Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A new term, new challenges, but all based on foundation principles

Getting that balance right in our children's learning is our challenge as educators. Every child has something to offer, a unique capability, a special contribution that only they can bring. As psychologist Carl Rogers once argued, all children should be unconditionally accepted with positive regard. Children need to know that they are valued for who they are, not just for what they do, and that they are accepted into the community of learning. They need to know that school is just the start of their long journey to discovery, and that failure is just another way of learning how to get it right in the end.

Teaching them tenacity, patience, the ability to apply creative solutions to problems and positive regard for their peers is infinitely more rewarding and important than just routine cognitive skills. But what set us up for the journey that our school is on? Where did the direction come from? 

Our teaching structure and learning programme development is not just an 'ad hoc' thing but a process that has been driven from our foundation principles. These were collated from community feedback during the initial vision statement consultation period in 2007 - 2008. While this was a while ago they really set the scene for our developing school journey. Everything that we do, from developing our teaching and learning culture, to making staff placements, to making staff appointments is driven by what these foundation principles were aiming for. We are an aspirational school that wants every child to realise their potential in this ever changing world. We want a staff that are reflective and open in their thinking, to be lead learners in every class with their children. Sometimes this means tough decisions are made. But know that any decision made in the management of our school is for the greater good of our whole school, our children, our staff and our community.  

 For example, the placement of a third teacher into our new entrant room was always planned for Term 4 by our own initiative. The Ministry staff a new entrant room on a ratio of 1 teacher to 18 children. Matai 9 currently has 34 children. This means at the end of last term we were still below 'the ministry funded' ratio. With 3 teachers in there for Term 4 our ratio (by the very end of the term) will get no larger than 1:14. Today it's 1:11. But our school has never just looked at numbers. We always want the best possible learning environment and structure for our children. Numbers are a part of that but so is the personnel and the teaching structure of how they are used. The funding of a third teacher is not provided by the Ministry of Education. It is a choice our school has made to manipulate the flexibility of the means available - both in staffing and funding - to make this happen. With the investment from our school to push the staffing boundaries for three teachers we have the chance to make the most of both specific acts of teaching in small groups and the enrichment of learning in the social setting of a larger group. 

So, have a browse of our foundation principles that are listed below that drive the initiative of what is this school and let me know what you think? Do they still represent, in your eyes, what we want for our children at Myross Bush? Please email me your thoughts: 
  • Well supported, highly skilled and enthusiastic staff is our school’s most valuable resource. 
  • The diverse nature of individual children will be acknowledged and catered for. 
  • An acceptance that risk taking and making mistakes are part of learning. 
  • Children should take increasing responsibility for their learning to enable them to be life long learners. 
  • Children are more able to reach their potential in a physically and emotionally safe environment. 
  • Access to quality, relevant resources and facilities enhances learning. 
  • All students will be given the opportunities to gain knowledge and skills across all curriculum areas. 
  • A good grounding in Literacy and Numeracy will give children a sound basis for future learning. 
  • Positive working relationships between parents, staff, Board of Trustees, Friends of the School and the wider community will be promoted. 
  • An attractive and orderly environment inspires pride and a sense of achievement.

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