Parata likes way city's schools are operating

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 13:00 30/05/2014

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There's no "silver bullet" to raising student achievement, but Education Minister Hekia Parata said collaborative efforts between Nelson schools was an effective measure.

Parata was in Nelson yesterday to meet with educators and discuss education policies, including the Investing in Educational Success programme, which would establish new principal and teacher roles through schools.

Parata told the Nelson Mail she was impressed with Nelson schools, which communicated with each other, particularly when her ministry earlier this year said it would zone city primary schools.

While the ministry back-tracked on that, Parata said the way the principals vowed to work together to address perceived overcrowding "showed a professional approach".

Parata said the Victory community was a good example of schools working together. She found children in the area would generally go from Victory Kindergarten, to Victory School and then on to Nelson Intermediate.

"That's a community of schools through which kids track and the more those schools work together, the easier it is to make those transitions when they go into start formal school and to intermediate."

She also hoped to see further collaboration between schools through the Investing in Educational Success programme announced in January.

The programme aimed to strengthen leadership and quality teaching across schools.

It would establish new principal and teacher roles, offering a new allowance to get the "best principals" to the schools with the highest needs, and a $10 million teacher-led innovation fund.

Teaching staff and principals recognised as "highly-capable" would be offered incentives to work in other schools in a bid to raise students' achievements.

Parata said the job of an executive principal would not be to manage a school but show "how to work together to address achievement challenges".

She said the scheme would not be compulsory and would build on industry practices of teachers learning from each other.

"We are making this systematic rather than an ad-hoc approach. Whoever applies for this and gets the job will have the skills that they can apply across a community," she said. Parata said the ministry was working with those from the education profession to design the details of the programme, and the results from the working group would be made public within the next few weeks.

Parata said the Government aimed to raise achievement levels across schools through these initiatives and others like the trades academies, and believed there were some "outstanding results".

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Parata visited Nelson Intermediate and nearby Victory Kindergarten.

Parata impressed Nelson Intermediate principal Hugh Gully when she visited the school yesterday morning.

Gully said Parata was "passionate, and knows her stuff".

She visited the English language class, which worked to help ESOL students, including those from the refugee community.

She was also shown the schools bilingual class who sang her a waita. Parata conversed with the students in te reo Maori.

Gully said he felt "heartened" with the direction of education under the minister.

"We have a passionate minister who has a vision and can articulate that vision."

He agreed Nelson schools worked well to communicate and collaborate to better students' achievements.

He said they were currently working together to moderate data from national standard testing..

Parata also met with Nelson school principals, where she discussed the Investing in Educational Success programme.

Clifton Terrace school principal Rob Wemyss said the talk was positive and interesting.

He was "very hesitant about the parachute principal" approach under the scheme, but said there were some policies that could work well in Nelson schools.

- Nelson

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