15% households with school aged children without internet access       39% of Aucklanders born overseas       82% of 18 year olds have NCEA Level 2       22% unemployment for 15-24 year olds       94.6% attend pre-school       1 in 4 children in poverty       79% pass NCEA Literacy in Yr 11       76% at or above national reading standards starting high school

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FROM THE CE’S PEN

Susan Warren, CEO

Ngā mihi nui, ngā mihi mahana, ngā mihi aroha. Tēnā kotou katoa. Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Kia orana, Nisa bula vinaka, Taloha ni, Fakalofa lahi atu, Ni hao, Namaste, and warm greetings.

This month has felt a bit like an extreme “good news, bad news” situation. We’ve been relieved and grateful to hear that the proposed dramatic cuts to our funding from Auckland Council have been reversed, thanks in part to the wonderful support from you, our stakeholders.

We’ve also been excited to win a new contract from MBIE supporting a ground-breaking Science in Society project in South Auckland (see below for more details). 

Both these items bring real resources to support our work with you towards a more effective and equitable system; and both show the value that’s being placed on learning and skills by local and central government.  

The month’s “bad news” came from data shared by John Gerritsen at Radio NZ.  John requested the numbers behind the school decile calculations from MOE - numbers that show increasing socio-economic disparities in our society, with multiple implications for children and families, and for the schools and early childhood centres that serve them. 

This data underlines the urgency to ensure that every child, young person and adult has the opportunity to succeed, whatever their economic background. I know you are all as passionate as we are to work towards that goal.

 

Ka kite anō

Susan Warren


 
SCIENCE IN SOCIETY

COMET Auckland, on behalf of the STEM Alliance, is over the moon after being awarded the ‘Science in Society’ contract by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The Alliance is one of three groups around New Zealand to be awarded the MBIE ‘Science in Society’ contract. Providers in Otago and Taranaki will also roll out the initiative.

The project aims to inspire South Auckland young people and communities to engage with science, by supporting local organisations to develop and implement research projects that enable young people and community members to work with scientists on community-based problems and issues.

We will be putting out information on how to participate in this exciting project later this year.

For more information on this initiative, please contact Shirley Johnson, COMET Auckland Skills Manager at shirley.johnson@cometauckland.org.nz


 
NEW SNAPSHOTS: OUT NOW

We are excited to announce that the 2015 Local Board Snapshots are now available online. We want these unique education and skills snapshots that provide local data to help decision making in these communities. For the first time, we have also produced an Auckland-wide and Southern Initiative snapshot to act as a useful companion for the local board data snapshots.

Each snapshot has information collected from a variety of reports, statistics, and the latest census data. Each snapshot brings together information about key characteristics of local board areas, early childhood education enrolments, and how students are achieving at school. 

For access to your region’s Local Board Snapshot please click here. For the best results, please print these snapshots double sided, in colour on A3 paper. Please share these snapshots with your friends and colleagues and start a discussion with your family and communities about this data.


 
WINSTON CHURCHILL FELLOWSHIP: REFLECTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Our Strategic Analyst, Alison Sutton, embarked on a cross-continent trip to learn more about oracy and what’s working overseas. Here is an excerpt of her thought-provoking blog post on her travels, lessons, and what we can do here in Aotearoa to improve oracy for kids:

About 21,500 bright eyed, excitedly nervous five year olds head off each year for their first day at Auckland schools. Healthy, confident ones with support from home and with strong oral language skills and a few pre-literacy skills will do well.

But for many, starting school is hard. Some don’t have the language skills they need because there wasn’t much talking or much reading at home. Others may be new to learning English. Children whose parents have low literacy are much more likely to struggle to learn to read – and it’s learning to read easily and early that is the key to education success later. 

With this on-going intergenerational literacy challenge in mind, I embarked on my month-long Winston Churchill Fellowship. I visited towns where early learning, schools, community groups, employers and local councils are coming together to raise literacy levels. I was lucky enough to visit nine different organisations and programmes in eight towns and cities.

Three key themes stood out for me:

  • Improving reading is being positioned as an important way out of poverty
  • Raising literacy takes more than schools
  • Health is a major driver for improving literacy

To read Alison’s full article on her reflections and recommendations on oracy, head to the COMET Auckland Wordpress blog

If you would like to know more about literacy across Auckland or want to be part of a new collaboration contact Alison at: Alison.Sutton@cometauckland.org.nz or tweet her via @AlisonJSutton


 
TALKING MATTERS: COLLABORATING ON EARLY ORAL LANGUAGE AND SCHOOL READINESS

COMET Auckland is sponsoring a Talking Matters collaboration. Representatives from teacher education, health, early learning, family services, child development researchers, parenting programmes, family literacy and government met in November last year and April this year, forming the Talking Matters network. The network includes more than 30 organisations who have sat together to talk about talking and its importance for kids.

This network is already leading to a more intentional focus on talking in programmes, increased professional development and improved connections between some services.

Being such a natural part of life, it’s hard to imagine that some children start school without enough oral language to get a great start.

Local research and international evidence is growing around the challenge we face. About a third of our children may not have the language skills they need to make a great start on reading. Talking isn’t just important for education, but feedback from employers highlight that young people are often not able to talk on the job.

Two more network meetings are planned for 2015, a work programme is being developed and we are applying for funding to support this collaboration.

To link up to the Talking Matters network, contact Alison.sutton@cometauckland.org.nz


 
PROMOTING LEARNING AND SKILLS THROUGH THE MEDIA

A key part of our role is advocating on issues, opportunities and challenges for education and skills in Auckland. We often engage with the local media to advocate for these issues, as do our many project partners and stakeholders.

Shirley Johnson, COMET Auckland’s Skills Manager, talked to Radio Waatea about the Science in Society contract, which will be a great opportunity to engage communities with science.

COMET Auckland’s Chief Executive, Susan Warren, discussed the impacts that New Zealand’s increasing economic disparities, as revealed in recent school decile data, will have on education – where some children don’t have room to relax, learn and study, and how insecure housing causes disruptions in a child’s learning. Susan also discussed our Auckland Languages Strategy, and how this policy will support language diversity in Auckland.

As the programme owner for Whānau Ara Mua, we were delighted to work with Sunday News, which did a great feature on Ariana Timu, a recent graduate of the family learning course. In the article, Ariana explains how developing her literacy and math skills has improved her confidence in the home, fostering stronger relationships with her children.

Please check out the links below for some of the interviews and articles on important education and skills topics:


 

COMMUNITY NOTICES

Do you have a notice, event or job listing you would like to be featured in our community notices? Please email your information to admin@cometauckland.org.nz and we’ll spread the word.


 
NCER: DRAFT MAORI ADULT LITERACY AND NUMERACY STRATEGY

You have an opportunity to share your thoughts on the National Strategy for Māori Achievement:  Adult Literacy and Numeracy. After the first round of national consultations, the first draft of this strategy has been completed.

The second round of consultations has begun, and you have the opportunity to have your say in Christchurch, Gisborne and Whangarei - or at the national forum in Rotorua on May 28, 2015.

For more information on these consultation hui, and to RSVP, please click here


 
GIVING2KIDS

This collaborative initiative intends to connect businesses, charities and community organisations to further support children and the impacts of poverty.

The Children’s Commission and Philanthropic New Zealand have teamed up to provide online advice and strategies on how to effectively invest in children, and also to provide a foundation for further collaborations between philanthropic organisations.

For further information, and on ways to connect with Giving2Kids, please click here for the Children’s Commission website. 


 
THE BISHOP SELWYN FORUM

This inaugural forum, hosted by the Holy Trinity Cathedral, is being held this year to connect our communities and continue an important discussion around correctional practices in our prisons. This is a great opportunity for development and community cohesion to begin a broader conversation with government.

For more information on this forum, and to register, please click here


 
AKTESOL WINTER SOLSTICE EXPO

Working alongside the Auckland branch of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Aotearoa New Zealand (TESOLANZ), Associate Professor at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Sharon Harvey, will be discussing her work in superdiversity, languages and policy.

This bi-yearly ‘mini symposium’ will also include discussions around languages policy in New Zealand.

For more information on this forum, please click here to access the TESOLANZ website.