2019 Sabbatical

This website will house the thoughts and findings from a 10 week sabbatical that I am undertaking in Term 1, 2019. The title of my sabbatical is 'Rethinking Education'. It is clear that there are a number of reviews underway by the New Zealand Government. These reviews aim to provide a robust critique of our current education system. I would like my sabbatical to build on these reviews, canvas colleagues, compile research and investigate the future of an education system for our young New Zealanders.There will be some clear themes that become points of focus. Themes that are prominent in our education system today - wellbeing (including mental health), equity, cultural awareness and the skills that our young people will need to be successful in the future.These themes will be intertwined with the formation of Kāhui Ako throughout the country. Kāhui Ako are focusing their collaborative development on strategies such as Wellbeing, Cultural Awareness and Equity.

Collating and compiling the research and work that is happening around the country will be another prominent aspect of my sabbatical. I would also use the Kāhui Ako structures to discuss and identify the key skills that are being focused on for the modern learner. These are the critical values and skills our young people will need to be successful in the future. Therefore my sabbatical will provide a summation of the strategies and skills that are being utilised to raise student achievement in our schools and regions. I will form a plan to further promote the development of these focuses collegially, in our school, our Feilding Kāhui Ako and the greater New Zealand education sector.

The purpose of my sabbatical is to research, develop and expand on the strategies that are effecting the achievement of our young people. It is a commonly held belief that focuses on academic studies, such as Writing for instance, have proved futile in raising the achievement of our students. The focus has switched to identifying the underlying causes of underachievement and developing strategies that suitably combat these in order for our young people to achieve success.

As discussed earlier, my sabbatical will be two pronged - focusing on the strategies that directly contribute to wellbeing - cultural awareness, mental health and equity and secondly, identifying the skills and attributes that our young people need to be successful in the future. Defining these strategies has been a crucial element of work completed by Kāhui Ako. Although these are different for every context there are trends that are apparent and it is collating these trends and identifying the outcomes that are of most importance to me.

I would visit Halcyon International School in London to inquire into their programme on the positive development of wellbeing in their learners. This programme develops student advocacy, leadership, cognitive coaching and mentoring. It also has resilience, acceptance and courage as key attributes to be encouraged with their young learners.

In terms of identifying the skills and attributes required for future learners I will be basing my research on Four Dimensional Education - The Competencies Learners Need To Succeed by Charles Fadel, Maya Bialik and Bernie Trilling. Charles Fadel is the founder and chairman of the Centre for Curriculum Redesign. He was also a visiting scholar at Harvard University.

I will also be using my sabbatical time to further develop my leadership skills through a number of professional readings. These will enable me to increase my effectiveness when it comes to supporting colleagues both within my school, and the wider community, to implement change. I will support this development through texts such as Great By Choice by Jim Collins; Start With Why by Simon Sinek and Leaders Eat Last, also by Simon Sinek.

Ben Ward-Smith


Lytton Street School, Feilding

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