WelCom May 2019:
Wellington Catholic schools are living the philosophy ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ by joining forces to get the best out of all their students. The 13 primary and secondary schools are part of the newly established Wellington Catholic Schools Kāhui Ako. The group’s principals, teachers and support staff aim to work collectively to raise achievement, wellbeing and the sense of Catholic identity for each of their 3240 primary and secondary students.
Led by principals Bernadette Murfitt, Sacred Heart Cathedral School, Thorndon, and Mary-Angela Tombs, St Teresa’s School, Karori, Kahui Ako met for the first time in April with around 250 principals and teachers at the ‘super staff meeting’.
Mary-Angela Tombs says the schools, which range from a small school with just 55 students through to the largest with 800, are excited about what can be achieved as a collective. ‘We are all focused on getting the best out of our students, so when we pull together and share ideas and resources there are going to be some real success stories.
‘The principals and teachers discussed how schools could work together to enhance student learning opportunities. It was good to see teachers talking across primary and secondary sectors and swapping contact details. Our challenge is to make it easy for them to do this regularly.’
Principals have been working on the collaboration idea for more than two years. Identified long-term learning challenges include early literacy skills and transition from primary into secondary school across the curriculum; as well as critical and creative thinking skills needed to achieve full potential.
Mary-Angela Tombs says, ‘Turning these challenges into learning strengths involves supporting each child’s wellbeing, Catholic identity, cultural strengths and needs, a seamless transition into school and between primary and secondary schools, and empowering individual students to understand and feel confident about their ability to learn.
‘The next step for Kahui Ako will involve all schools surveying students about their learning and wellbeing and a parent-information session with guest speakers from the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience.
Bernadette Murfitt says Kāhui Ako is about empowering the collective and the individual, ‘and continuing to discover ways we can best work together’.