Flat Bush 7-Learning leaders with a shared vision

 

No competition here. Principals of schools in Flat Bush (l-r) Ian Morrison, Heith McNeil, Veena Vohra, Diana Patience, Genee Crowley, Mel Bland and Luke Sumich. Times photo Wayne Martin.

For the first time principals of seven different schools in Flat Bush came together along with around 250 teachers and 95 support staff to share their knowledge and resources.

They met at Ormiston Junior College on Tuesday.

Unlike most schools in a zone that are naturally competitive, Flat Bush 7 is an initiative focussed on collaboration to promote the local community of teachers, children and patents.

Self-funded by principals of Mission Heights Junior College, Mission Heights Primary, Ormiston Senior College, Ormiston Junior College, Ormiston Primary School, Baverstock Oaks School and the still-to-open in 2019 Te Uho o te Nikau Primary School  — there is no government funding involved.

Instead, the local principals put aside money from their learning budgets to harness the power of collective intelligence and the diversity of thinking as they share their school narratives.

Principal of Mission Heights Junior College Ian Morrison says that it has been a 14-year-old journey with all the schools in Flat Bush being brand new.

“The collaboration between the schools has existed for a long time so it was easy to have a day where all of us came together to share creative practices and a progressive educational pathway in the community,” he says.

“There is no competition here. When we started we understood what we wanted in this area and we are all working towards that realisation.”

He gives credit to Mary Wilson, former principal of Baverstock Oaks for encouraging collaboration in the fast developing area of Flat Bush.

Teachers had an opportunity to share their narrative on authentic learning and mindfulness with staff and students.

Veena Vohra, principal of Mission Heights Primary School, points out that Baverstock Oaks was the very first school which was part of the development of Flat Bush.

“We have always been individual islands of excellence in each school with a lot of personal learning. So this is a great way for the staff to share the best practises and avail of the expertise we have in the community.

“This also makes the transition from primary to senior college very easy for children and parents. We can even personally refer parents to go and see a particular person in another school.”

The break out themes for the day were creative practice in schools, culturally responsive practice, student well being and building resilience, collaborative practice and curriculum connections, round table –strategic networking between schools.

Guest speaker Kaila Colbin from the Ministry of Awesome spoke about `Riding the exponential wave of change’– what nanotechnology, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and robotics have in common, and what do they have to do with us? The theme tied in well with future focussed schools that thrive on innovative learning.

Heath McNeil, principal of Ormiston Primary, says there has been a history of a unique partnership with each of the new schools being initially hosted in other Flat Bush schools until Flat Bush 7 was formally established.

Luke Sumich, principal of Ormiston Junior College, says they are building on initiatives like a collective scholarship of $1000 for Year 13 students who have excelled.

“It’s about creating trust,” says Diana Patience, principal of Ormiston Senior College. “We are the only area in NZ with two junior colleges and one senior college and we want to educate the community about this model by demonstrating that by working closely together we are providing a seamless and legitimate pathway for all children, which normally doesn’t happen.”

“Genee Crowley, the newly-appointed principal of Baverstock Oaks School, says she feels privileged to be a part of a community of schools that supports and helps each other.

Mel Bland, principal of Te Uho o te Nikau Primary School, agrees saying she feels very lucky to be a part of a community of experienced principals who are mentors with shared vision.