committee at Hukunui to see whether students could help take action to sustain the culture at Hukunui, to paint garden upkeep, support as required….

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Communication did break down here and students had to shift their focus to helping sustain the culture at Rototuna, by supporting our Kapa Haka group. The Kapa Haka rōpu led my Matua Anaru Keogh and Matua Robbie Moore represented our Kura at the Tainui regionals this year, this was a massive achievement with the rōpu turning around a performance in one term of intensive mahi with Year 7-11 to compete against well established rōpu from kura with mainly Year 12 and 13 akonga. To say we were proud is an understatement. The project worked behind the scenes to support, as we are a new rōpu we had no uniforms-kakahu to wear. Here is some photos of our project making muka and dying to help make the Maro our bys would wear, supported by our Tumuaki Natash who can make Maro.

Here you can see the actual finished product of Maro and a few other Kapa Haka pics…


Te Rapa R Us Project

Another partnership making a difference in our kura is the Te Rapa R Us project, linking in with the Te Rapa Unit here at school. http://www.hamnorth.school.nz/ we have a satellite class on site. A group of ākonga came up with the idea of making a difference and developing inclusion at our school, to sustain the links between Te Rapa and RHS. Ākonga have planned budgeted and developed a programme for this and have lead activities including, cooking, art, technology-puzzle development with sketch up and MDF, PE and more…See some visuals below…


Taking action with Te Totara Primary

Active Community impact project have been building their leadership skills by sharing their sports knowledge with ākonga at Te Totara primary.

Bee cool Project

We have a project at school that has developed a partnership with pacific coast technical institute. This project is helping ākonga to gain qualifications that will allow them to be employed in the Apiary industry, which is a fast growing industry in NZ. In addition we have another project also working in conjunction with PCTI to gain qualification aligned to the Fruit growing industry. See some of the ākonga taking advantage of their learning through this partnership.

These are just a few examples, I do believe we are are still learning as we go, but I think it is important to share ways that Kura can help their ākonga to make a difference and know we are on the way to ensure here at Rototuna through our powerful partnerships we…

Empower our people to be connected, collaborative, community-minded learners inspired to soar.


Crash “testing” dummies…shifting assessment.

I like to use the metaphor of a crash “testing” dummy when it comes to assessment in Education. This is part of my thinking on my leadership inquiry involving building assessment capability. Therefore, this blog is part of my evidence and reflection.

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Most educators I know are passionate practitioners, who want the teaching and learning and pedagogy that underpins it to be akonga/student centred. To start with the akonga/student and to for learning to be supported, scaffolded, guided by them and their colleagues. If we think of the New Zealand Curriculum as the road, the journey, the potential pathways for our akonga. The road can be travelled at different speeds, different routes, stops and starts along the way. We are lucky to have a curriculum that is innovative and future focussed, allows for different interpretation and different ways to travel along the way dependent on the needs of our akonga. Our beautiful country can be seen as the learning that occurs along the way.

So what is the issue? or is there an issue? Many would say that we have NCEA as a handbrake, many critique NCEA as a being handbrake. Not just NCEA, many would say assessment is a handbrake to any level of education. What if it is seen that our students are travelling the journey of their education but along the way we keep putting up these obstacles and walls along the way.

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Some students stop in time, get over or around the obstacle and achieve credits for NCEA /pass assessments and continue on their journey. Some crash into the wall and come back for another go, some don’t ever recover from the crash. What are we doing as educators, are we just preparing them to crash and dodge at certain points along the way? Can we think about this differently? Are there ways to manipulate assessment and build assessment capability in all to ensure that this is not the case. So that we are not just churning out credits and stopping the journey of learning along the way?

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What if we can get teachers and students to see and treat the learning journey differently, gather the journey as they go and not to have so many walls, end points and obstacles in the way. Not to have final summative tasks. Not to drive a route along the way in our country and have to recount exactly where they have been in a test before they move to the next point. What about curating evidence as they go, of where they have been, show their understanding at the time as they go on their journey, while it is relevant, while they are amongst it. They do that on facebook, instagram and other social media, excited about what they are up to and wanting to share.

So what if students track their own journey, share their learning along the way, we as educators can helps support that, with maps, ideas on where to go, we can be along for the ride in the car too. We can be the co-driver for our students, taking the wheel when needed and letting them drive as well. A metaphor is all well and good but what am I actually talking about and what are some systems that have been put in place to help this?

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At Rototuna we are in the middle of a journey, trying to take control of the wheel, while still letting our akonga drive. We are trying to shift to assessments for NCEA that do not take over the journey, we are trying to gather evidence in an on-going way so that the process of learning and the evidence that falls out of this is valued over the final outcome. We are still learning around this, it is taking for some shifts and building of assessment capability across the board, for our staff and our akonga.

Some of the things we have had to look at are…

NCEA-How does that work here?

Here is a presentation that we have taken our akonga and community through along the way, in regards to a two year level 2 NCEA programme, the Why? and How?


Collecting evidence in a variety of modes along the way

  • Video evidence
  • Verbal evidence
  • Written evidence
  • Collated scaffolded documents
  • Blogging as evidence
  • Google sites/websites collating the learning journey

We have unpacked these types of evidence in PLD and looked at positives and negatives as well as possibilities of each mode.

Such as…

PLD around modes…


Assessment Task Development

We have looked at how to develop our own tasks for NCEA that ensure we are allowing for portfolios of evidence, while still ensuring we meet the requirements of the standards and allow learners the opportunity to achieve the standard, with fair, valid reliable and robust tasks.

Such as…

Developing NCEA Assessment Tasks.jpg

Copy of Task Process visual arts 1.5

Also developing exemplars of tasks to help support staff and documentation to support this…

Copy of Internal Moderation Documentation

So these previous parts show some of the systems that need to be in place to enable a shift in assessment practice. In addition to this, I am also lucky enough to be a part of a team with Paula Wine-Deputy Principal in the Junior High focussing on teachers inquiring into their own practice on assessment capability, also inquiring into building assessment capability in their akonga and looking at evidence of impact on positive student outcomes. As a whole school, we have aligned our three Professional Learning Groups (PLGs) to our strategic goals. Teachers have opted into one of the PLGs that have the foci of…

  • Māori achieving success as Māori
  • Student agency
  • Assessment Capabilty

We are underway with the PLGs and staff are focusing into areas of interest… aspects that are being looked at include…

  • Learning focussed relationships
  • Quality feedback-feed forward
  • Assessment for learning/assessment as learning
  • Use of rubrics/solo/etc…
  • Development of exemplars? WAGOLLs -What a good one looks like!
  • Effective Learning Intentions and Success criteria
  • Making Learning visible
  • Exploring modes of assessment
  • Student agency in assessment
  • Teaching your students how to give themselves and others feedback (assessment capable learners)
  • Impact of previewing on learning progress
  • Teaching ‘learning to learn’ strategies (ASK)
  • Exploring how SOLO taxonomy can help students reflect & differentiate your feedback
  • and more…

Some exciting stuff that I look forward to seeing grow in their inquiries and also supporting and learning from along the way….

Supported with reading and learning such as…

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All of this is being scaffolded along the way by Arinui and just as we are wanting with our NCEA, teachers are collecting their evidence in an on-going way…

Reporting Practice

In addition to this, the other thing that we have been developing alongside this is also a shift in reporting practice…

Here is an overview of this process….


We are ensuring that reporting is not something happening at the end of semesters, when no shifts can be made to students learning and achievement. We have a process of teachers giving feedback on curriculum levels and CLOAK Values before the middle of the semester. Teachers also write comments that are blind and not proofed on where students are at and where to next. The Kaiārahi (advisors) then collate all the feedback, feed forward and conference the small group of students that they have in their whānau (advisory). This occurs and is sent out mid semester and gives times for students to act on feedback and improve on their achievement.

This is an exemplar of the Kaiārahi conference from Semester one:

Exemplar Kaiārahi Conference (1)

The criteria for CLOAK Values that we also report on were co-constructed with our students in our whānau time.


Students are also tracking their own achievement in NCEA and looking to align this with vocational pathways, so that achievement is not just sitting in silos.

Here is an example of this…


So my take on things at the end of this is, if we don’t want NCEA driving things, if we want to be responsive to our students and value the process of learning over final outcomes, or rather make the final outcome the process of learning, there needs to be supports, scaffolds and building of assessment capability for our staff and our students. In addition, this is ideally through inquiry, is informed by research and measures improved student outcomes. So let’s shift it, sit alongside our students, look at quality not quantity and push those walls out the way…..


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Update on our Waka journey at RSHS/RHS…

Ko te waka mātauranga he waka eke noa…

We are all on a new journey here at RSHS and that journey is also interlinked with our colleagues at RJHS. In some ways if we were to use the metaphor of the waka, these visuals help. It is like working in a two hulled waka, where all need to focus not only on themselves and their learning, but also all those others in the waka as well. I should note this is speaking from experience of being the highly functional waka team on Waikato te awa for our team building day with local Tainui….or maybe we had some learning to do on our rhythm!!

This is pertinent to my reflections as I believe this also aligns to our development as a school, you do need to think about what your role is in the team but also about everyone else that is paddling away at the same time (or not).

Well I do feel lucky to be a part of a journey from the ground up for a second time after working previously as a foundation staff member at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. It is from this previous journey that I do recognise that building the plane as you fly it, is not always easy. I think we need to open and honest about that as educators, so that others can see that second order change is not always smooth sailing.

Here is the SLT that I am a part of…


Working alongside our Tuamaki/Principal Natasha Hemara who came previously form being deputy principal at Southern Cross Campus. Natasha is a highly student centred educator with a moral purpose to make a difference, she is good strategic thinker, who is steering our waka, while allowing others to lead along the way…and my fellow Tuamaki Tuarua/DP Megan Barry, who comes from Waitakere College, where she was the Assistant Principal. Meg is a good systems thinker and brings experience of working with PLD, Helath and Safety, policies and more…We are extremely luck to be a part of this journey and have some awesome colleagues that we are working alongside across our school. I will explain some of the teams and functions within our school in this blog, to give you insight into our place. Below you can see the Senior Exec that sits across RHS.

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Fraser, Paula, Mel and Gareth have a huge job on their hands and have done so since their school hit the ground running last year. I am in awe their whole school has developed in such a short time frame, with an intensive around 1000 students across four years in their second year of being up and running. Often new schools have time to bring a cohort through from the start and develop along the way. In contrast they have had all year levels from the get go. We are lucky enough to bring through our first cohort into Year 11 this year and develop as we go…If I am to be honest that does bring a slight guilt that we do have time. However, it is what it is and what has been put in place, so not to dwell on this, we should be grateful and do the best for our students to create an environment of Mana Motuhake (high expectations) while still building those relationships and whānaungatanga… Even though we have small numbers, that does not mean that we do not have to have systems and processes up and running. In addition, even though we have a small cohort of 100, we are doing things a bit differently and we still need to ensure we have cohesion between the schools, while still building our path with input from our team.

So that you can get a feel for our place of RHS across the board, I always feel visuals set the scene for the culture being created…

Above is some photos from sports day, the quality photos are care of the amazing RJHS photographer Anna Pratt!!

Those above are our students across RHS, linking in with our Mana whenua, Tainui and Ngati Wairere at the Hukunui Marae for the Kingitanga celebration of the Pokai. Our students were awesome, helping set tables and work in the kitchen and Ngati Wairere are excited about on-going links with our school. In addition I feel lucky to be working with a project group taking action to help ensure that the culture and environment is sustainable for the local Marae. See a few photos below…

The projects at school are being led by Chris Langley a passionate Social Scientist who came to us from Fairfield College. Chris has been doing an amazing job of leading projects and is helping to build the capability of all our staff to sit along side students in their project learning journey. I am grateful I get to continue working with projects, as I truly believe that project based learning is authentic, real world learning that is engaging and meaningful. Taking action is one of the focuses for us as a school and I believe that this also helps social and emotional learning and growth of empathy.

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In addition to projects we have our team of Kaihautū and Kaiurangi helping to support and lead the whānau programme at our school. Similar to the advisory model at RJHS and also at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Philisophically drawing on the ideas of the big picture schools. The importance of this model within our school cannot be underestimated, with a focus on the whole student/ākonga. We have Anna Marie Keighley and Andrew Marshall  leading and steering the Waka around this aspect, supported closely by Hannah Lerke and Chris Scarlett. All of the staff are developing strong warm and demanding (care of Maurie) relationships with their ākonga and the valuing of these relationships has been acknowledged by our staff, students, whānau and is helping develop the culture on the ground.

So that you can put a name to the face here is some of our awesome crew…

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Other responsibilities across our team include the SCL’s who are the Specialised Curriculum Leaders, these are Vicki Ladd-English, Anna-Marie Keighley HPE, Shannon Brown-Performing Arts, Jenny Mangan-Technology, Jatin Bali-Science, Lianne Moore-Visual Art, Chris Langley-Social Science andAndrew Marshall-Mathematics. All of the innovative leaders are pushing boundaries to engage students in connected real world learning, while ensuring Academic and personal excellence for our ākonga.

We also have Jatin and Jordan working with Natasha and Meg on PLD and this is being developed as we fly the plane. There is a slight tension here and one we need to work through as a group of educators and a waka team. We want the PLD to be responsive and personalised for our staff, which Arinui does allow for in terms of reflection and action. However, we also have systems and processes being developed that need to be shared by all if we are to enact our vision. My hope is that we can reflect and act in an on-going way and be responsive to our staff, students and community. In addition to this Jatin is leading the school relief system alongside Louise at RJHS.

Vicki is leading literacy in the school, so that it is not seen to sit inside the silo of English and is seen as the responsibility of all educators. Vicki also brings a wealth of knowledge form her time at Ngaruawahia High School, on pathways and doing things differently and has been a past PN so has a good understanding of tracking our learners. Bijendra wears a similar hat for numeracy, with strengths in physics and mathematics to bring to the fore.

Jason Sharma is leading e-learning and he brings his “blue” thinking (Hermann’s Brain) to the table supporting Megan with timetabling. We have quite a few other techy people in the school, thinking about the pedagogy of why as well as how to use tech. These include, Jordan (A mind lab graduate), Chris, Anna-Marie and many more…

We also have Matua Anaru, leading the way in developing tikanga and understanding within our staff. He and Robbie, Nadine, Amy, Mel and I are working with Manaaki Tauira and Anaru is also working alongside Robbie to work with the ever growing Kapa Haka group.

Matua Robbie started the way with the huge focus on Haka Pōwhiri last year, see the video here…

In addition we have Amie Kiely, Susan Hill (inclusive learning) , Chris Scarlett (sport), Paula Moneypenney (guidance) and David Green (pathways) working as a wrap around service with our ākonga across RHS.

We are lucky to be in a new environment but again it all comes back to the pedagogy..

ILE Infographic showing this

I am lucky to be in this position, I want to acknowledge the awesome work of my RJHS colleagues in paving the way down here. If the waka starts to go crooked, or we get out of time (which I actually do acknowledge happened to my crew on Waikato te awa that day). Also metaphorically speaking, we are needing to do this for our staff and across both schools and hope we are doing this through the water cooler that we are hoping opens dialogue around concerns or worries. Then we all need to support each other, to find balance and find our rhythm again. To do this we need to all listen to each other, be responsive to each other and know that we are all in this together….

Creative spaces between… Curriculum, assessment and pedagogy…


This blogpost is a long time coming… I have had my head buried in some deep thinking around the potential of what can be…I have had one term in my new position as Deputy Principal at Rototuna Senior High School in Hamilton and my learning has been provoked through multiple aspects of my role and also through digging deeper to the “why”…

I am developing new relationships after my shift from HPSS half way through the year, relationships with my SLT team of Natasha Hemara (Principal) and Megan Barry (Deputy Principal). Relationships with new colleagues at Rototuna Junior High School including Fraser Hill (Principal), Melissa Moore(Deputy Principal) and Paula Wine (Deputy Principal). With a real drive and want for alignment and cohesion across our two schools, working alongside the other awesome staff at the Junior High School has been a special time, for watching and learning from others on their own new journeys. Starting to develop relationships with the akonga (students) especially the Year 10 that we have been working with, before their transition to RSHS next year. An opportunity for real transition and using the learning the rest of the staff have had in developing their relationships with the students this year. The deep understanding of their learners the staff have developed through their advisory model and innovative teaching and learning programmes.

At the same time we have been digging deeper to the why???

Using both this work by Julia Aitken http://www.learningtolearn.sa.edu.au/tfel/files/links/Valuesbeliefs.pdf and this work by Simon Sinek…

We have only started this process as we wish to co-construct this further with our staff next term as we work from Beliefs and Values to Principles and Practices. Always coming back to the why… this again will only be part of it as we need student voice in this process as well, we aim not to do education to, but with our akonga…something that has been reiterated in the #ulearn16 twitter feed today…, especially from what I could see on the panel from Rose Hipkins and Michael Fullan etc…

Here is an example of our digging deeper…

Another thing I have noted in the #ulearn16 feed is talk of challenging the system, working the system, focussing on the NZC and the potential it has for our akonga…not allowing assessment to drive things…

This is an area of passion and interest of mine that I looked at in my thesis http://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/8984/thesis.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y

This is where the alignment of curriculum, assessment and pedagogy is a must, starting with our akonga, placing them at the centre, giving them voice and in turn power with choices of contexts, passions, interests and aligning teaching and learning programmes and assessment to this. Capturing evidence of learning in an on-going way, making learning visible and valuing the process of learning over final outcomes…



I have had this well and truly affirmed after our recent trip to USA and Canada, looking to base any learning, reflection and action on research and evidence of best practice… see the blog Natasha has been writing to inform our community of our learning… http://rshsjourney.blogspot.co.nz/
This blog shows depth of reflection into each of our visits to the self-directed schools in Canada and the two “High Tech Highs” in the USA. What I would now like to focus on is the potential for truly aligning curriculum, assessment and pedagogy… Making learning visible and the importance of exhibitions to show both process and outcomes of learning.

Here are a few examples of exhibitions of learning that included process and outcomes that we saw at High Tech High (both Point Loma and Chula Vista campuses).


I could go on showing you more and more examples, the students and the teachers truly walked the walk of authentic, real world learning. Often the essential question had aspects of social justice as the drivers and provokers for deep learning, reflection and action. Exhibitions were used as a way to show this learning process and the amazing students that showed us around at both campuses, talked to the use of multiple modes to show their depth of understanding in other ways. While you see mainly work on the walls, when students exhibit they talk to the learning process and what occurred, happened and shifted along the way. Outcomes were often about the action that took place during the process as well. At High Tech High they talk to this being project based learning, which we are looking to have as part of our curriculum at RSHS. This type of authentic learning and the process of exhibitions and presenting took place right from the elementary level of school. The students that showed us around were highly articulate at explaining the process and outcomes of learning they had been involved in.


All of these exhibitions involved at least two curriculum areas that were being integrated along the way. Where teachers collaborated even if teaching took place in different classrooms. This sparked deeper thinking for the potential for more that two curriculum areas working together and evidence falling out as it may. This happened at HPSS (where I was prior) where big concepts were found across the NZC and where teachers collaborated in modules to of two to three curriculum areas. Subject specialists were teaching to threshold concepts that they had back mapped from the NZC and aligned carefully in a scaffolded way towards NCEA. You will see I have recorded a lot of reflection on this and linked to many others at HPSS back further in my blog.

BUT what if…essential questions derived through a process of project based learning could go wider, allow more curriculum areas to be covered and to emerge. What if….the learning process and exhibitions were developed by students, driven by students, scaffolded and supported by teachers… what if teachers with their “subject expert hat on” then looked at what learning has arisen, gave feedback and feed forward to where students could head next…what if teachers with their understanding of clarifications documents and EN’s of standards could “see” what was falling out of the learning naturally… or students who look at standards they think they may be covering and directing questions at teachers to clarify, dig deeper, gather further evidence where required. Teachers then giving feed forward to support deep learning as well as making sure that authentic and rigorous assessment occurs. Allowing authentic assessment that calls for community partnerships, taking action and presenting and exhibiting learning. Assessment would no longer be the driver, it would not be ignored, it would be manipulated by subject experts amd students, working the system to not having a standards driven curriculum, but a student driven curriculum, with authentic and rigorous outcomes. Where the NZC could be used to its true potential, where social action, making a difference could not only take place, but be valued. I believe it can be done, it is not easy, there are institutions that need to be broken, but challenging the status quo is the only way to truly give the power back to akonga. To put them in the drivers seat, to allow them to see connections and for us as kaiako (teachers) to support, scaffold and be the assessment experts who can make the assessment process transparent for our akonga. So students know where they at and where to next, while still digging deeper and being challenged, using their passions, interests and voice in the process. We need to “use the creative spaces between…curriculum, assessment and pedagogy”.

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

He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata from Sally Hart on Vimeo.

I made this video at the end of the term. The visuals are a summary of my time at HPSS. I have recorded many posts along the way reflecting and acting in an on-going way.

The whakataukī…
“He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” is the main thing I will take with me.

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

I am already missing the students and colleagues who became a big part of my life, in all honesty, I could not really talk about how much they all mean to me, so I used photos and a video as a way of showing this. I did talk to this at my farewell assembly… I am just starting a new journey as Deputy Principal at Rototuna Senior High School. I hope to continue recording and reflecting on my new journey here….

My girls are starting their new journeys as well as their new schools…

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Also check out the journey on this blog http://rshsjourney.blogspot.co.nz/ by Natasha Hemara the Principal of Rototuna Senior High School.

Walking the talk…. Relationships….Whanaungatanga…


Tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana
A person who is taught at home, will stand collected on the Marae (meeting house grounds)

Meaning a child who is given proper values at home and cherished within his family, will not only behave well amongst the family but also within society and throughout his life.

So what has this got to do with school you may ask? Maybe a better question could be where does the whare end and what part does a kura/school have to play here?
I would say if we are practicing and enabling true whanaungatanga, then the kura/school has a a very important part to play here. Returning to school for another year, twittersphere has been alive with people talking of the importance of relationships and knowing the learner. With ideas on how to do this, often I see neat things that primary educators are up to where they in action this and prioritise this and give time for this. There are many secondary educators attempting to do this in their own classrooms. Educators that make a concerted effort to do this and ensure they also build those important relationships. However, there is often institutions at play that can be a barrier to this. For instance how many students came back to secondary school, meet their new form teacher, got their timetable and got to it. Arriving in their classrooms to be handed their year plan, when topics would be, when assessments would be…

I have been a part of this…many years of this…surely there can be a better way…

What if a whole school can break institutions like timetables, give time to relationship building like our primary colleagues, what if they can truly get to know their learners and really start to personalise education. This week more than any other week at HPSS, have I truly seen the shift we are creating around this. We never pretend to have the answer, or the right way of doing things, but we are trying very hard. This moves, evolves and refines along the way and I don’t think we will ever think we have it “done”. I hope that we never think we have it done! We reflect and act each year. It is sometimes difficult to explain this from where we have come to where we are now. But one thing I know is that this week was pretty special and it is only from not getting things “right” that we have got to this place.

So all talk?? Here is a bit of a record for my own thinking on shifts…

Over the past couple of years we have had Individual Education Meetings where students lead the meeting and dialogue happens around learning with students, whānau and coaches. In the first year we had an evening where we met the families, the second year we met those who came to the Waitangi Celebrations, see here… https://sallyhart72.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/something-truly-special-is-brewing-here/

What we have realised is we need connections to start earlier than when we talked about the students learning part way through the year. We need to gain an understanding of who they are, through both their eyes and the eyes of their whānau. The SLT had already set about doing this as they enrol the whole whānau. However, we were missing that step with the coaches. Here are some of the questions that were discussed in the first IEM this year.

At initial IEM/Catch up with Student/Parent, Coaches complete Initial Interview. This initial interview can be used as a reference point for the duration of their time at HPSS. Questions include:
What are your interests and passions?
What sports do you play or would you like to play?
What are your main strengths?
What do you find difficult?
What are you most worried about?
What are you most looking forward to?
Favourite food and drink?
What is your favourite learning area(s)?
What was your favourite thing about your previous school?
Anything else…
Parent – Looking forward to…
Parent – Worried about…
Student aspirations…
Parent expectations…

All of this was collected in KAMAR. Not the usual data that is collected in KAMAR??? Why??? Just as important as what level they are sitting at on the curriculum! If not, more!!!

Seeing the coaches in my community and the powerful partnerships they were developing at such an early time in the year, made me a little bit like Maurie for a second! #tearsinmyeyes Maurie and the SLT have recognised the importance of this and collapsed the timetable to allow for these meetings to occur across the first week. Many can have a vision, however to walk the talk, you need to enable some shifts and be courageous in leadership. I believe this was one of those. This was continued into the second week, where once again the timetable was collapsed, for relationship building as well as introduction to the “Hobby way” if there can be such a thing 🙂 Learning about Big Projects, the Learning Design Model and more…

Most importantly was that relationship building with the coaches and the community..Here is an a summary on the focus of our hubs…

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Here is a collection of resources that hub coaches were using to develop these relationships. This is a collaborative website, which will develop over time… The week prior to this as a group of coaches in a community, we took part in many of the getting to know each other activities, so that coaches had a kete to take into the first week… this was important as some of the coaches are new to HPSS and this is quite a different aspect to our curriculum.


Maurie also introduced the idea of “ako” to all and showed his staff the true meaning of reciprocity by showing this…

Kai/ako/nga- with “ako” in the middle and Kai”ako”-teacher and “ako”nga-student… which was cool as I had not really seen this before.

The importance of community is another important aspect of whanaungatanga at HPSS. All three communities headed off on an exploration of who they are on Thursday and Waiarohia- who is the community I lead took to the waters of the Waitemata Harbour. Screen shot 2016-02-14 at 10.30.27 AM

Here is some visuals of our exploration of Waiarohia and learning about our local iwi, Te Kawerau a Maki and Ngati Whatua o Kaiapara.

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In the afternoon we explored Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). Looking at the importance of partnerships and aligning this to our school vision of powerful partnerships across everything that we do. Students lead these activities…

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Then onto connections with “whenua” in a bivouac team building activity, putting partnerships into action with hubs and coaches…

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I was also proud of the community when we received this email after our day of exploration…
Hi Sally,

Please see below some feedback from the master and the crew of Discovery 2 from your Harbour Cruise yesterday.
Not often we get comments like this from our Masters and Crew so please let your students know how much they were appreciated.
Just a little bit of feedback about the Hobsonville Point Secondary School charter today.

My crew and I were thoroughly impressed with the way the students conducted themselves onboard this morning. All very pleasant and polite.
It appeared they all enjoyed their time with us today. As much perhaps as I did learning more about the Hobsonville area whilst listening in on the commentary.

Please extend my thanks. Not all school groups are as good to deal with!


I feel proud to be a part of everything happening at HPSS, when you see the “relationships and whanaungatanga” in action it is truly special. This was highlighted at the Whanau picnic, held with and at the Hobsonville Point Primary School, where the conversations with whānau showed how important this time was, that these relationship building aspects are a huge part of our vision in action. Even though it can be quite a full on time for all involved, I believe this is hugely important in walking the talk and bringing students (old and new), staff (old and new) and whānau (old and new) along on our journey. Then also as the whakatauki spoke to at the top, we can start to merge the connections between “whare/home” and “kura/school” and the school community “whānau”.

Tangata ako ana i te whare, te turanga ki te marae, tau ana
A person who is taught at home, will stand collected on the Marae (meeting house grounds)

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Sustainable Leadership…Pumanawatanga….a beating heart….my take on this….

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(Angus McFarlane et al 2007)

Looking forward to a new year, a year to sustain and continue the development of a personalised and culturally responsive learning environment at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Note: I do not mention furniture or technology, as is the focus when most talk to Modern Learning Environments. For me, my philosophy and my doing, I mean the pedagogical practice that I support, advocate for and hope to build the capability of, in myself and others, in an on-going and responsive way. I mean coming back to the why and then moving to principles and practice from here. Reflecting on the why I come back to the circles that we developed with Julia Aitken right back at the start of our journey. Here you find the circles related to hubs that was co-constructed by our LTL (Learning Team Leaders) team at the very start.

We also unpacked about learning hubs more here…

We are shifting to being LCL’s (Learning Community Leader’s) this year, with a focus on the community. Originally Yasmin and Megan and I worked alongside Lea our DP in charge of our team. This has shifted and Ros has come on board a year ago and Danielle also comes on board for 2016. While we work separately to support our own communities, we continue to work as a team to try to help support and lead the hubs (which I liken to small whānau groups). Therefore we continue to come back to they why? and we need to be very responsive to staff, with how they are leading this aspect of the HPSS curriculum. We also need to work with a climate of high relational trust with our colleagues to listen actively and be responsive as we would with our students. We are all learning as we go and I have acknowledged in the past that hubs and being a coach to a small group of students (15 max) is not always the easiest for some. So how do we go about building capability of all, when this is an aspect that we value highly?

Good practitioners everywhere are responsive to their students, knowing that students bring so much with them, they are not empty vessels for banking. The same must be said in an environment that creates “Pumanawatanga” -a beating heart. I am over simplifying the use of this word as Angus Macfarlane et al talk to the other four concepts of…
Whanaungatanga (relationships)
Rangatiratanga (self-determination)
Manaakitanga (ethos of care)
Kotahitanga (unity and bonding)
They relate these four concepts into….
Pumanawatanga (a beating heart)
This concept involves pumping life into the other four concepts and sustaining their presence. Teachers are encouraged to adopt a position within their classrooms that is consistent with these concepts, and evidenced in their values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. The school, too, is encouraged to develop an infrastructure of care and support for students and teachers that are consistent with these concepts.

Many of these ideas are reitterated and developed within The Māori Education Strategy: Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013–2017
and also in Pasifika Education Plan 2013-2017 http://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/overall-strategies-and-policies/pasifika-education-plan-2013-2017/ it is all about relationships, with students, staff, whānau and community.

My point being that we cannot just create an environment that supports and nurtures the development of students, we have to model this also as teachers, with both students and our colleagues. I try to do this with my leadership and reflect on this in an on-going way. I listen to worries and concerns, I try to recognise strengths in my team as I would with my students. I try to support my team in different ways and inquire into my practice as a leader, just as I do as a teacher. I do not deficit theorise about staff as I would not about my students and I see the potential and have high expectations for all (Mana Motuhake) as I would my students. So how do I do this in practice? How do I ensure I am not creating a one size fits all programme for my coaches and allow them to consider the why? How do we bring new staff on board and how do we play to everyones strengths and weaknesses? How do I coach the coaches?

Well I have a mixture of both old and new coaches in my community, I need to allow all of us to support each other. Therefore for 2016, I am going to work with a buddy system in our community. This allows me to build capability in others, while not having to be the knower. For all of us to play a part in a coaching role within the community. I have paired people up on being both old hands and new, or pairing people with different strengths eg some more logistical thinkers, with more creative thinkers, introverts with extroverts, confident coaches with less confident coaches. Hopefully this allows everyone to play a part in the community journey and leadership and hubs to become a sustainable, responsive and agile part of our curriculum while supporting all to become more confident, connected learners alongside our students.

We have developed resources along the way, with a focus on my-being, my learning, my community, where we had a day on each last year. From both the LCL team and the staff voice we are shifting this. Resourcing and support can still lie within these areas, however, we are handing over the focus for each hub (in my community pair of hubs) to create this pathway for their hub time. Greater cohesion was a request from some coaches. For instance they talked of starting something on my-being and then waiting a whole week to return to this as not allowing for cohesion and feeling a bit bitsie. Others talked of still requiring support and not being left to flounder. Again, I was listening, how could I hear both these voices and do justice and be responsive to both? New staff find the hub aspect difficult to get their head around as it is so different to most Secondary Education. This does not mean that hubs should not be valued, this just means that it is different and difficult at times. This was where the idea of working in pairs arose. Also something my coaches talked to was with how busy hubs can be struggling to find time to conference and contact home. I am hoping with the pairing of coaches that they can work together to release each other allowing this important aspect of our role to be fulfilled. So my aim is to continue to develop resourcing and support the coaches in our school and in my community. However, to balance this with greater decision making and ownership over their hubs, yes support will be there, but coaches get back to the why are we doing this? and how can I do this with my students? What are their needs? Where is each one of them at? How can I be a better guide on the side?

If Robinson et al (2009) and Timperley (2008), Timperley et al (2007) have shown us that the biggest impact we can have on student outcomes is the on-going professional learning of teachers. We must ensure that this inquiry happens with hubs as well as modules at HPSS. Not to necessarily add another inquiry into the mix, but for staff to just work this way in all aspects of teaching and learning at HPSS. This will be supported this year by the Professional learning that Cindy Wynn helps to support in our school. As a reflective practitioner and leader she is shifting our inquiries to become more collaborative with small teams… the idea is that team inquire into their practice across the many aspects of our school, including hubs and big projects. This again will help make things more visible and inquiry based on evidence to inform practice.

So…. I hope to inquire across the school in my leadership and practice, always coming back to positive student outcomes, I have talked to how I want to look at this as not just being “academic” success, but also happiness and wellbeing of the students. If I am to truly be a part of a school enacting “Pumanawatanga” then I must also inquire into this with the staff I lead. Therefore, I wish to inquire into my leadership with my staff two-fold, into their success and impact on student outcomes as a learning coach and also into their happiness, if we are to model and practice what we preach and be responsive to both students and staff. In doing so, only then can we make the practices and leadership in our school sustainable.

Then this can come to light….
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MacFarlane, A, Glynn, T, Cavanagh T, Bateman, S. Creating Culturally-Safe Schools for Māori Students (2007)
Robinson, V, Hohepa, M, Lloyd, C (2009). School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration [BES]
Timperley, H, Wilson, A, Barrar, H and Fung, I (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES)
Timperley, H. (2008). Teacher professional learning and development: Educational practices series