While there has always been co-operation between schools and early childhood centres in Dannevirke, a unique Community of Learning will allow schools to work together more effectively to enhance education in our town.

Stephen Snell, principal of Dannevirke South School, has the role of lead principal, but has told the Dannevirke News, the Community of Learning - Tamaki Nui a Rua Hapori O Te Ako, is a team effort, with everyone working together to strengthen educational outcomes for students.

"This is a systems change - a new way of doing things," he said.

"This is the biggest change to education since Tomorrow's Schools.

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"One thing we know is how important it is to develop a local curriculum for early childhood, primary and high school education. "The CoL is about schools working together and it's fantastic if all our early childhood centres and schools are strong and every child has the same opportunities."

Katrina Casey, Head of Sector Enablement and Support for the Ministry of Education, told the Dannevirke News Communities of Learning/Kāhui Ako are a huge change to the education system.

With two across school teachers and in-school teachers supporting the work within schools, Mr Snell said one of the important aspects was to involve early childhood education centres as equal partners in the CoL.

"We've had no blueprint for this, we've constructed it ourselves which has taken a bit of time," he said.

"But we have developed a really good plan of action which has helped us to work towards the future."

Mr Snell said the CoL had looked at issues and where they could improve.

"There is really good work being done in all our schools, with the transition from early childhood centres to primary schools, developing a common understanding across the board.

"We're about to being trialling it and putting it into practise and this is an excellent piece of ongoing work," he said.

"From the beginning of next year the high school will have clarity and understanding around data from every primary school for every Year 8 student. This means they can get stuck into teaching sooner.

"The improvement in transition from primary to high school for Year 8 students will also include special needs students and technology students.

"I find it really exciting high school and primary school teachers are visiting each other's classrooms, leading to a better understanding, so we can look at how we can do things better for children's achievements. We want to improve collaborative practise across all schools with professional development provided to enable this from the beginning of next year."

Another big initiative is the innovative learning fund to help primary schools and early childhood centres improve practices.

"This will help us do our best for students," Mr Snell said.

Robyn Forsyth, principal of Huia Range School, said the CoL will have a huge impact on students.

"It gives us a much larger base of knowledge and being part of the CoL also means we have access to much higher funding level for providing professional development for our staff," she said.

And Dannevirke High School principal Di Carter said the adoption by Dannevirke primary schools and early childhood education centres, along with the high school, in a Community of Learning (CoL) is a big bonus.

"It's really nice to be working in a CoL, all for the common good of students," she said.

The project is also being supported by Brian Paewai, principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Tamaki Nui-a-Rua.

"Although the kura isn't part of the CoL, we are very appreciative of the support Brian is providing," Mr Snell said.

"The cultural, community and science aspect of the project will be unique to Dannevirke schools and provide wonderful learning opportunities for all our kids, but we can't do any of these things without our iwi.

''They are involved in our management meetings and we will continue working with them to ensure a positive influence on our students' learning."

Mr Snell said he's personally learned a lot, is very grateful for the input the iwi have had so far and he's looking forward to greater input.

This year the CoL was launched and explained the CoL to teachers, but now it's time to take it to the community at an open evening at Dannevirke High School on October 18.

Mr Snell said eventually the CoL wants to start talking to business owners and tertiary providers.

"We want real learning pathways for our kids," he said.

Community of Learning launch:
* Wednesday, October 18.

* At Dannevirke High School hall, 4pm to 7pm.

* Each primary school will focus on a different learning year and representatives from the high school and iwi will also take party.

* The Dannevirke CoL involves Weber, Norsewood and Districts, Ruahine, Dannevirke South and Huia Range primary schools, Dannevirke High School, Appleton Kindergarten, Country Kids ECE (Norsewood), Kids Castle Education and Care ECE, Central Kindergarten, Busy Bees, First Years Preschool, Our Place and Sprouts Home-Based Care.

What is a Community of Learning?

Communities of Learning are groups of kura/schools which come together, along with their communities, to raise achievement for all tamariki and young people by sharing expertise in teaching and learning (ako), and supporting each other.
The Dannevirke Community of Learning will work with the students, parents, families, whānau, iwi and other communities within our community, as the support and involvement of these groups is essential for the Community of Learning to progress towards its goals.

* The Dannevirke CoL has identified achievement goals in reading, writing and mathematics with 85 per cent of all primary students achieving their expected National Standards. 85 per cent of all secondary students achieving NCEA Level 2 and empowering all school leavers with the skills to access suitable pathways for future careers.