Failing to focus on those in need creates disadvantage that impacts all of a school’s learners – something Edmonton School Principal Margaret Samson knows all too well.
Despite sitting at decile four, the Te Atatu school for years one to six has a significant segment of its community suffering from high levels of deprivation, which presents unique challenges to the leadership team.
The challenge of supporting those in need
Margaret faced many challenges in her daily life as Principal at Edmonton School. The socio-economic realities for a large number of families – and the severity of this disadvantage – meant her strategic planning needed to be broad in scope, yet able to cater to some of the most specific of cases.
With Springboard Trust and the Strategic Leadership for Principals Programme, she was able to build such a plan to help the school achieve its goals.
The project: Leadership for a diverse generation
With support from Springboard Trust staff and volunteers, Edmonton School has worked through several projects and programmes since 2015 to develop, implement and embed its strategic plan. This included:
Balanced scorecard project: Identifying the links between stakeholder outcomes, learner perspectives, teaching and learning practice, capability and resources.
Educational achievement for target groups: Using data and subsequent insights to plan specific learning programmes for particular learners.
Priority learners profiling project: Developing holistic profiles of individuals requiring support and engaging them positively in learning. (You can read more about that here.)
Community as a classroom: Developing specific interventions for students with high needs, so they can access learning resources and materials in the wider community.
High performing leadership teams: A structured development programme to build capability and capacity in the entire Edmonton leadership team.
Annual planning programme: A structured development programme to support the school in developing common language around its strategy, how to review it and how to create a plan for the future.
The outcomes: Learning and visibility
Since undertaking the SLPP and taking on Alumni Services support, Margaret has seen immense change – both within the school and herself.
“I am speaking with confidence. I am sharing my vision, and I am taking more risks. I am visible, and I am learning.”
She also believes the combination of initiatives she took on with Springboard have helped her build knowledge in her leadership team and wider teaching staff. This has supported them in understanding leadership, management, change skills and practices. People know their roles, how they tie into a wider strategic plan and have developed the key tenets of distributed leadership.
You can see the results in the strategic and annual plans, which are constantly under review and always evolving. There is a mounting body of evidence to demonstrate that these interventions have improved outcomes for all children at Edmonton – but especially those who were the focus of targeted learning.
By clearly identifying the issues facing disadvantaged learners, Edmonton School was able to lift the entire student body – the ethos of a team only being as fast as its slowest member writ large.