Louise Anaru – Leading with moral purpose

Louise Anaru talks about how she worked with the teachers, students and educational community to build a shared vision and action plan for the school. 



I guess the first step to creating a shared vision was really tapping into our moral purpose as a staff and as a community. So, asking questions or having those conversations about why are we here? What is the purpose that are here? What do we hope to achieve? And whether student, parent or teacher we all have the same vision and that was to make a difference and ensure that all our students are successful and achieve.

It took some time to gather the data, make sure it was accurate, identify any gaps in the data and then we met as a staff to analyse it together. 
In terms of our NCEA data, once we looked through each individual student’s progress (and that was about mid term three I think when I first started) it was clear that there was a real sense of urgency. All of the students had between zero to twenty credits. And so we had a real job to do in a short matter of time, which created that focus, I suppose, and motivated staff to really work together with that shared vision that we had for student success.

Once we had established what the picture was, we looked at – did a bit of a literature review around what are our Ministry expectations for achievement? Just to have some dialogue about our expectations. What do we expect as a staff in terms of our students success and achievement? And certainly (we) could see from that that the times have changed from the bell curve and we don’t expect fifty percent to fail anymore.

In terms of The New Zealand Curriculum, student outcomes are certainly around the capable 21st century learner in terms of being confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners. The Marautanga messages were around students all reaching their potential and achieving success. So there’s that, real sort of, half glass full approach now, I think, about realising potential. 

And after reviewing that, also Ben Levin’s work around how to change 5000 schools, it was quite inspirational. And looking at the research he’s done around student potential. And I think that the finding there was that there has been no research that's been able to show the limits of student potential, and therefore it’s limitless and we need to aim high and raise those expectations.

We had a look at where we were, where we’d like to be, and then came up with an action plan as a staff. It was a really good way to share the internal expertise and tap into that knowledge within our staff. To hear about how they’ve achieved success with strategies they’re using, and looking at evidence of how we know that those strategies are successful. We came up with a range of ideas together. Also looked at those strategies as a leadership team and what we could be doing to improve and ensure student success.

We obviously implemented the plan in term four and I think a key part of it was also getting students’ feedback and input. Teachers all completed a SWAT analysis and students gave us feedback about their aspirations, areas that needed to improve in terms of their learning and achievement, and we also got feedback from parents.

Probably the most powerful was when – just through visiting homes and talking to parents, letting them know that we had a shared vision – that we knew that their children were capable and successful and wanted to work with them and wanted to seek their advice on how we could ensure that success.

A shared vision

Louise used these strategies to build and implement a shared vision and action plan.

  1. Worked towards agreement on school’s moral purpose:
    Why are we here?
    What do we hope to achieve?
  2. Analysed data:
    NCEA data showed too many students leaving without the level of qualification they need to succeed in life.
    Current data showed that too many students were short of credits for NCEA levels.
    Student attendance needed to be improved.
  3. Reviewed key literature about student learning and achievement:
    Including Ben Levin’s (2008) book How to change 5000 schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  4. Developed an action plan:
    Raise expectations and belief in students’ ability to achieve.
    Create a sense of urgency regarding improving students’ achievement.
    Identify achievable credits.
    Goal setting with students and families.
    Improve attendance.
    Home visits.
    Additional learning support and intervention for students not achieving.
    Attention to teaching approaches.
    Emphasis on developing systems for tracking progress of each student.
  5. Implemented the action plan
  6. Evaluated the action plan

Tags: Leadership and NCEA

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