All eyes will be on Rotorua schools this year as they break new ground with their four Communities of Learning.

The Rotorua Central Community of Learning met today to discuss the group's direction and what it hoped to achieve in 2017.

Communities of Learning, formerly known as Communities of Schools, are made up of groups of schools with the aim of encouraging more collaboration and support among educators, rather than competition.

The idea was borne of the Government's Investing in Educational Success initiative which poured an additional $359 million into the sector.


But, thanks to the social sector trial, Excel Rotorua, Rotorua schools had already begun collaborating before the initiative was introduced.

Local schools in the Central Community were among the first to come on board with the Government initiative and are now leading the charge.

Lead principal Nancy MacFarlane, of Glenholme School, said children and achievement were "at the heart" of the community.

"We are still early in the development but because we did come in pretty early on into the initiative, we are a little further ahead so it's understandable others may be watching to see what we're doing.

"It can be overwhelming and daunting to think the country is watching us but our focus is looking at our achievement challenges and what is affecting our tamariki."

Ms MacFarlane said another strength of the Rotorua education sector was its powerful and growing relationship with local iwi.

She said it was a relationship envied by those in other regions and one that had played an integral role in helping schools collaborate.

Rotorua Seventh Day Adventist School principal Lanea Strickland said she was excited to be part of the community.


She said before its establishment, many fellow educators didn't know her school existed, despite it being in Rotorua for nearly 65 years.

"My mother's mum was illiterate and my mum used to actually get in trouble for going to school... I am so passionate about our children and I want to be able to help every child that comes through our doors to achieve."

Local director of education Ezra Schuster said it was easy to "forget and underestimate how powerful our teachers are".

"For some of our tamariki, [teachers] really are like another aunty, uncle, mum or dad. This is not about principals, it's not about teachers, it's about our children."

Mr Schuster said when schools collaborated, children did not belong to just one school, they belonged to all schools.

"We need to work together to ensure there is support for all learners."

Communities of Learning:
The Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Taupo regions have 14 Communities of Learning so far - 7.8 per cent of the total number of Communities
115 Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Taupo schools involved
47,125 learners affected