The Education Issue: Learners at front and centre

Marlborough Girls’ College acting principal Jo Chamberlain.

Marlborough Girls’ College acting principal Jo Chamberlain.

What are our aspirations for our young people today and in the future, and how best do we as a local community support them?

Our world is rapidly changing, creating new and exciting opportunities and futures. Education and schooling is changing to equip modern learners more effectively – and we're excited about that!

At our recent 'Community Leader Consultation' meeting, where we launched our co-location consultation process, there was an enthusiastic buzz about learning and education.

I was reassured that this group of Marlborough Community Leaders' articulated aspirations closely reflected the front end of our New Zealand National Curriculum. Over recent years these aspirations have increasingly become the focus of teaching and learning at Marlborough Girls' College (MGC).

The aspirations of identity, personal management, creativity and innovation, student-centred learning, effective relationship development and sustainability very closely mirror the NZ Curriculum's key competencies. This community endorsement fully reinforces the work and the direction in which the College is moving.

Our teachers at MGC are committed to the ongoing changes we are making in learning and teaching. Collaborative teams across the school are continuously reviewing current programmes and planning new programmes to engage students and better prepare them as independent, lifelong learners.

How do our young people become confident, connected, actively involved, well functioning contributors to our world? What do these changes in education need to look like?

Our traditional secondary structures of learning have been restricted by subject content often taught in isolation and through rigid timetabling. Straight desks in classrooms no longer cut the mustard. Learning is more contextual and integrated across the curriculum, frequently based around a topical theme. This offers more meaningful, engaging and reflective learning experiences for students. With this comes greater choice, flexibility and ownership.

Digital platforms have exploded the possibilities for accessing, sharing and presenting information. Our teachers and students now work quite differently. Our learning is more competency and skills based, encouraging inquiry, curiosity, creativity, self responsibility and reflection. The Teacher increasingly facilitates the learning and students are no longer spectators uninvolved in the process. They are encouraged to ask, inquire, investigate, create, self evaluate and take responsibility for their own learning.

Our relationships today are based on mutual respect, personal responsibility, collaboration and restorative practice.

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At Marlborough Girls' College, we remain fully committed to the delivery of the best quality education and supports for our students. We recognise that the quality of the learning and teaching, and relationships, are the most important factors. Having said that, we are very excited at the prospect of our new co-located Colleges and the significant opportunities it will provide all learners in Marlborough.

I became passionate about girls' single sex education when I arrived from a co-ed city college to Marlborough Girls' in 2003. I observed and experienced the many benefits a single sex education afforded girls, and watched them soar with confidence.

MGC and Marlborough Boys' College on a co-located campus will retain their single sex education identity and values as separate schools. However, they will also benefit from the opportunity to share facilities, resources and enable learners from both Colleges to come together and learn when beneficial - a win-win as I see it.

In our future visioning we are also involved in strengthening our educational relationships with early childhood, primary and tertiary providers in a seamless pathway. Improved sharing of information about our learners, their smoother transitions and broadened pathways and choices will be valuable outcomes.

Our Piritahi Kahui Ako (Community of Learning) is an immense and fantastic first step in this collaborative approach in Marlborough. Together we need to explore these opportunities.

I encourage you to add your voice to this consultation process. We all have high hopes and expectations for the future of every Marlborough young person. I urge you to contribute to the planning of our schools of the future. This is our moment! 

Whāia te pae tawhiti kia tata. Whāia to pae tata kiā maua.

Pursue the distant pathways of your dreams so they may become your reality.

 - The Marlborough Express

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