In response to the Tomorrow’s Schools Review taskforce report, the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand (FLANZ) advocates for national, sustainable improvement in learner experiences in what, how, where and when they study.

The association supports the proposed Education Hubs, which would work collaboratively with their network of schools to ensure schools and communities can work together to lead the change where it matters – for every child, in every school, regardless of where that child lives.

It also supports the establishment of a National Leadership Centre and a specific national hub for kaupapa Māori education settings co-designed and established with iwi Māori.

However, FLANZ further advocates for national guidance for learning, teaching and support approaches that enhance flexibility of time and place; of subject matter (courses); and mode of delivery.

“In summary I feel the education hubs will need national strategies that are informed by expert practice – in flexible learning, as well as flexible pathways – to embed flexibility in the sector,” says Ralph Springett, of FLANZ. “This appears to be missing from the Tomorrow’s Schools proposal.”

Their submission goes into more detail.

“Distance and flexible education drivers are the principles of equity and ubiquity enabled through flexibility of the time, place and pace of learning.  It is of great benefit to all learners to be able to access their learning at a place of their choice (which may be the local school) and at a time free from constrained school schedules, timetabling or resourcing,” reads their submission.

“The provision and implementation of equitable, cohesive flexible teaching and learning will require national leadership to coordinate the development of distance components (digital systems and learning resources) to augment mainstream provision; to expand the virtual learning network; to enhance and share the expertise and resources of te Kura, to develop good practice in modern learning and teaching; and to agree on the digital data footprint that will best enable flexible pathways that are accessible, relevant and meaningful for all  learners/akonga.”

The Association points out that Hub Teaching and Learning units will need national coordination and guidance to ensure cohesive developments progress and align with the overall direction of the Tomorrow’s Schools vision of twenty first century learning and teaching.

FLANZ supports the national coordination of integrated approaches to the use of online learning and flexible transitions across the sector’s providers, including working closely with Leadership advisers in Coordinating Flexible learning Advisory Services in the Education Hubs, and supporting Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – The Corresepondence School (Te Kura) to integrate their resources and delivery within and across traditional school provision.

It also supports the development of a nationally cohesive flexible learning pedagogy and implementation strategy that is inclusive of those in isolated and rural areas, in Alternative Education, Teen Parent Units and other underserved groups.

FLANZ draws attention to the “valuable work” done through the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) and Te Kura and the constraints that currently restrict access to this expertise and resourcing across all sectors of education.

“There is scope and opportunity to adjust policy settings necessary to bring together VLNs, Hubs and Te Kura to develop, enhance, and sustain a future focussed educational provision for all learners/ākonga and to better meet the needs of diverse and underserved populations,” reads the submission.

“A nationally supported cohesive approach to flexible teaching and learning is essential in supporting seamless movement across the three major transition points of the compulsory sector, and in stabilising the fragmented entry and exits of our most vulnerable learners/ākonga.”

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