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Mallard Speech: Extending High Standards

Trevor Mallard Speech: Extending High Standards Across Schools Initiative Launch

Welcome to the launch of Extending High Standards Across Schools.

I’m delighted to be launching this new $30 million initiative and the communications resources to go with it. Its purpose is very simple – to raise standards and extend effective teaching and learning in every New Zealand school.

Extending High Standards enables schools that are successfully raising the educational standards of their students to combine with other schools to take the next step up.

Research shows us that effective teachers and effective teaching practice makes the biggest difference to student outcomes. This project recognises that.

Extending High Standards will also be integral to our new schooling strategy – our five-year plan of action, which sees teachers, the education sector, government and communities working effectively together in the best interest of every student in this country.

Many New Zealand schools are doing fantastic things that are making a significant difference to their students’ learning. Our challenge is to enable schools to work together so they can learn from each other for the benefit of their students. By doing this we can steadily improve the whole schooling system and not just pockets of it.

Traditionally, our emphasis has been on helping out less effective schools rather than supporting the more effective ones. This new initiative enables schools to work together to further develop their collective performance by drawing on existing areas of high performance.

Our new approach is consistent with overseas research, which tells us that sharing resources and insights is a powerful catalyst for improving teaching and learning in all schools.

Extending High Standards builds on a host of other excellent initiatives that are already underway. Our work with at-risk students, developing gifted and talented students and information communications technology (ICT) professional development clusters are good examples of this work.

Through this initiative state and state integrated schools will be eligible for up to $200,000 every year for four years. The amount funded will vary according to the scope of the work proposed and the number of schools involved.

Part of the process involves identifying an initiating school. Such schools will show both a strong sense of strategy delivering improved student outcomes and a record of working with other schools.

At a subsequent stage in the process, after initiating schools have been identified, there will be an opportunity for a wider group of schools to join up with initiating schools in order to form a plan of action to take the learning of their students to the next level. I expect that both initiating schools and partner schools will be able to contribute to the success of these projects.

We do not want collaboration for its own sake, but collaboration focused on effective practice. This will ensure that collective numbers of students benefit from the collective capacity in our schools.

I want every New Zealand school to become a champion of excellence. This government is making the investment required to ensure this happens.

Government is investing an extra $5 million in 2006, increasing to an additional $10 million by 2008 for this initiative. In all, we will be investing nearly $30 million over just four years to develop strong professional communities where teachers discuss, debate and share their insights on quality education. This development will enable teachers to use their strategic capability to enhance professional practice.

We need a school system where every child, regardless of their background, is motivated to be the best they can be. Promoting excellence in schools is crucial to achieving this.

Extending High Standards will result in improved student outcomes. Teachers will benefit from professional learning communities and partnerships between schools, communities, researchers and the Ministry of Education will be strengthened.

Promoting excellence is not about a one-size-fits-all model. It is about encouraging innovation and effective practice – valuing the insights and experience teachers have built up over many years that are making a real difference in the classroom. It is about exploring different approaches in different regions, schools and communities so every student can benefit.

We all know each student has unique learning needs. What works well in one community may not be appropriate in another. That is why participating schools will have the flexibility to decide how to best use their funds to develop and promote the project’s aims. Across the school sector the project will promote the development of a core capability among teachers to assess situations and develop strategies that lead to improved student outcomes.

The funds will enable staff to participate in activities over and above a school’s core operations. Funds may be used for leadership development, relationship-building and cluster facilitation, additional staffing, teacher release time, staff professional development and monitoring and evaluation. We expect projects to include a research component. The Ministry has prepared an information pack for schools to help them decide how they might be involved. Further information is available on the Ministry’s website [at].

The annual application process is designed to be simple, fair and transparent. Schools that miss out on initial selection will get feedback on their proposal so they can reapply in future years. Nominations for the first group of schools are due by 30 September this year and Extending High Standards Across Schools will begin in 2006.

I want to thank the reference group of school sector representatives for providing very helpful feedback on the best ways to implement this important initiative.

One of the great things about my job is visiting schools and meeting committed and effective teachers who are an inspiration to their students. Seeing highly motivated learners of all ages and backgrounds succeeding is very inspiring.

This is why we need to take our best ideas to the next level. This new initiative is not about picking winners and losers. It is about finding what works well so that every learner benefits.

It is about putting collaboration ahead of competition. Collaboration creates the right environment for sharing great ideas and best practice about what is making the biggest difference in student learning.

I am confident Extending High Standards represents a very significant step forward in improving student achievement.

We have a great schooling system in New Zealand and international studies confirm our students are doing well compared to others in similar countries. What we want to do is create an even better system where every student achieves to their full potential.

I urge all schools to make the most of this opportunity to further improve New Zealand’s education system.

Extending High Standards Across Schools gives significant numbers of New Zealand schools and educators the time and resources to work together to take their strategies to the next level.

These new partnerships, based on practical experience and innovation, will help us achieve consistently high standards of teaching and learning in our schools.

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