Developing a Vision for Learning

By Diana Wilkes

This article captures a fascinating Q & A with Scott Point Establishment Principal, Pam King. Scott Point is a new school which opened to ākonga in February 2021.

Experienced principal Pam King is the foundation principal for Scott Point School in Hobsonville. Pam understands well the need to create a strong foundation of shared understanding and vision for the new community to flourish. We caught up with her and her leadership team Adam and Sarah, to find out more about the processes they utilised to establish a vision for learning at Scott Point School.

1. Establishing a new school in a newly developing community must be an exciting challenge. Can you tell us a little about the Scott Point community and environment where the school is being established?

Scott Point is a newly developing suburb in the North West of Auckland. It is located close to Scott Point beach with the neighbouring beach and school being Hobsonville Point. As all the families are new to the area, the school is the focal point of the establishing community. The location has influenced our vision and strategic direction, where navigation, Mātariki and our values play an important role.

2. What steps did the Establishment Board take to help drive this visioning process and what was your role in this journey?

Ākonga equipped to navigate their own journey’ – was the starting point of the visioning process. Once the Board had developed this vision they made it quite clear they wanted the Principal and Senior Leadership team and in time the rest of the foundation staff to develop this further, knowing that they would be the people who would have to live and breathe it every day. From there came the school logo, vision, mission statement, and moral compass. Everything that we do at our school is influenced by our compasses that outline how our school, our learners, our curriculum, our learning models, our inquiry process and our ‘Getwise’ programme operate.

3. What information has the Board and Leadership team drawn on to inform the vision for learning for Scott Point Primary and how did you access this information? Pathways? Connections? People?

Face-to-face community consultation influenced how the school would operate and meet the needs of this newly developed community. Our families loved the flexible learning space environment, however, they were wanting a structured approach to teaching and learning that facilitated self-regulated learners, in a scaffolded way. Progressions of learning were developed as well as progressions of our learner profile, using our moral compass framework.

4. Was the local community involved in sharing their aspirations for their ākonga? How? In what ways?

During community consultation, anything that we had developed was shared with the families and feedback then informed our future direction.

5. What challenges did you face and how were they overcome?

Starting as a senior leadership team working virtually as a result of lockdown restrictions was difficult to start building relationships and a culture of trust. Fortunately, we had already had some time together before our start date to collaborate, which assisted us to move ahead with an understanding of how we wanted to work as a team and how we wanted to develop a culture of true collaborative practice and pedagogy. Further lockdowns reduced the number of visits to new schools, however, those that we did visit were honest in sharing their journey of what worked and what did not.

6. In developing an authentic, localised curriculum, schools are looking to understand their local history, connect with mana whenua (local iwi) and community groups. To what extent have you been able to localise your vision for learning, curriculum and pedagogy?

All our local curriculum has been informed by the surrounding environment, the history and local iwi groups. Our four main focussed inquiries for our first year of learning have included; What’s the Point?, Let’s Get Wise, We are all in this together and It’s bigger than me.

  • What’s the Point – this was looking at our local area, the history and the future.
  • Let’s Get Wise – focussed on sustainability and ensuring our school is doing everything that we can to be environmentally aware.
  • We are all in this together – focussed on disabilities and abilities and how we can be an inclusive school with particular acknowledgement and understanding of our blind and low vision learners that will be joining us in 2022.
  • It’s bigger than me – Originally this theme was based around paying it forward, however, due to lockdown restrictions it developed into more ‘Thriving in a Covid environment.’

7. Bringing the vision to life relies on all staff and students having a clear understanding of what this looks like in practice-in pedagogical, curricula decisions and the day-to-day operational choices employed by the school. How are you bringing the vision to life with staff and students so there is ownership of the vision and it is realised in action?

Our culture of care is influenced by our Moral Compass and our philosophy for teaching and learning. Our professional growth cycle follows the inquiry process that we use for the learner inquiries.

8. What key advice would you offer a new school embarking on this journey of developing a vision for learning?

Every school starts with a story and once you find that story it seems to happen from there and the journey becomes exciting. It is important to provide a framework for others who join the team at a later date to build on what is already in place rather than starting from scratch or repeating the process over and over. Once you decide on the culture of collaboration you want to develop for the school then it has to be lived every day.

We extend our warm thanks to Pam and the team at Scott Point. We look forward to revisiting Scott Point School again in 2022 to learn more about their journey in establishing a place where-

“Ākonga (are) equipped to navigate their own journey”.

Learn more about Scott Point here: 

By: Carolyn Marino