University’s Learning and Change Networks delivering results

23 October 2014

The University of Auckland has welcomed a report highlighting the benefits of Learning and Change Networks among schools.

The New Zealand Initiative report - No School is an Island: Fostering Collaboration in a competitive system - looks at the benefits of Learning and Change Networks (LCN) – in which around 10 percent of schools are currently involved.

The LCNs encourage collaboration within the usually competitive education system. They enable teachers to learn skills from one another and for pupils, their families and the community to work together to raise the schools’ achievement.

Networks of schools (which range from between three and 27 schools in size) voluntarily form as LCNs. The Ministry of Education has allocated $7 million for the initiative and has contracted the University’s Faculty of Education to facilitate the two-year project by working with about 60 LCNs.

The results so far are promising. Ministry analysis of  53 LCN schools found a 17.2 percent increase in the proportion of students achieving ‘at’ or ‘above’ standard between 2012 and 2013, compared with a 9.4 percent increase for a matched control sample.

Dean of Education Professor Graeme Aitken says the report highlights and praises the work of the Faculty’s LCN team under director Dr Brian Annan.

“The LCNs are leading change away from top-down models of schooling improvement. We are now seeing how teachers and schools are best placed to learn from each other.

“The hard work of the team has achieved great results in a very short time. As more LCN communities are formed these initial successes will spread – along with the achievement levels of the pupils in participating schools.”

One of the best examples of the success of the LCNs is the cluster of 11 schools in the Manaiakalani Education Trust in Tamaki, Auckland. The decile 1 schools initially formed a trust in 2007 before coming under the LCN programme in 2013.

The programme has enabled pupils to use digital devices so they can learn anytime, anywhere. Parents cover 30 percent of the cost by paying the devices off at $3.50 per week over three years. The majority (85 percent) of parents pay on time.

The LCN programme in Manaiakalani is now looked upon as a model of how to systematically move schools towards using digital technology to engage children and enhance their learning, and is often profiled for its ground-breaking approach to digital learning. The Trust is now working with other networks of schools across the country including the Ako Hiko Education Trust, a cluster of seven schools in Mt Roskill established in February 2014.