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The Mapp Report - 9 June 2006

The Mapp Report

09 June 2006

The Future of North Shore Schools: The IT Revolution

In the last two weeks I have been visiting North Shore primary, intermediate and secondary schools.

There are challenges facing each school but also an emerging teaching revolution built around IT.

North Shore has always been fortunate with the exceptional quality of the schools, particularly the teachers and the level of community support.

Innovative teachers are building an educational revolution. Computers have been in our schools for at least a decade – but the level and sophistication of IT is now enabling a dramatically new teaching approach, where the students have access to global knowledge and the teacher is the facilitator and guide for the students.

The community has had to provide the bulk of resources. If a school such as Murray’s Bay Intermediate School wants to ensure virtually every student has a computer (650 computers for 900 students) this can only come from the community. Ministry of Education funding does not stretch that far.

Of course one computer per student changes teaching – it is no longer a teacher, whiteboard and all the students listening attentively and taking notes. This is a big experiment and other schools are looking closely to see how it works out.

One of the highlights was the production by Hauraki School, “The Wizard of Oz”. It was truly superb for children aged eight to 11. There is no doubt that a greater level of interactive teaching over the last 15 years is leading to much more confident and articulate students.

It is increasingly evident in our sportspeople. We now expect our leading sportspeople to be confident in the public arena – the somewhat tongue tied New Zealander is a person of the past!

North Shore schools are typically decile ten schools. That actually means they get less money than decile one schools in poorer communities. This is a particular problem for primary schools where there is limited opportunity for overseas full fee-paying students. It means most primary schools still have a lot of prefabs, which are pretty hard to replace. The Ministry regards that prefabs are as good as permanent rooms. Of course this is a ridiculous proposition. Students and teachers should not have to put up with 20-year-old prefabs. This is a policy that must be changed so that schools can have the quality of buildings that the community and the school expect.

Rangitoto College had its fiftieth commemoration. Each of the principals has made an enormous contribution to the school. My colleague, Allan Peachey, was noted as having embarked upon a building programme that eliminated virtually all prefabs. Rangitoto is New Zealand’s largest secondary school – but it is absolutely one of the best; a real credit to the teachers, the students and the community.

Dr Wayne Mapp


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