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Innovative Partnership Brings Immediate Benefits



An innovative partnering agreement between a cluster of eight schools in Porirua (known as the ICAN** cluster) and Opus International Consultants, New Zealand's leading infrastructure consultant, is bringing immediate benefits.

The partnership agreement, signed officially yesterday, sees Opus providing practical assistance to the cluster schools in a range of areas from property management, tendering and procurement advice, through to student mentoring and classroom activity.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard, present at the signing ceremony, congratulated the schools for taking up the challenge to help themselves and work together. He also thanked Opus for the support it was giving to the project in the form of advice, guidance and services.

Opus has been involved with the ICAN cluster since May 1999, working actively to develop the partnering relationship.

Ashley Blair, Principal of Cannons Creek School and Chairman of the ICAN cluster explains. "Two years ago a group of local principals realised that by collaborating and co-operating we could really improve pupil achievement in contrast to the previous model of fierce competition which Tomorrow's Schools had forced us into. We now have a sixteen-page plan to improve pupil achievement that will soon be part of a strategic plan."

Mr Blair explains that Opus is already assisting the ICAN cluster to carry out these plans in various ways. "There is a property hotline that schools can use for unbiased property advice from Opus' specialist property consultants. Elsewhere Opus is mentoring us in the process of tendering for ten year Property Maintenance Plans for each of the eight cluster schools," he explains.

He want on to say that Opus employees are helping at a personal level too by working in their own time to support Porirua College students in the school homework centre with help and advice in science, chemistry, maths and accounting.

And it is already having an impact says Mr Blair. "Last week Opus draughting staff and architects worked with pupils from the eight schools to develop their ideas for an ICAN logo. The next day over half of a class involved in the session said they wanted to be an architect," he says.

Opus Chief Executive, John Rutledge says that the `can-do' attitude shown by the Boards and the Principals of the eight schools in the ICAN cluster, the active involvement of Opus staff as mentors, and the special encouragement by teachers will contribute significantly to the objective of improving educational and learning outcomes for children in Porirua East.

Ashley Blair sums up the impact of the innovative partnership between ICAN and Opus. "There is an enthusiasm, excitement and optimism within the cluster as we see the benefits that Opus can bring to our eight member schools, at an operational and educational level."




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