Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako 2017 Survey

Publication Details

This report describes the findings from the second survey of Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako. The survey took place in October 2017 and looked at the extent to which anticipated changes are occurring in Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako (Kāhui Ako). Surveys were sent to all 210 Kāhui Ako. Responses were received from 1,515 people in a variety of roles.

The findings suggested that Kāhui Ako is supporting teachers to work together to build teaching expertise and is successfully building a collaborative culture within and across schools.

Issues with the viability of the new career pathways were identified, with a lack of staff cover for release seen as the greatest barrier to progress in Kāhui Ako. The use of evidence to drive actions also appears to be problematic, principally with sharing and comparing data including the constraints of working with different Student Management Systems (SMS).

Author(s): Education Technologies Ltd. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education.

Date Published: June 2019

Executive Summary

This report describes findings from the second survey of Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako, which took place in October 2017. The survey focused on how effectively Kāhui Ako are developing and the extent to which early implementation outcomes are being achieved. Results provide a national overview of implementation to date from the perspectives of people within Kāhui Ako.

The survey design used the Ministry of Education’s Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako intervention logic. Survey questions were designed to collect information about the extent to which the anticipated on-the-ground changes described by the model are occurring in Kāhui Ako. Several areas of focus were identified to correspond with each anticipated change. Responses were received from 1,515 people in a variety of roles within Kāhui Ako that were established as of 15 August 2017. This included Kāhui Ako in two stages of formation; 118 Kāhui Ako that had been approved but were yet to identify their shared achievement challenges and goals to be able to access resources, and 92 Kāhui Ako that had identified their shared achievement challenges and goals and were fully endorsed. Online questionnaires were used to gather respondents’ perspectives, and questions were repeated to those in different roles in order to gather multiple perspectives.

The extent to which each of the seven anticipated on-the-ground changes is evident in Kāhui Ako is described here, and key themes are identified. Overall, changes around shared responsibility, deliberate collaboration, and building and sharing expertise appear to be well underway. Less change has been made to support children and young people through transitions, or in the partnerships Kāhui Ako have with the wider community. Issues with the viability of the new career pathways were identified, with a lack of staff cover for release seen as the greatest barrier to progress in Kāhui Ako. The use of evidence to drive actions also appears to be problematic, as limited arrangements for working with data have been made.

Shared accountability and collective responsibility

There is evidence that responsibility for children and young people is being shared within Kāhui Ako. In endorsed Kāhui Ako, people took on varying levels of responsibility for children, students, and teachers in other schools and early learning services within their community. Leaders and across schools teachers took the most responsibility, with around 70% indicating they were responsible for those in other schools in 2017. Respondents from approved Kāhui Ako took the least responsibility, with around 20% indicating they were responsible. Almost everybody felt responsible for those in their own school, with at least 80% of people in both approved and endorsed Kāhui Ako indicating they took responsibility for student achievement and teacher practice in their own school, kura, or early learning centre in 2017.

In general, people within Kāhui Ako share an understanding of the main purposes of their community, and believe that understandings of the achievement challenges faced are shared amongst those they work with.

Eighty-seven percent of schools in endorsed Kāhui Ako have a formal structure in place to report to boards of trustees, and this most commonly involves direct reporting from principals. Seventy-three percent of schools in endorsed Kāhui Ako also have a stewardship group operating, and members of these groups are largely boards of trustees representatives and teachers. However, the role of the group is not always well understood by all members.

Deliberate collaboration

Deliberate collaboration is occurring in endorsed Kāhui Ako. Kāhui Ako leaders and across schools teachers are most involved in collaborative work and regularly work with people in a number of other roles across the community. For example, the majority of Kāhui Ako leaders actively worked with other principals, board chairs, across and within school teachers, and regular classroom teachers to improve teaching and learning, working with many of these groups weekly. Board chairs are least involved in collaborative work, working solely with the principal from their own school. Teachers in within school roles and school principals predominantly work with other people in their own school. People in a variety of roles indicated that they worked weekly with classroom teachers from their own school: the Kāhui Ako leader, school principals, and both across and within school teachers. Generally, people feel their work with others within the Kāhui Ako is effective.

Meetings and administration, professional development, deliberate inquiry into practice, and strategic planning were common focuses of the collaborative work of across and within school teachers, with around 80% indicating they had been involved in these activities.

Over 80% of across and within school teachers were positive about the levels of relational trust among teachers, indicating that classroom teachers and across and within school teachers had confidence in each other’s expertise. Principals were less positive, with around 60% indicating that teachers had confidence in each other’s expertise.

Building and sharing expertise

People within endorsed Kāhui Ako are building and sharing teaching and leadership expertise. Work to improve teaching practice was widespread. At least 60% of leaders, principals, and across and within school teachers indicated their work within the Kāhui Ako had focused on identifying effective teaching approaches, leading professional development and sharing research on these approaches, and leading inquiry to improve teaching and learning. Fewer people in Kāhui Ako roles, around 25-50%, indicated they had been involved in modelling effective teaching practice, and observing the practice of others to provide feedback. The work of across and within school teachers focused on several areas. The largest area of focus was culturally responsive practice; with around 70% of across schools teachers and 50% of within schools teachers indicating this had been a focus of their work in 2017. Over 60% of people in Kāhui Ako roles were positive about work undertaken to improve teaching and learning.

Forty to seventy percent of Kāhui Ako leaders, principals, and across and within school teachers were involved in work to improve the leadership of teaching and learning. This work included professional development focused on effective leadership, coaching, mentoring across and within school teachers, and sharing research on effective ways to improve leadership. Over 60% of people in Kāhui Ako roles were positive about the work that had been undertaken to strengthen skills to lead the improvement of teaching and learning.

New career pathways

Over 80% of people in Kāhui Ako roles thought that these positions provided valid career path opportunities, and were viewed as reasonably desirable. However, up to 50% of respondents saw a lack of staff cover for release as threatening the viability of the new career pathway.

Around 80% of principals and board chairs feel that people with sufficient skills and expertise have been appointed to the roles of Kāhui Ako leader, across schools teacher, and within school teacher. The most common challenges experienced when making these appointments were a lack of clarity about how to best use the roles, employing staff to cover teacher release, and insufficient applicants. Around 30-60% of schools experienced these challenges.

Evidence drives actions

Quality data and robust processes for working with data are needed if evidence is to successfully drive actions. While 76% of endorsed Kāhui Ako have agreed which sources of student achievement data they will use and 54% have agreed when this data will be collected, up to 86% have not yet made detailed plans for working with student achievement data. These include who will have access to Kāhui Ako-wide data files, where these files will be stored, and the privacy protocols that will be put in place.

National Standards/Ngā Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori and NCEA and scholarship results were the most frequently utilised sources of student achievement data, used by 80-90% of both approved and endorsed Kāhui Ako. Standardised assessments were also used by 60-70% of Kāhui Ako, with up to 50% of Kāhui Ako using teacher judgements from either the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) or the Learning Progression Frameworks. The majority of endorsed Kāhui Ako encountered a number of substantial issues when using student achievement data in 2017. Most notably, all endorsed Kāhui Ako noted different Student Management Systems (SMS) being used by different member schools/kura as an issue. In addition, 90% of endorsed Kāhui Ako encountered issues due to member schools using different assessment tools to measure student achievement, and 88% encountered issues of data comparability across schools because of differences in the way assessments were carried out.

A variety of other evidence sources were used, in addition to student achievement data. Sixty to seventy percent of approved Kāhui Ako used evidence about student wellbeing, information about the cultural identity of students and whānau, and measures of attendance and engagement to identify their achievement challenges. Over 80% of endorsed Kāhui Ako used feedback from staff and students, and measures of staff and student wellbeing to monitor the effectiveness of their approach.

All teachers in across and within school roles report using some kind of data for teacher inquiry in 2017. Over 80% report using student achievement data and students’ feedback, while over 70% report using students’ work samples. Around 80% of across and within school teachers indicated that teachers were willing to share, and confident to use, data for inquiry.

In endorsed Kāhui Ako, around 80% of leaders and across schools teachers were positive about member schools’ expertise to gather valid and reliable data, store and retrieve data efficiently, and analyse data. In contrast, around 45% were confident in the reliability of Kāhui Ako data, and the privacy and security of the data management systems that are in place. People in both endorsed and approved Kāhui Ako were more positive about members’ willingness to share data, than their willingness to trust the data provided by others.

Better support through transitions

There was some evidence of on-the-ground change to support children and young people through transitions. Over 80% of Kāhui Ako leaders and principals and Early Childhood Education (ECE) representatives were positive about the relationships with the schools or early learning services that their students and children come from, and the schools their students move to. They were less confident about their relationships with the tertiary providers and employers their students move to, with around 70% indicating they had effective relationships with tertiary providers, and around 60% indicating they had effective relationships with employers.

Around 80% of Kāhui Ako leaders and principals and ECE representatives were confident that they were sharing both useful progress and achievement information, and useful needs and wellbeing information with the schools their students and children move to. In contrast, around 60% were confident about the usefulness of the information they received.

Around 90% of endorsed Kāhui Ako provide specific support for learners at-risk of a poor transition. Around 70% of leaders also indicated that teachers in across and within school roles work with teachers across all sectors, and that leavers’ destination data is used to track and review where learners go post-secondary.

Productive partnerships

Evidence of partnerships with the wider community was limited. While up to 80% of endorsed Kāhui Ako have been partnering with others outside the community to improve teaching and learning, this work is most frequently with external experts. A minority of endorsed Kāhui Ako, 25-50%, have been regularly working with parents, families and whānau, iwi/hapū/marae, or the local community. Around 90% of endorsed Kāhui Ako had at least one explicit strategy in place to promote the success of Māori and Pasifika students. The most common strategy focused on raising teachers’ expectations of student achievement.

Support, barriers and enablers

Kāhui Ako found a number of Ministry of Education supports useful. Regional Ministry staff, and expert partners were the most useful, noted by around 70-80% of endorsed Kāhui Ako and 50-60% of approved Kāhui Ako. Cross sector forums and centrally funded PLD appear to have been useful to endorsed Kāhui Ako in particular, noted by 50-60%. The most useful Ministry of Education tool for Kāhui Ako was the Learning Progression Frameworks, noted by around 60% of endorsed Kāhui Ako and 50% of approved Kāhui Ako. Fifty to sixty percent of endorsed Kāhui Ako also found the Community of Learning development map and the Education Counts website useful.

Respondents were generally positive. The most common enablers to progress in Kāhui Ako included a focus on relationships. Around 60% of respondents indicated relationship factors such as leadership collaboration, and trust and communication between members as enabling progress in their Kāhui Ako. Issues related to staffing are seen as the greatest barriers to progress, with up to 40% of respondents indicating staffing issues have been a barrier to progress in their Kāhui Ako.

ECE work and perspectives

ECE personnel were generally involved in collaborative work with each other, while school personnel also primarily worked with each other. For example, 70-90% of school principals indicated they worked with people in other school roles within the Kāhui Ako, while around 30% indicated they worked with ECE personnel.

ECE perspectives on the barriers and enablers of progress in Kāhui Ako differed to those of school principals. Factors viewed as more enabling by ECE representatives than by school principals involved working with others, such as parents, families, whānau and the local community. Factors viewed as more of a barrier to progress by ECE representatives included a focus on relationships between members of the Kāhui Ako, and involved trust, leadership collaboration, and communication.

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