We are a decile 6 school with just over 50% of the school that are not Pakeha. We have a large Tongan and Filipino community within our school. We have families from a range of different backgrounds, different socioeconomic groups and a range of values. We have a very varied community. We also have a lot of children come and leave us which changes the needs within the school. We have meetings with our different cultures and do a lot of consultation to ensure everything is working for everyone. We are transparent and an open environment which helps different people to communicate with us in different ways. These trends we are seeing in our school are similar to other schools of the same socioeconomic spread as us in our area. Through our COL we are able to address some of the issues that come from this wide range of backgrounds and work together to support our community.
We are a Catholic school so this is the core of our school and we want our children to ‘Reach for the stars as lifelong learners in the Catholic faith’. We foster this through weaving the key special character of our school through everything we do and modelling how Jesus would act in all of our lives. However a lot of our community are not actually Catholic and we are currently in the process of cutting down of non-preference children to return our school to the Catholic culture that we want to be central to the school. We have noticed from this decline in Catholic families our school's culture has been changing and we have been noticing some behaviour differences and a different feel to the school. We want parents to bring their children to our school for the special character not just because ‘Catholic schools are good schools’.
We are a high performing school and like to be very up to date with the latest pedagogy, this makes it a forward thinking professional environment. We have had large changes in staff which has changed our professional environment over time. This has been hard to keep the school culture the same through these changes. From this high performing status and always being reflective it can put pressure on staff and people are often stressed due to high expectations and high workload, especially when big changes are made to how we do things as a school. Senior leadership are understanding of this and extra release can be asked for when needed, also timelines for achieving certain things are flexible to allow time for those who need it. We are also very collaborative and communicate well which helps us to all get through times of change.
Looking at Stoll’s (1998) 10 influencing cultural norms of school improvement I feel like we do shared goals, continuous improvement, lifelong learning, support, celebration and humour well. I think because of our change in staff some of the norms take longer to develop and I feel like we are definitely working on responsibility for success, collegiality, risk taking, mutual respect and openness.
After watching Mark Wilson’s talk (2013) his three key aspects of vision, unity and empowerment for creating a culture of success are definitely a part of our school's culture and as we work towards keeping staff and developing our culture I definitely think all three would be very evident in our school.
Stoll. (1998). School Culture. School Improvement Network’s Bulletin 9. Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Understanding-school-cultures/School-CultureTEdEd(2013, Jun 21). Building a culture of success- Mark Wilson. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_8Bjz-OCD8