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Waimea Schools Community of Learning


The Minister of Education has approved an application from the schools in the Waimea district to form a Community of Learning (CoL).  The 12 schools in the Waimea CoL currently are:


Appleby School

Brightwater School

Garin College

Henley School

Hope School

Ranzau School

Richmond School

St Paul’s School Richmond

Salisbury School

Waimea Intermediate School

Waimea College

Wakefield School


What is a Community of Learning?

CoLs are part of the government’s Investing in Educational Success programme, designed to bring local schools into closer partnership with each other to improve student achievement.  CoLs are forming throughout New Zealand as groups of schools share student data more closely, identify common challenges and work together to overcome them.  CoLs encourage teachers, Principals, Boards of Trustees and communities to view the success of all students in a district as a shared responsibility.  A CoL must include schools that cover Years 1-13; that is, primary, intermediate and secondary.  Early Childhood centres may also be drawn into a CoL.


What sorts of things does a CoL focus on?

CoLs identify the achievement challenges that are particular to their students and set targets for improvement.  Many CoLs identify achievement challenges in core curriculum areas: English (reading and writing) and Mathematics, and may identify specific groups of students (for example, Year 6-8 boys’ writing).  CoLs develop action plans to meet their challenges, and these may include a wide range of strategies that help to improve learning; for example, student well-being, transitions between schools and better home-school relationships. 


How is a CoL run?

Each Community of Learning appoints a leader from among the Principals of the participating schools, who is released two days per week to manage the CoL.  Each CoL also appoints teachers with particular expertise from among their staff to support the work of reaching their achievement challenges.  Some of these teachers provide expertise across all schools in the CoL and others share their expertise within their own school.  CoLs receive additional funding for these roles to do their CoL work.  None of these appointments have yet been made in the Waimea CoL.    


Does a CoL mean our school will no longer be self-managing?

No.  All schools that are part of a CoL retain their own Boards of Trustees and continue to manage themselves much as they have always done.  The difference is that schools contribute some time, energy and resources towards meeting the common challenges of the CoL.

A school does not have to join a CoL. 

There is a long tradition of collaboration among the Waimea schools on matters of staff professional development, sporting and cultural events and sharing student information.  The CoL will build on these positive relationships with the intention of improving schooling for all our students.  

Parents and whanau will have opportunities to contribute to the goals and work of the Waimea CoL as it develops.  If you have any questions about the CoL please contact the school office.


Peter Verstappen 









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Here’s What We Mean by ‘Student-Led Learning’


Jordan, who is six years old, was recently appointed to our Student Council as a representative of Matai Kereru team.  Last week our Council meeting clashed with scooter training for Jordan.  He came to the office to tell me but I was out, so what did Jordan do?  He wrote me this letter:



To mistir vstn

Sore I cant go to the

Shooht cousool

Becose I

Got scooti

Chraning at



from Jordan.


I love this letter, for two reasons.  First, it is a beautiful expression of a child learning to write; look at how he has made sense of the words ‘student council’, you can hear Jordan picking out the sounds in his mind. 


Second, it is a beautiful expression of student-led learning.  You might ask, ‘what’s he learning?’ but consider this.  Here’s Jordan, 6, as a thinker: he knows he has an obligation to the Student Council, he sees he cannot fulfil it, he comes to tell me, that doesn’t work, he decides he needs to write to me so he creates this letter and brings it to the office.  This is even more impressive because Jordan doesn’t know much about the Student Council yet, he’s only attended one meeting, but he knows he has some sort of obligation to it.  Here’s Jordan as a communicator: if he can’t tell me in person, he’ll slave over this letter to get the message to me.  Here’s Jordan as a planner: he’s thinking ahead and balancing his commitments.  Okay, Jordan will have had some prompts from his teacher, but he’s taken up the challenge and look at what he’s achieved. 


I value the opportunities children have to be leaders at school through the Student Council, committees, monitors and other roles.  Their work in these roles contributes to the smooth running of the school, but as well as leading others they provide real occasions for children to lead themselves, to become masters of their own learning.  And that’s what a democratic curriculum looks like.


Have a good week,




Peter Verstappen 


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