Two Rotorua communities of learning say they've had success in their first year as the first survey into the communities' success shows mixed results nationwide.

The Rotorua Central Community of Learning and the Eastern Rotorua Kahui Ako were established in early 2017.

Communities of learning, or Kahui Ako, are made up of groups of schools with the aim of encouraging more collaboration and support among educators.

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


The Central community includes nine schools and 25 early childhood education providers while the Eastern one includes five schools and nine early childhood providers.

A report on teaching practices featuring responses from 4355 teachers in 335 schools has been released.

It shows 34 per cent of teachers involved believe the communities are strengthening their own teaching and 40 per cent say the communities have given them opportunities to collaborate with other teachers.

Eastern community lead Lorraine Taylor said that result might be because not every teacher was directly involved on a ground level.

"We've got teachers that work in our schools who go to other schools and share their experiences, but not every teacher is involved in that," Taylor said.

Leading teachers such as heads of department regularly meet to share knowledge, then take that back to the teachers in their own schools.

But that required time out of the classroom, and that's a challenge, said Rotokawa School principal Briar Stewart.

"One of the challenges is that the funding to release the teachers isn't in the Kahui Ako budget. It's a big burden for schools to bear and that hampers the collaboration in some ways."


Taylor said working with others was key, despite the challenges.

"It's much better for schools to work with other schools. You get one-eyed in your focus if you don't work outside your school," she said.

"We're all trying to do the same thing and we shouldn't be doing that in isolation."

Central community lead Nancy Macfarlane, of Glenholme School, said the community was "making huge inroads into a very cohesive learner pathway".

Macfarlane said the schools aimed to make the transition between primary, intermediate and high school as seamless as possible.

"We're using big ideas and concepts within our own school context. We start out with big ideas then a school tailors that to their own school context," she said.

"Everything about Kahui Ako is hard, challenging work but it's a major shift in the education sector and it's timely."

Macfarlane said students, teachers and governance alike would vouch for the success of the communities.

"It's a challenge but it's opening new pathways," she said.

"It's invigorating to see that when kids come to school they are talking about the learning and the learner."

Secretary for Education Iona Holsted said the survey results were "good news for our tamariki".

"As most communities of learning have only recently been established, we can expect these results to shift over time."

The lead author of the report, NZ Council for Educational Research chief researcher Dr Cathy Wylie, said the results were impressive considering many communities were only just getting under way.

Communities of learning:
- As of February 27, 1761 schools, 495 early learning providers and 11 tertiary providers in a community.
- 214 Communities of Learning around the country.
- Kahui Ako in the Rotorua District: Eastern Rotorua Kahui Ako, Reporoa CoL, Rotorua Catholic Faith Based CoL, Rotorua Central CoL, Te Maru o Ngongotaha CoL.
- Across the communities in the Rotorua District there are 40 primary, intermediate and secondary schools and 53 early childhood education providers.
Education Counts