Communities of Learning
Communities of learning encourage schools, early childhood services. and potentially tertiary education organisations to collaborate on projects that will improve pathways and outcomes for learners.
The Education (Update) Amendment Bill (the Bill) proposes improvements to governance arrangements to support the growth of collaborative projects. Using any of the new proposals will be voluntary.
If a number of communities of learning wish to have more joined-up governance arrangements, the Bill proposes to make the constitution of a combined board more efficient through the ability to require an alternative constitution if four or more school boards of trustees (boards) choose to combine. The proposal allows the board to have a workable number of members and not be too big. The Minister of Education (the Minister) will consult with the boards concerned on the alternative constitution.
The Bill also proposes to expand the current power for a board to do work for other boards so that it includes work for other educational services in its community of learning or social services where those services would benefit the institutions or the students in the community of learning. This would allow, for instance, a board to offer back office services to an early childhood service that was part of its community of learning.
The Bill allows for a statutory agreement to cover the activities of a community of learning. This is not the current Memorandum of Agreement. A more formal arrangement is provided for that includes the Secretary of Education (the Secretary) and may be more suitable, for example, when members of a community of learning are contributing resources to a collaborative project. The statutory agreement would require:
- a Gazette notice that identifies the members of the community of learning
- an agreement with the Secretary that sets out what the group is to do
- planning and reporting requirements that are submitted to the Secretary.
When will these changes take effect?
The Bill is expected to come into force in 2017. Communities of Learning (CoL) will be able to make use of the changes straightaway. They are all voluntary.
Will our existing CoL agreements need to be turned into statutory agreements with the Secretary?
No. Existing agreements between members of a CoL are untouched. CoL can continue to have agreements between themselves.
Why might schools in a CoL want a combined board?
As schools in a CoL work more collaboratively together, they may see that more benefits would be gained by having shared governance.
When would a board do work for other members of CoL or for a social services agency that would benefit its students?
Boards can already do work for other boards but this would allow a board to carry out work for the other members of a CoL such as early childhood services. A board might agree to provide accounting services for the members of a CoL, including early childhood services. It might employ a social worker to work with the children and young people in the early childhood, schools and tertiary institutions that are members of the CoL.
When would a CoL use a statutory agreement?
A CoL might consider a statutory agreement when the members are undertaking a joint project that requires each of them to contribute some of their own resources. A statutory agreement would provide a formal mechanism to record the contribution and responsibilities of each member and the Secretary.
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