Three Tauranga schools have joined a controversial Government education scheme with a group of Catholic schools from around the region.
St Mary's Catholic School, St Thomas More Catholic School and Aquinas College have joined the Rotorua Catholic Faith Based Community of Schools.
St Mary's principal Ben Fuller said Catholic integrated schools in the region worked together anyway, so the schools were not forming a new cluster, but rather aligning the existing group with the Government's initiative.
"For us, it's not a new organisation. There will be some new processes but all built around improving outcomes for our students."
Mr Fuller said the extra funding offered in the scheme meant more teachers could take part in professional development, he said.
Kath Joblin, principal of St Thomas More, said the schools already met regularly to review and improve at all levels, so being part of a community of schools came naturally.
"The Catholic schools within our diocese are very collaborative and focused on delivering excellent education outcomes for all students.
"We don't operate out of a competitive model because we have a common philosophical and moral view which each Catholic school promotes," she said.
Mrs Joblin said several of the principals in the new cluster met when the initiative was in its early stages to discuss whether to go down this track.
"One of the areas we are looking at as a potential area for collaboration is in science For example, by adopting science as one part of our long-term plan under an IES model, there is more scope for sustained progress."
Aquinas College principal Ray Scott said the schools were looking at common grounds and the connection between primary and secondary schools.
NZEI board member Jan Tinetti, who is also the principal of Merivale School, has been part of a group of Ministry of Education officials and NZEI members who have been working together to create a communities of schools framework that is more flexible for schools and will likely be ready to put in action by Term 4.
Ms Tinetti said many schools had initially been against joining the scheme because it did not suit their needs. "There was a lack of flexibility around the model and it couldn't be changed to suit local needs."
The joint initiative was working to create more flexibility so early childhood centres and support staff could be included.