Local Social Sector Trial Excel Rotorua has set the groundwork for ongoing community-wide collaboration to achieve successful results for the district's learners, Mayor Steve Chadwick said.
In response to today's announcement New Zealand's Social Sector Trials are finishing with some transitioning to community-led models, the mayor said local leaders would continue to work together for the benefit of the district's younger generations.
"The question for our community is what we do now with regards to setting priorities and how we continue a genuine community leadership approach to achieve shared goals and aspirations."
Rotorua's Social Sector Trial, led by Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho Ake Trust, was different from others around the country in that it focused on education with the aim to make Rotorua a great place for education.
It involved a series of projects aimed at keeping children engaged in education and bringing the sector together to find local solutions to address local needs and aspirations.
A small advisory group provided technical advice and a Community Leaders Group, chaired by the mayor, drove the establishment and implementation of an action plan.
The Community Leaders Group included representatives from all sectors of education, as well as government agencies, including health and police.
Mrs Chadwick took over as chair from her predecessor Kevin Winters.
She said several key successes have emerged from Excel Rotorua projects, including Rotorua's education sectors and principals proactively collaborating to achieve common goals, and investment in the development of principals' leadership skills.
Rotorua had also embraced the concept of communities (school clusters) of learning, Mrs Chadwick said.
A sustainable project to emerge has been Nga Pumanawa e Waru, a district-wide e-learning initiative, supported by Next Foundation and with 18 early adopter schools involved in its first year.
"That's a really great initiative based on existing models elsewhere and with the potential to achieve great educational outcomes for not only learners, but also their families," Mrs Chadwick said.
"Another thing that has endured from our Excel trials is the ability of the office of the mayor to call community leaders together."
Mrs Chadwick said there had been no clear direction from the government about that level of community investment.
"While we're sold on the idea of communities deciding their own priorities, we need to work out how we will do that going forward. Things won't stop here.
"There is now an opportunity for us as a community, perhaps as part of setting a 2050 vision with the council, to set our own priorities and look at how we might achieve success in those areas," Mrs Chadwick said.
"In terms of a next step following the end of the Social Sector Trial, we need to have a final meeting of the Community Leaders Group and see how we can continue the collaboration we've established.
"The goal to help all our children achieve educational success remains and there is a commitment to continue the work we've started in some form or another."
No date has yet been set for the Community Leaders Group's final meeting.
"We've enjoyed working together, we see plenty of potential and while we're still to shape our next steps, we'll continue working together on what we believe will make a difference," Mrs Chadwick said.
"I think we've learned a lot from Excel including how important it is to our community that we value our children."