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Sumner School – Developing our vision with our community

Sumner School logo.

Community consultation

The Sumner School Vision for Teaching and Learning originated from a desire by school management and the Board of Trustees to create an authentic school charter document.

The process of creating an authentic school charter document began with two board members, the principal and a deputy principal forming a subcommittee to discuss The New Zealand Curriculum. The importance of community engagement and involvement in the development of the school's vision was a key message to emerge from this document. Based on this, a consultation process was undertaken with our community to find out what they wanted from the education of their children.

A general meeting was advertised with the purpose of getting as many parents along as possible to discuss the key issues relating to the learning culture which existed at the school, and ideas for the future.

The concept of developing key competencies and attitudes was discussed; what these things were and what it meant for schools. The excellent turn out coupled with the positive response from parents clearly demonstrated community interest in getting involved in more detailed discussion around these key points.

A focus group approach was the next stage in the process. Members of the Board of Trustees contacted parents to establish focus groups of eight. The evening began with a presentation to all the parents about The New Zealand Curriculum, what it involved and what implications it might have for Sumner School. The importance of 21st century learning in preparing students for their future was a major theme of the eveing.

Each board member facilitated a focus group discussion around the following key questions:

  • What makes Sumner unique both as a place and as a community?
  • What learning experiences would you like your child to have had before leaving Sumner School?
  • What skills and attributes would you like your child to be able to demonstrate before leaving Sumner School?

The information gathered during this discussion was collated and a thematic analysis conducted.

This summary was presented to the next full board meeting and an external facilitator invited along to help continue this discussion and help refine the information into some succinct statements about teaching and learning at Sumner School.

Three major themes emerged:

  • Community
  • Values
  • Curriculum
Sumner School, community, values, curriculum.

If you cannot view or read this diagram select this link to open a text version >>

This Vision for Teaching and Learning was reported back to the community via newsletters and flyers, and thanking all involved for the part they had played in its development.

With the school's Vision for Teaching and Learning in place the next task was to make it relevant to all members of the community: students, parents and teachers. A Teacher Only Day was held where the staff embarked on a similar process to the parent focus group to define what they felt were the crucial elements in the education of all students. The BOT chair facilitated a session on how the Vision was created from a parent and governance perspective, and the important role teachers would play in encouraging and promoting this both as individuals and members of the teaching team.

Throughout the day, links were made to the revised curriculum, in particular how the Vision might be implemented at classroom level through the deliberate teaching of the key competencies.

Our next step is to work with groups of students to help their understanding of the significance of the Vision, what part it plays in their education, and why it is considered so important to the Sumner School learning community.

The development of the Vision for Teaching and Learning impacts on all aspects of life at Sumner School. At the Board of Trustees level, all strategic planning is now focussed on this vision, in particular; personnel, property and curriculum. By embedding the vision statement into planning at this level, the Board has been able to directly feed ideas from the community, through its consultation process, into the development of the school.

Ultimately, as a result of this process, the charter has become an authentic document on which all future school activities will be based.

curriculum design and review

Updated on: 23 Jul 2010