Sunday, June 06, 2010

Networked Learning Communities for the National Curriculum

The New Zealand Ministry of Education has issued a request for tenders for "An evaluation of the effectiveness of Network Learning Communities to Schools". The NZ is several years ahead of Australia in introducing a national curriculum and is evaluating the process of local consultation used. This is something the Australian Government might do well to emulate. This could make use of online processes concurrently with adding e-Literacy to the National Curriculum.

The Ministry of Education invites proposals for an evaluation of regionally based Network Learning Communities (NLCs) designed to support schools in their implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC).

The NZC, published in November 2007, sets the general direction for learning in English medium schools in New Zealand. Within the framework of the NZC schools are given flexibility to meet their students' needs through the development of a locally designed school curriculum. This involves an ongoing process of review and implementation in collaboration with teachers, students and local communities.

Implementation of the NZC requires a fundamental shift in curriculum planning for most schools, with principles, values and key competencies influencing how learning programmes were to be re-designed to support student learning. In recognition of this change, schools were encouraged and supported to engage with the NZC and begin the process of implementing their school curriculum over 2008 and 2009. The expectation was that by February 2010 all schools would be giving effect to the NZC.

The Ministry of Education provided a range of support to assist schools in the process of engaging with and implementing the NZC. One element of support included the use of NLCs, where groups of school and curriculum leaders were facilitated to explore innovation and share practice within a supportive professional environment.

In 2008 the Ministry of Education provided funding for the setting up of a national network of NLCs, that is, a number of small clusters of school and curriculum leaders from a local district, in each region of the country. The aims of the NLCs were to:

  • to provide initial support for school leaders in coming to understand the school-level changes needed as a result of the NZC, and
  • to offer a network of support for schools as they went about implementing these changes.

Schools were invited to register an interest to participate. Each learning community has been led by an NLC 'sector leader' and supported by an advisor from the regional School Support Services (SSS). In 2009 there were about 150 NLCs nationally and the number has increased to 195 in 2010.

Statement of Requirement

The evaluation will determine to what extent a school leader's participation in an NLC has impacted on the curriculum design and review process in their school, both during 2009 and into 2010. In particular it will investigate:

  • to what extent participation in an NLC has increased a school leader's understanding of the NZC;
  • how and in what ways the NLC has supported the school in designing their local curriculum;
  • how involvement of the leader in an NLC may have influenced the way teaching and learning has changed in the school: and
  • how and in what ways the NLC professional development model may have contributed to cluster success, both in terms of the curriculum work and also more broadly.

The Ministry has developed an intervention logic for the NLC professional development model which may assist proposers shape their evaluation plan. Please email if you would like a copy of this logic. An outline of the 2010 structure and process for NLCs is available at the following link:

Other materials that might inform this evaluation - SSS Milestone reports, wiki posts, Action Plans from individual NLC's, materials shared online etc- will be provided to the successful proposer by the Ministry.

It is expected that this evaluation will include, but not be limited to:

  • gathering evidence about their 2009- 2010 NLCs from each of the regional providers (School Support Services), and appointed leaders of the NLCs (sector leaders) in each region, (perhaps by a survey or questionnaire), and
  • evaluating some 2009- 2010 NLCs nation-wide (perhaps by interview or focus group) with a minimum of ten to be investigated. These NLCs should represent a variety of cross-sector groupings and settings. School visits may also be required, to investigate the impact of NLC involvement in particular schools. The NLC section of the evaluation will be limited to three selected regions, to keep the work manageable and within budget.

An overall report is required that outlines the background of NLCs, summarises the findings from the case studies, and makes informed recommendations to the Ministry. It is also intended that the experience of each of the ten NLCs studied in-depth will be written up as a case study (to be shared on-line with teachers and school leaders).

The Ministry of Education requires that this work be completed within a relatively short time frame of approximately four to five months. It expects the findings to inform decisions about the possible shape of the NLC model for future support. ...

From: "An evaluation of the effectiveness of Network Learning Communities to Schools", RFP, New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2010

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