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Extending professional learning communities across the Mt Roskill campus

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Staff across the Mt Roskill campus use professional learning circles to explore effective teaching practice, create coherent transitions, and drive greater student achievement.

"We've been able to develop some really strong relationships throughout the campus and that's fed into our PD and our practice as teachers ... it's been great to go and have a look at how another teacher teaches and just to see what are some of the strengths that this teacher has that I can actually bring into my practice."

Sarah Valintine, literacy leader, Mt Roskill Intermediate

Promoting professional conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

Professional learning communities

The following characteristics seem to be typical of effective professional learning communities:

  • Commitment to learning for all   
  • Collaborative relationships among community members
  • Shared values and vision
  • Reflective and iterative inquiry
  • Participation in networks and partnerships
  • Commitment to sustainability and capacity building.

Ki te Aotūroa – Improving Inservice Teacher Educator Learning and Practice

  • Which of these characteristics are evident in the Mt Roskill story?
  • How do teachers from different schools on the campus draw on each other's knowledge and practice?
  • In what ways do the professional learning communities at the Mt Roskill campus support the coherence principle and effective pedagogy?
  • What learning communities do you belong to?
  • Do they display these characteristics?
  • How can your communities be made more effective?

Supporting resources

Managing Professional Learning and Development in Primary Schools
This ERO report focuses on how well schools manage teachers’ PLD in primary schools. It discusses the impact of PLD programmes, describes some challenges for managing these programmes effectively, and provides recommendations for better PLD management.

Educational Leaders
This website offers a range of articles and stories about leading learning communities and leading professional learning. Schools can use these resources to inspire and support the growth of their own professional learning communities.


Mike O’Reilly, Principal Mt Roskill Primary

We set up PLCs in our individual schools as a way of learning. But all the time thinking that then by having a common way of learning through the campus – of a PLC – that we could then share our knowledge through the same format, as teachers also learn from each other. PLCs were common, so the writing lead team could come down to the literacy PLC in the intermediate, or to the primary PLC, and they would all learn from each other because that was the way we did things here on the campus. That was a really important first step that we took around building this collaboration across the campus for teacher learning.

Phil Douglas, HOD English, Mt Roskill Grammar

We've got a coordinator who can bring people together who have a shared responsibility or a shared interest in something. It goes right back to times with the grammar school’s writing lead team, where we had a day of observing in the intermediate and we’d observed a teacher's class in which the practice was very, very different to ours. It helped us understand why the transition can sometimes, perhaps, be difficult for students coming from the intermediate school to our environment, and that we maybe are expecting things that are very, very different from them. So by getting the link backwards and forwards it is very important in transitioning students, but for us as high school teachers, it’s also really important to see practice that is very effective and is different to ours. A good example was the fact that we saw the process of brainstorming and scaffolding displayed throughout the process, and that really gelled with us, and we still talk about it now as something we need to emulate a little bit more. So by establishing that relationship, you really get a bit of momentum going. It keeps the conversations, I guess, current – you’re still willing to talk about things; they don't get forgotten. It’s not just a bit of PD that disappears, it’s something that stays with you and it lives on.

Sarah Valintine, Literacy leader, Mt Roskill Intermediate

So we’ve been able to develop some really strong relationships throughout the campus and that's fed into our professional development and our practice as teachers, which has been fantastic. It’s been great to be able to get into some peer coaching and to go and have a look at how another teacher teaches, both at different schools, but also within our own school. Just to see, what are some of the strengths that this teacher has that I can actually bring into my practice?

Joe Worrall, Teacher, Mt Roskill Intermediate

It was really good to see, to expand, not just the teachers that I was working with directly but to work with teachers from the grammar school and the primary school. That helped a lot with my induction into the community, and hearing their perspectives on the students that were involved.

Sarah Valintine, Literacy leader, Mt Roskill Intermediate

For instance, I worked with Calum from the grammar school, and I would go over to his classroom sometimes and watch him teaching different subjects. I watched him once teaching creative writing. Some of the things I got from him I was able to bring back into my classroom – some of the ways he looked at words, he looked at vocabulary, he looked at structure. After that I could bring it back into the discussions we had at the intermediate school and say, “Hey, they are doing these things at the grammar school and they are really important for our kids to know”.

Janet Moyle, Deputy principal, Mt Roskill Primary

One of the fantastic things being part of the MERGE project [Maximising the Engagement of the Roskill Groups Education] with the primary school, intermediate, and the grammar is knowing that the children from the primary school are going to the intermediate, and then on to the grammar. The intermediate cares about the learning that's happened prior with us, and they take our data and the information that we pass on. We know that they’re starting where the children need to be and that they’re going to progress their learning further. We take a huge interest in the children when they even go through to the grammar school, knowing that we’re all collectively working to get our children through to NCEA and beyond. It’s just a wonderful part of our project, knowing that the children on the campus are being catered for with all the needs that they have.

Sarah Valintine, Literacy leader, Mt Roskill Intermediate:

One of the best things for me has been getting involved in this community of learning. It’s been exciting and I’ve really enjoyed the relationships that I’ve developed – just being challenged by other people and being able to have chats, being able to send an email to Calum or another teacher somewhere and say, “What do you think about this?”, and just getting challenged and excited about teaching.

Published on: 20 Jun 2014