Sunday, 6 June 2021

Building connections and strengthening links

Recently Auckland Normal Intermediate School hosted a teacher only day for some schools in our ACCoS Community. There were five schools involved. These were Auckland Normal Intermediate School, Cornwall Park District School. Maungawhau School, Epsom Normal Primary School and Newmarket School.

The day was coordinated by the deputy principals in the schools. In total approximately 160 teachers attended. There were 16 Sessions offered over two time timeframes and these were created by our In School and Across School Leaders.

The day began with coffee and registration by 8.30am. Then Jill Farquharson introduced the day and together with attending school principals, set the scene for the day.

First up our plenary speaker was Tim O’Connor, Headteacher of Auckland Grammar School and one of his Associate headmasters Sam MacNaughton.

Tim spoke about Building Connections and Strengthening LInks. He shared a little about the school’s 150 year history. He spoke passionately about the importance of resiliency and connections to Mental health.

Some takeaways from his session included the importance of having:

  • a values based environment. 
  • Starting everyday with a school wide assembly

The School Assembly

  • Philosophy hooks into well being
  • Come together as a school and provide opportunities for children to come together. This provides well being support. 
  • Humour, existed have fun because the structure

Student Support

Link head and heart service.

Normilises the idea that speaking to a councillor is a good idea.

There is a greater display of resilience.

Rainbow ticked organisation

Provided an opportunity for boys to have conversations around gender identity 

Courageous conversations.

MIOMO - Making it on my own by Yvonne Godfrey

Growing good teenagers which provides young people with advice and guidance in these years

Harmful Impact of Pornography by Maree Crab

Many young men had ready access to pornography and the school needed to front it and address the dangers/harm of this. Run a programme with the Year 10’s every year for the past few - discussing how this could impact relationships.

This comes back to the transparency we operate on.

Character Education Programmes

Whakapapa - who am I?

Turangawaewae - where do I belong/fit in?

Whanaungatanga - how do I serve or how do I contribute?

This builds upon the acceptance of who we are and the tools to converse with those who don’t accept it.

This program is layered with a health education that occurs throughout all of the year levels.

EOTC in Ohakune

This occurs via Hillary for the Year 10’s, among other year levels.

Teaching Framework

Put together a framework using deliberate decisions based on feedback.

Sheer distraction of social media.

  • 5 hours less time so no mobile devices are allowed in school.
  • Vaping is also harmful and seductive.
    • Vape detectors into bathrooms

Lesson Objectives are really clear

The boys are clear on: What do I have to do?

After the opening speaker the teachers were given the opportunity to have morning tea and make connections with others from other schools.

Then we moved into our break out sessions hosted by our ISL and ASL break out sessions. 

Finally we convened back to the library to collect our pre ordered lunch and used the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and share some of our learnings.

Overall the day was successful. The teachers from within  our schools had the chance to see ACCoS in  action

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Resilience Masterclass Christchurch

Some of the Hauora initiative attended the “Resilience Master class” course in Christchurch run by the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience earlier this term. 

There were many key ideas and gems that came out of the event, plenty that validated our current work and it was a great opportunity to network with other professionals who are passionate about the Hauora space. 

The one day course included opportunities to hear from resilience gurus, researchers and staff from corporate organisations such as Beca and Aurecon. It’s not often that educators attend courses that include professionals from a range of occupations and it was refreshing to hear that all places of work are making conscious efforts and changes to better enhance the wellbeing of their staff and clients. 

The main message of the day was of course resilience. Lucy Hone and Denise Quinlan did an excellent job recapping some of their key research and findings. 

We then heard from several professionals who were involved in wellbeing initiatives in their workplaces. They shared the experiences they had creating a culture that made employees feel valued, supported and motivated at work. One unique approach used by Aurecon was mental health first aid. Members of their workplace were trained in mental health first aid to better notice and respond to staff struggling with mental health at work. Those in the workplace knew who were trained so they could check in if they needed to. I thought that provided workspaces with both physical first aid training and mental health training seemed to be a big step forward for viewing mental health as important as physical. 

What all these corporations had in common was the importance of taking time in the working day to establish an agreed set of values, goals and actions that will support their employees. 

Each section of the day was filled with valuable insight that we intend to take forward into our communities. We would thoroughly recommend anyone, no matter your profession, to have a look through the New Zealand Institute of wellbeing and resilience’s website, where they offer ample training and resources for individuals, groups, education and corporate.  

We are looking forward to spreading some of this mahi back to the Hauora initiative to celebrate the work our schools are doing and to help support their pathway moving forward. If anyone is interested in hearing more about what we gained then please get in touch, we would love to connect with you.

Friday, 21 May 2021

ACCoS Provisionally Registered Teachers afternoon.

 Welcome to Teaching in the ACCoS Kāhui Ako .  

On Thursday afternoon, 20th of May, 25 Provisionally Certified Teachers, along with other staff from across the ACCoS Kāhui Ako came together to make connections and be encouraged and inspired as teachers, as they start their journey in this important and rewarding profession. 

The lead principal, Jill Farquharson, welcomed teachers and outlined what the Kāhui Ako is and how it connects across the schools of all the teachers present.

Colin Dale spoke of the privilege and challenges of teaching. His stories covering many aspects of his experiences as as a teacher and principal, even a precious one from today. These inspired us to think about how we view learning, teaching and wellbeing and the ways we interact with the families and students in our communities. 

His anecdotes about meeting students whom he taught in the past reinforced the impact that each teacher have on those we teach and gave us much to look forward to. 

We hope that this opportunity to meet teachers from other schools is the first step in making connections across the schools and the education sectors within the ACCoS community. These connections will lead to further interactions, visits and the sharing of learning that will support PCT’s in their teaching journey. 

Thank you ANI for hosting this event and to Colin for the love of the profession, inspiration and laughter that you shared with us all. 

We look forward to the next event.

Monday, 22 March 2021

First ASL meet 2021


Last week all of our Across School Leaders got together for the first time in 2021. Responding to the current climate, we had the option to attend the meeting physically or online. The ASL meeting provided the opportunity to meet and discuss how work was getting off the ground across the initiatives and also take some time to delve into the Leadership framework and reflect on what we had been reading and applying.

There was lots of content covered throughout the day and also time to check in with each other and build connections with newer members of the group. 

Overall 3 main ideas/topics stood out as we drew the meeting to a close. 

Firstly, Covid was on top of everyone’s radar because of Auckland school’s experiencing 2 lockdowns before week six of term one.The session was to reflect on how our roles change and adapt and so do all the roles within a school. Jill reminded us that responses will vary across all of our schools and this highlighted the importance of spending time at the beginning of the year to understand the context of each of the schools we are working in. Opening up understandings will impact the way that we approach initiative meetings and whole ACCoS events. Making things accessible remotely will mean that we remain connected. 

Secondly, we spent time discussing how to have conversations that bring problems from below the line to above the line. Focusing on moving forward when faced with a challenge and to focus on strengths and what will help us improve rather than ruminating on the problem. Alison guided our coaching session and we explored the types of questions that might be useful for making this move above the line.

Lastly, a term that stood out was ‘adaptable leadership’. Understanding that there is not a one size fits all approach to leadership. We had a big focus on leadership with Madeline and after working through examples of practice we discussed ways in which we could be flexible, drawing on different leadership styles as we work with different individuals in different contexts. 

A great start to 2021 that had us thinking about how our roles and leadership styles will adapt to suit the current climate and contexts of all schools in the ACCoS for the year ahead. 


Tuesday, 22 December 2020

ASL share with ACCoS principals 2020

Blog Post 2020 Reflection

On Thursday 3 December, all the Across School Leaders shared with the ACCoS principals their year's review. This year we created a collaboration book digitally using Book Creator with hyperlinks to the year's work. As a group we agreed on criteria and number of pages per initiative. Using Book Creator allowed us to approach this year's reflection from a multimodal lens so some video was embedded in the pages.Each ASL decided on what to include and added photos to help tell the journey visually.

Our Across School Role enables us to work alongside In School Leaders within our 12 schools and Early Childhood Centres. Our work connects us across schools, to learn with and from each other and to share what we do. The In School Leaders work within their schools and help drive professional learning. Ultimately our ACCoS work impacts the learning within our schools. This year our work was impacted by the global epidemic and opportunities for learning evolved as we embraced new ways of working.

Across School Leaders 2020

Cavanagh, A., Goh, A., Lawrence, A., Murphy ‎, L., Nicholls, A.,

Osbaldiston, A., Parkinson, S., Spencer, S., Tomich, F., Van Schaijik, S.

Click here for :End of year reflection from ACCoS ASL 2020


Lead ASL: Lisa Murphy Sue Spencer

Initiative: Mahi tahi me te Ākonga 

Focus: Supporting the learner through differentiated programmes and cross department inquiries breaking down silos of learning. 


It has been 5 years since we started the Mahi Tahi initiative at Epsom Girls. The time frame (5 years a cycle for embedding change), Lockdowns and the 2019 PPTA/Government accord have contributed to some interesting shifts this year.

Covid 19 Lockdowns emphasised the differences between individual learners in some new and interesting ways. In some cases we realised how engaged quiet learners were, or realised how much some learners need their peers at school to learn. This brought us back to our original initiative focus at Epsom Girls -  on knowing our learners and working with our individual learners. Finding ways to get to know the learning needs of individual learners is a priority in a secondary teaching environment, where teachers see so many different learners for short periods of time.

Lockdowns made digital upskilling and working with learners in a digital environment a priority, with the school setting this as a collective appraisal goal for all teachers in 2020. This allowed the In School Leaders and teachers more freedom to focus on sharing best practice once back in their PLGs.

Changes to appraisal alongside lockdowns, meant that there was less emphasis on each teacher completing an individual inquiry in 2020. This left more freedom for PLGs to develop collaborative inquiries, and for teachers to focus more on how we can work with every learner in our classrooms, using the variety of tools and strategies at our disposal. Each PLG kept a particular collaborative inquiry focus, but there was a sense of more connectedness across the PLG inquiries in relation to learning from lockdown and ‘knowing and working with our learners’ (student centered learning).

In 2021 we are planning to develop leadership practices more with the ISL team. We gathered feedback from the ISLs and are in the process of choosing readings and strategies to work with.

Sue: I’ll talk about a couple of the 13 PLGs that operated within Epsom Girls this year, to indicate how the initiative is evolving.

Firstly Blended Learning. This is not just flipped learning but also includes elements of face to face teaching. During lockdown of course this was not possible, but the other digital elements were all in place and so the teachers were able to quickly implement plans for the learning to continue. Next year the PLG will move into gamification as an engagement and motivation tool, possible tools being Classcraft and Minecraft.

Secondly ILE (innovative learning environments); this PLG was formed to provide a forum for teachers using the school’s new ILE space. The learning was that innovative learning can happen anywhere not just in a particular type of space (although an ILE does help) so next year the PLG will be moving towards focussing on innovative pedagogies (such as team teaching) instead.

FInally thanks to Tric and Lorraine for supporting the initiative, and particularly Tric for the stimulating discussions we had throughout the year at our weekly meetings.


Lead ASL: Sonya Van Schaijik and Ajita Goh

Initiative: Flexible Grouping

Sonya Van Schaijik

Focus: Enhancing the pedagogical approach of flexible grouping so teachers can apply it in any learning area and learning becomes a collective endeavour where children are not limited by perceptions of ability that can pervade ability grouping. 

Thanks for the opportunity of Working with the 12 IN School Leaders from ANI, PDS, NPS, MPS, CPDS. RPS. Thanks to those principals too for joining us this year. Thanks to Ajita who took on her new ASL role this year and willingly carried out our first across schools trial. We acknowledge the work of Virginia Kung who has helped shape and guide this Initiative and mentored   us.

Also Alison with Coaching and reminding us of our goals.

We are extremely proud of the work that our ISL did especially during Lockdown times. We appreciate the ‘have a go’ attitude and the trialing of new ways of teaching including agreeing to meet digitally just before lockdown. 

The 2021 focus will continue on enhancing the pedagogical approach of flexible grouping so teachers can apply it in any learning area and learning becomes a collective endeavor where children are not limited by perceptions of ability that can pervade ability grouping.

2021 will include schools working across digitally so that students and teachers will have a different perception of grouping.

We believe it is important to continue focusing with across school's initiative and identify tools that enable teachers and students to work collaboratively that do not always require face to face experiences.

What would we do better next time? .- reflection.

*Continue with blended learning in school so that if lockdown happens again, the transition will be seamless.. 

2021 will see Ajita taking over this initiative and what better person to do this then someone who has been working alongside me and has been willing to learn and share her expertise.

Ajita Goh

Two highlights: across-school connection between Maungawhau School and Remuera Primary School and Maungawhau Unconference Day

Across-school connection:

Maungawhau School and Remuera Primary School established an across-school connection this year. These two schools have been working closely together in the flexible grouping initiative as they are both at very similar stages of the flexible grouping journey, and so it was natural for several classes within each school to connect with one another. Due to COVID-19, the connection between the classes at the two schools was entirely digital - Google Slideshows with Flipgrid videos and mathematical rich tasks, and Zoom Meetings, and although this connection was then halted after the second lockdown, it was a great start for the schools to begin connecting online.

Next year, these two schools would like to continue this connection, and the other schools involved in the flexible grouping initiative would be encouraged to pair up and begin building across school connections. 

Maungawhau School Unconference:

Due to COVID-19, Maungawhau School adapted their appraisal process for teachers this year. We held an Unconference at our school on the last teacher only day, where teachers worked individually or collaboratively to present and facilitate a discussion related to flexible grouping in Maths. This was followed by a Gala day, where the remaining teachers prepared rich tasks for small groups of staff to solve. Both events were successful. The outcomes were more valuable and meaningful than the traditional appraiser, appraisee, teaching as inquiry appraisal process.


Lead ASL: Alaric Nicholls 

Initiative: Visible Learning

Focus: Shifting the locus of control from what teachers are teaching to what learners are learning, and enabling learners to understand their learning goals. 

This was a brand new initiative for 2020, and it became apparent early on that there was a range of interpretations as to what “visible learning” meant in each of the 4 schools involved. It was tricky to find a clear alignment in the strategic plans of these schools too, so the call was made to treat this initiative as a PLG where we focussed on sharing the work each school was undertaking, supporting the ISLs to build networks, and develop their leadership capabilities. 

All ISLs in this initiative were new to the role, so some time was devoted to working with them on reading and analysing their schools strategic plans, so they were able to locate themselves and their work within these. I believe that this contextualises the ACCOS work, and ensures that it is not seen as an add on extra, rather a way of driving the schools strategic direction. 

So what worked?


  • Between the ISLs within each school.
  • For schools that had SLT members working alongside the ISLs in the initiative they seems to work very effectively together - this was particularly evident at Epsom Normal and this structure of a DP+ISL pairing seemed to work well.
  • Suzanne and I also worked well together as ASLs, each bringing something different to the table and I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you Suzanne for being a valuable sounding board and reality checker for me this year. 


  • When the work of the initiative was well aligned with the strategic direction of the school, it was well received by teachers 
  • When the VL initiative also aligned with other initiatives that school was involved in, it added a real  element of coherence. A great example of this was Meadowbank where this initiative and those working in the wellbeing initiative all but amalgamated, adopting common goals and building a common language that was used across the school. 


  • Time was more of a constraint than ever this year, however those ISLs who were given time in front of their fellow teachers, be that at a whole staff meeting, a teacher only day, in PLGs or teams, noted the significance of having that time and its impact on their ability to lead change.. 


  • At Victoria Avenue school the ISLs ran a “spark” event which challenged teachers in a number of ways, and gave them the permission to try something different - this was indeed a highlight of their work this year.


  • With a clear focus on constructing, testing, and sharing collective knowledge building experiences, the ISLs at RI had clear purpose and outcomes. The resources they built, trialed and modified over the course of the year were adopted over most of the school to the credit of the ISLs involved.


  • In each of the 4 schools involved in this initiative, the ISLs naturally sought to influence other teachers’ practice. Given that each and every one of them was new to the role this year, that is actually a real success and is worthy of mention.

I would like to conclude with saying a big thank you to all of you with whom I have worked over the better part of the last 4 years. ISLs, ASLs, APs, DPs , Champions and Principals - each and every one of you have contributed to my many learnings in the realms of educational leadership - for which I have now developed a distinct passion. I very much hope to work with you again in a different capacity in the not too distant future. 


Lead ASL: Felicia Tomich and Alix Osbaldiston

Initiative: Multilingual Language Learners

Focus: how to manage each schools increase in ESOL numbers and enable teachers to provide effective learning programmes that support these students in language acquisition. 

Highlights this year: The development of the multilingual learners toolkit (Fe)

  • Inspiring use of visuals (Alix)
  1. Resource that has been collated
  2. Useful for teachers, a picture tells a thousand words
  • Focus on building multilingual learning environments (Fe)
  1. Staff meeting sharing best practice
  2. Cultural ambassadors
  3. assemblies
  • Teacher orientation and updating of enrolment information. (Alix)
  1. Teachers are armed with more information to enable them to support students. 
  2. Step by step guide for supporting ESOL students in their transition into school

Direction of Focus for Next Year

  • Ensuring language learning aligns with all learning, and filters through everything we do (Fe)
  • Cross pollination and sharing across schools (Alix)
  • Integration of kids speak ELLPs into every day classroom practice (Alix, Fe)


Lead ASL: Suzanne Parkinson and Abby Cavanagh

Initiative: Learning Progression Framework

Focus: Collective support for teachers in how to use the LPF’s to support formative assessment and evaluate progress with learners. This included unpacking what it looked like as learners progress through their maths, reading and writing knowledge and skills in a range of meaningful contexts.

The Learning Progressions Framework Initiative was a new initiative in 2020 

- I’m Suzanne from PDS and 

I’m Abby from ANI and we co-lead the initiative. 

Our initiative worked with the 4 schools - and 7 ISL’s  involved to build consistency around teaching and learning pathways. 

We  began the year by looking into each school’s strategic plan and pulled out the common themes amongst the schools. We used this as the basis to work alongside the ISLs to build connections between their school charter, action plans and PLG’s.  This developed into making connections and working collaboratively with ISL’s in schools in other similar initiatives within the CoL; Flexible grouping and Visible learning.. 

At each meeting we utilised a coaching technique as part of the initiative meetings and provided resources and opportunities to discuss these techniques: (EARS and Solution Focused Coaching)  to support ISLs in their work within their PLGs and roles in their schools.

One significant take away from the work done over this disruptive year is the value of having a collective understanding of learning pathways to support planning and assessment for learning. 

The teachers found that the learning pathways provided richer data and a deeper understanding of student learning and progress. This in turn supported  the OTJ’s made by teachers  in a more holistic  manner than one-off exemplars and standardised assessments. 

Thank you to Richard George, our champion and to Alaric and Phil from Visible learning who have worked with us as we looked into ‘where to next’. 

Looking ahead to 2021, the official name of the initiative has changed to ‘Progressional Thinking’. 

This initiative will have a strong focus on the use of progressional thinking to support formative assessment, targeted planning, and teaching along with developing connections between schools in our CoL that are using similar tools.  

Working with other ACCoC initiatives, that are focusing on pedagogies that support this initiative  ie.Flexible Grouping and ELL Multilingual Learners, and making connections between the ISL’s with-in the schools will connect the learning and strengthen practice. 

Lead ASL: Andy Lawrence, Alix and Ajita Goh

Initiative: Wellbeing

Focus: Supporting good mental health in the workplace and the development of strategies that promote wellbeing across the school for students and staff. 

Just to briefly reacquaint ourselves, I am Andy, this is Alix and Ajita, and we’re very excited to share about the work that we’ve been involved with this year. Given the year we’ve had, which we’re sure you’re very familiar with, had placed us in an incredibly unique position being able to further develop our work from last year while highlighting the relevance of the initiative and support schools not only in our the initiative but in our wider community also. Particularly with things like He Ara Hauora and the Urgent Response Fund, and the various resource banks that were shared at the peak of lockdown. Today, we wanted to identify three key aspects of the year that were especially enjoyable and beneficial. 

For myself, the highlight was the solutions focus coaching framework that we were introduced to at the beginning of the year by Alison. This quickly found its way into our way of operating, particularly with restrictions around the amount of people who could gather. This model provided us a quick but thorough means of developing our ISL’s professionally. It’s also been well received by the ISL’s. All in all, it’s a new tool in our repertoire which has addressed what we felt was a gap last year. We’re excited to continue using this in future.

(Alix) Sharing of resources:

In light of COVID-19, the He Ara Hauora resource was developed, with Fe Tomich leading, and was shared throughout many schools to provide a range of resources and tips to help support students well-being when they returned to school in such a difficult year. In spite of less face-to-face interactions, there has been an abundance of sharing of resources and things taking place within schools. Feedback from participating schools was that it was a great resource that they could cherry-pick from and cater specifically for individual students and class needs, without the expectation of it being ‘another thing to do’. Additionally this has positively generated more connections and sharing between our community of schools and from discussions with ASL’s and ISL’s, there are plans to continue this into 2021.

(Ajita) Student Coaching:

Three of the four schools involved in the Wellbeing initiative (Kohia, ANI and Maungawhau) attended the Students Coaching Students programme with Nicky Knight from Growth Coaching New Zealand in term 1. 

Each school then selected target students as coaches or coachees, and some schools invited other students to apply to be coaches. Despite the two lockdowns this year, all schools involved have finished the six training modules. The schools gathered data and anecdotal evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of this programme, and teachers, students and parents have commented how the programme has benefitted their students, in particular the target students. Students themselves have reported that the student coaching programme has helped them develop their listening skills, empathy, problem solving skills, questioning skills and goal-setting skills. 

ANI and Maungawhau School also established across school connections between the students as Andy brought some year 7 and 8 student coaches from Auckland Normal Intermediate School to model coaching to our year 5 and 6 coaches at Maungawhau School.

Although Meadowbank School was not involved in the student coaching programme this year, the ASLs have also met with the ISLs at Meadowbank School to share how each school is running the students coaching students programme, and they have decided that they could be teaching their children some of the skills our coaches are learning through the coaching programme.

Overall, student coaching has been valuable for all the students involved, and will continue at our schools in 2021.