Bright Sparks News
Restructure producing winning results at Rangiora High School- 15 June 2012
Technology is changing and evolving on a daily basis, and it's essential that the education system keeps up. Catherine Johnson of Rangiora High School is spearheading some major changes around the school's technology faculty to ensure students are getting the best possible education.
With her innovative and consultative approach, Catherine has redesigned the whole technology faculty, improved communication between primary and secondary schools, and endeavoured to bridge the gap between what is taught in schools and the reality of the rapidly changing technology sector. The changes are already bearing fruit. “Technological literacy has improved by half a level to a level,” Catherine explains. “That’s in just a year.” This is helping to put Rangiora High School at the forefront of technology education to ensure the school and the students keep pace with the technology industry.
An important element behind redesigning the technology faculty has been creating a new structure to streamline department operations. Within this structure all four technology departments work together under a head of faculty, Catherine, rather than as individual entities. The new structure leaves Catherine free to focus on strategic thinking and leadership while her heads of departments manage day-to-day administration. While still teaching her classes, Catherine is taking advantage of this opportunity to address the issues most needing attention.
To complement these internal strategies, Catherine also saw a need for improved communications between schools. Rangiora High School shared their technological literacy entrance test among local primary teachers, with the aim of coordinating technology education. The response was positive. “Pretty early on, it was, ‘How can we help you, and how can you help us?’” The literacy test has been filtered down through year levels at both Rangiora High School and Rangiora Borough. The teachers from primary through to secondary levels then worked together to establish what is suitable to be taught at each year level.
Rather than create more work for teachers, the approach has resulted in a more streamlined, direct way of teaching technology. Catherine says the new structure has already had a big impact on student literacy levels. “Year 9 should be their ninth year of learning, not their first,” Catherine emphasises. She also believes this initiative will prevent teachers from having to teach students who have wide gaps in understanding and experience.
Catherine is adamant that she could not have made all of these changes alone. She has had the support of a great network of school and industry people, and the school administration has backed her ideas and initiatives from the start. Her message to teachers is to connect with others and collaborate. “The greater power of more people is certainly better than the power of one person.”
With Catherine’s input Rangiora High School has chosen to retain both its ITO trade programmes and a complete technology curriculum, bucking a nationwide trend. This dual model programme offers a range of options for students to explore what trades and technology offer to the modern world.
For any schools looking to replicate Rangiora High School’s achievements, some small but important changes are needed. The majority of what is being done already works well but the right changes can result in huge benefits.
If you are keen to learn more, contact Catherine by emailing Catherine.Johnson@rangiorahigh.school.nz.