Gilberthorpe school

Gilberthorpe school

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Gilberthorpe heads to the big smoke- Manaiakalani visit August 2015

Kia ora koutou

This week I had the pleasure of travelling to Auckland with 4 of our staff to visit the Manaiakalani cluster of schools in Tamaki,  Auckland.
What a rewarding visit!, a visit that has thrown up as many questions as it did answers!
It was a very rewarding couple of days and the time spent with staff was a lot of fun.  The rich discussion that also eventuated was gold!

The purpose of this visit was to familiarise ourselves further with the pedagogy being utilised by schools in the Manaiakalani cluster, we have four of our staff who had not yet visited the schools and it was essential that they all see what is possible.
We visited two schools Point England and also Panmure Bridge and both of these schools can be , and indeed are, very proud of what they are achieving. It was a pleasure listening to students from across 6 or 7 schools sharing some of their learning.  Talking with Dorothy Burt- The Manaiakalani outreach programme leader, Her husband Russell Burt- Principal of Point England school and Richard Johnston- Principal of Panmure bridge school provided fantastic insight into the journey they have all been on.  We were all very grateful for the time they (and several of their staff)  took to chat with us.  I took a huge amount from these discussions.

The cluster is based around the use of a learn, create and share structure that promotes anywhere, anytime learning. The use of technology is essential in supporting this.  Every student from Year 4-8 and 9-13 for that matter has their own device, through a lease to own system.  Students have ultimately replaced pen and paper with Google chromebooks and Ipads. Chromebooks being used in years 4 up and ipads within the junior school( Year 1-3).  The progress being made by students is accelerated and engagement levels are quite frankly, incredible.
Students are proud of their learning, they collaborate with each other both personally and in a digital world.  They can articulate their learning. They are confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners!

Teachers use google sites as a way of sharing learning and planning with the students, the default is that all information is public and planning by staff and activities for students is all visible and available anywhere, anytime by anyone.
There is some much more to learn and our journey on the outreach programme has just begun.

I loved one of Dorothy Burt’s quotes- “access to technology has changed our children’s lives”

Naturally, the next step for us here at Gilberthorpe is to consider what we are seeing, learning about and discovering and discuss how it fits with where we see ourselves heading.  With a rebuild happening, this time next year we will likely be in new environments.

How will these be organised?
Who will teach with who?
How will ensure that learning is personalised?
Which ways will we gather data and use this effectively?
How will we share what we are learning with our community?
How can we design our curriculum so that it is highly engaging, purposeful and is helping prepare our students for a rapidly changing future?
What structures will we put in place to ensure that our use of technology is highly effective?
Do our decisions match our vision for learning?  Does it fit with our pedagogy?

Regardless of what technology is being used or how the environments are set up, one thing most educators would agree on, is that it is the teacher in front of the students that has the greatest effect (Hattie’s research supports this).  We must ensure that staff are well supported through these developments to ensure that what they are delivering to our students in the precious time that we have them is highly effective.  High quality professional learning is essential.  Our vision and our pedagogy drives what we do, let’s keep that at the forefront while we move through this incredibly exciting time!  The best device in the world will amount to little if its use is ineffective and a high quality teacher will get results by teaching in a garage if need be (but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that :-)

Stay tuned for what happens next….

Graph showing the accelerated progress the entire cluster of schools is making in writing.


  1. Wow! You have been most generous with your reflections. It was a pleasure to host you and you team. And serendipitously I was at your place today while you were in Auckland. What delightful young people you serve. I so enjoyed the time I spent in Rimu classroom participating in their Cybersmart lesson and talking with them. You will have such fun planning for your new learning environments. Everyone is ready for the next phase. Keep us posted....


  2. This is fantastic that you have come away from here with so much positivity and eagerness. I cannot wait to hear more from the staff that attended and to see this work at Gilberthorpe.

  3. I agree with Dorothy when she says 'Everyone is ready for the next phase'. The fact that all of us have been to Manaiakalani schools and have heard first hand about how it came to be, why it has been developed and continues to flourish, is putting us in a positive position as we embark on this next phase of our journey.
    It was a pleasure to have Dorothy in Rimu Class and we are learning some great stuff with Mark Maddren working with us. The support will surely enable us to progress competently and confidently in the now and the future.

  4. I absolutely agree with every word you have said Andrew.
    This was a very valuable and rewarding trip. It is amazing the amount of knowledge, ideas and inspiration you get from visiting other schools. It wasn’t just the impressive presentations from both the students and teachers but also the time to walk through classrooms, watch the children in action and asking the children and staff questions. Every child we asked at both schools loved using the devices and agreed it helped their learning at school and at home. I found it fascinating how engaged every child was in every classroom we walked through. The children were not only engaged but focused on the task at hand and every child I asked about their learning were able to tell me what they were doing and why they choose a particular program to carry out that task. The children also gave me a lot of ideas for different app uses and programmes they use to aid their learning. I can’t wait to start using these in my classroom. It is an exciting time ahead at Gilberthorpe School and one journey I am very excited to be apart of.