It’s not often that one receives an invitation to attend such a momentous occasion as the launch of Shine was. A Porirua Education Summit was convened at Te Rauparapara Arena on Friday 14 June. But, as members of the Board of e-Learning Porirua, five of us gladly partook of what turned out to be a very stimulating and useful day.
Clearly the organisers had left no stone unturned in their desire to bring together leaders from Porirua’s social, educational, ethnic, economic and political landscape, everyone, in fact, they could think of with an interest in helping our young people in Porirua to develop their potential. Clearly some people had been unable to come but the 200 who were there were buzzing.
There were two speakers in the morning and the rest of the day was spent working in groups around the room, finding common ground with others doing similar work within the City. The goal was to determine what children and young people in Porirua need most and to create an integrated plan of activities for the future.
The first speaker was Dr Cathy Wylie, a researcher from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research who enlarged on her 20-year longitudinal study covering impacts on children’s learning.
Cathy outlined some of the challenges that she perceived:
- Early learning experiences and their quality
- Ongoing engagement through schools
- Stand-alone (self-managing) schools in a competitive environment which has the disadvantage of providing competition between schools
- How to provide an appealing and meaningful pathway for each child/student.
Dr Wylie provided a raft of statistics to show where the children of Porirua fitted into the national data, and it wasn’t good news. The only positive part of this is, of course, that, if the whole community gets behind this initiative, the statistics can surely only get better.
The second speaker was Pat Sneddon, Chair of the Manaiakalani Education Trust, set up in January 2011 in East Tamaki, Auckland.
Pat ran a video that had been produced in one short week by 10-year old students in East Tamaki before he launched into the story of the Trust’s work. It was inspirational. It showed clearly how the work of the Trust was making significant gains in helping young people to develop their potential.
Pat outlined five critical factors that had led to the success of the Trust.
- Collaboration between everyone involved
- The need for parents to invest in their children and make collective decisions
- The importance of results – reading, writing, maths – with research in place to back this up
- The need for a complete infrastructure – reliable wireless for homes and schools. (Compared to the ICT situation that existed within each school before the Trust became involved, three ICT people now run the entire network across all the schools. This has reduced choice but increased opportunity).
- Pedagogy – the science and art of education. The Trust’s maxim is ‘learn, create and share’. They find out what it is. They do something with it. They tell the world about it – thus embracing the full development of each child to skills acquisition.
Pat acknowledged that courage is an essential element across the whole school. The work of the Trust has resulted in significant change. Teachers have a 2-4 day induction so that they can cope with learning the new on-line skills they need to can teach their students in the ways to which they have become accustomed. The Trust has set up the Manaiakalani Teacher Academy and is creating a virtual Training College.
The engagement is enormous as is the enthusiasm. Behaviour and emotional commitment has risen dramatically. Seven schools are already well developed. Four new schools will be coming onto the programme shortly, one of which is a Decile 8 school.
Following these two presentations, Nicola Meek, who was chairing the day, set everyone to work to expand on their vision for Porirua. Seven main themes emerged and the ideas generated by this initiative are being collated by Mana Education Centre Trust and will soon be shared.
For the Board of e-Learning Trust, the day was not only about the launch of Shine. Shine’s organisers were kind enough to allow e-Learning to share their new initiative, the
launch of ourporirua.com (not to be confused with the old hub that has now been taken down). Porirua City Council has been instrumental in helping e-Learning to set up the new online community and the Trust is indebted to them.
The day was a double cause for celebration for the e-Learning team and the Executive Project Manager cracked open a bottle of the very best French champagne, kindly provided by Pamela Meekings-Stewart.
The Trust’s purpose is to provide an online hub for all Porirua communities and groups to facilitate better connectivity and the exchange of information, opinions and ideas. Their mission is to help transform and maintain Porirua as a good, vibrant, thriving and robust community for all, through assisting strong and sustainable online connectivity. What better time to launch than simultaneously with the launch of Shine, an initiative aimed at connecting the whole community in an effort to connect and share everyone’s wisdom and insights with a view to building on the potential of our young people.
The new site automatically captures content from other websites participating within this growing online community. These websites can selectively share content with each other, creating a unique network where people and organisations can exchange news, information, stories and ideas. Launched at the same time were e-learning.org.nz itself, educationporirua.org.nz, healthporirua.org.nz, and many more sites will follow shortly.
Certainly an opportunity for members of the Board, together with Fraser Carson, Director of FRESCO, the brains behind the platform initiative, to celebrate.
The future of Porirua will surely Shine.
Fraser celebrates with Wendy Betteridge, Graham Kelly (Chair) Tim Davies-Colley and Pamela Meekings-Stewart