Irene Cooper, principal of Hillcrest Normal School in Hamilton, talks about using the e-Learning Planning Framework as a basis for their strategic planning.
We’re a school of 600 students and as our roll has grown so have the number of nationalities represented in our school grown. We now have about 25% of Asian students and so they bring a very rich culture to the school. With that in mind, we’ve had to think about how can we best provide a programme of learning for now a hundred funded ESOL students who are very clever students because they already speak one language and they’re learning to speak in another.
At the same time we’ve had a growing awareness of the opportunities provided through e-learning to engage differently with children and the Board have been surveying the community. We have been talking with our teachers and we’ve been introducing new materials into classrooms, new equipment into classrooms and looking at the impact of that equipment and its potential for further impact.
This has resulted this year in a new strategic plan and I guess to get engagement for everybody we took the whole teaching staff to the Learning@School Conference in January in Hamilton. It was an opportunity that has transformed practice in the school very, very quickly.
So we got the e-Learning Planning Framework and that was wonderful because it gave us an opportunity to review where we were at against each part and that was a job that our lead IT team did in Term 1 this year. And from that we realised the strengths that we already knew were, that we were well resourced, that we had very strong technical support but that we didn’t have consistent uptake. We were still thinking of our students well certainly not as cyber citizens. We were onto safety really. So our strategic plan from this year forward incorporates all those elements and we are using, definitely using e-learning as a tool for learning for all children and that’s the orientation for children.
The key areas that we want to work on really, I guess and we’ve set for next year are communication. We’ve broadened out from things like reading and writing to communication because e-learning allows us to explore things differently, assess things differently, learn differently, connect differently.
The Board have approved a new strategic plan and as part of that strategic plan we’re focusing very much on the multicultural aspects of the school - the ability to connect, not only locally but regionally and globally, for learning to develop real partnerships. To access specific programmes that will help targeted groups of students and for our staff to keep building the range of practices within inquiry teaching and learning that will give the students the best that they can have really. I think, a 21st century curriculum, I guess. Is definitely where we’re heading with confidence.