Susan Says … February 2018

1_NL SusanFrom the CE’s Pen 

Kia ora, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Kia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Taloha ni, Nisa bula vinaka, Ni hao, Namaste, greetings from Te Hononga Akoranga, COMET Auckland.

Just six weeks into the year, 2018 is already reminding me of the old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times”. Auckland schools are short-staffed as the combined effect of rising housing costs and a nation-wide teacher shortage kick in. Meanwhile, Pacific language ECEs are raising concerns that the English language requirements for teacher registration are a barrier to skilled and otherwise qualified staff being employed and paid as teachers. On the policy level, the new Government has moved quickly to establish fees-free tertiary learning for first-time students, to remove the requirement to report against National Standards and announce the end of charter schools, among other changes.

Not all these changes are negative by any means and, in fact, change is needed if our education system is to deliver equitably for all Aucklanders.

However, the effect of multiple changes at one time adds uncertainty and stress for everyone. It makes it hard for educators to focus on listening to their students and communities, to understand their goals and aspirations and to work with them towards those goals.OCC-STA-cover

Two examples of the value of this kind of focused listening have come across my desk recently.

One is a report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner on children and young people’s experiences of education. Disturbingly, many of the young people reported experiencing racism at school and being treated unequally because of their culture.

This is hard for all in the education system to hear, but it is crucial information if the persistent achievement gaps by ethnicity are to be addressed.

A first step may be to listen to the voice of learners at all levels of the system – a message that came through clearly from the students interviewed for the report.

The second example is an inspiring seven-part blog series by students from Kia Aroha reading-our-worldCollege in Ōtara. With help from their former principal, Dr Ann Milne, the students have investigated the government’s Investing in Education Success policy (including COLs – Communities of Learning). The resulting blogs are cogent and articulate critiques of the policy and its disconnect from the students’ own goals to succeed as Māori or Pasifika learners.

If all this whets your appetite for youth voices, you may like to take a look at the videos voices_groupfrom our own student-led consultation with 800 young Aucklanders.

Learning Ak FB

Or check out the latest articles by members of our Learning Auckland student editor team, on the LA magazine Facebook page.

In the next few weeks, keep an eye out for …

  • The latest Auckland education and skills data snapshot, due out very soon
  • Our annual stakeholder survey – we’ll be sending it out soon, and we look forward to your feedback and suggestions on how together, we can make a bigger difference for Auckland.
  • A redesigned website. While it’s under construction, we will be sure to keep you updated through Facebook, Twitter and our WordPress blog.

Ngā mihi nui,

Susan Warren

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