Broulee Public School (Australia), one of those as yet rare cadre of pathfinder schools that have normalised the whole school use of the digital and created a 24/7/365 digital school ecosystem, is playing a central role in a new model of system wide school development that is being implemented by New South Wales (NSW) Department of Education and Communities.
The Department in conjunction with Broulee Public School is implementing a ‘hub and spoke networking model’ to foster the movement of the state schools in the Far South Coast Network of NSW to a digital operational base.
Supported by funding through the Department’s Rural and Remote Blueprint the model recognises the very different position of schools on the digital evolutionary continuum, the importance of each school, primary and secondary, taking charge of its own growth and the amount schools can learn in a very practical way from the experiences of their colleagues in pathfinder schools.
In the same way that teachers network with and learn from their colleagues globally so the idea is that the Network’s schools can learn from the school at the centre of the hub and like the spokes of the bike the ideas will radiate out to others. While the initial moves are being made in the Far South Coast Network the thinking is very much that the model could be used elsewhere in the State, and in particular within the regional areas.
The impetus is being provided by the hub school, Broulee PS conducting an initial conference for departmental schools on Building Digital Schools on August 13/14 2015. The aim is to have the school, its leadership, teachers and community share with their colleagues, primary and secondary, the factors that they have addressed in the school’s digital evolution and what they are now able to do within an ever evolving, constantly transforming digital ecosystem.
The hub school is not saying it has any magic solution, but rather it will share the many lessons learned in the school’s 15 years plus digital evolution journey.
If you are NSW Department of Education and Communities school and would like to attend I’d suggest getting in early as there is only limited places.
Significantly this school – system initiative has emerged out of the NSW Minister of Education’s policy of ‘Local Schools, Local Decisions’ that gives NSW public schools – like others globally – the facility take control of their own future. It is a very good example of how the policy enables school initiatives to be coupled those of the education authority to create greater synergy.
One of the things largely absent from the digital evolution of schooling literature is how best to get all the other schools in an education authority to normalise the use of the digital in the educative process. The traditional top down, one size fits all has no place in a world where schools have the autonomy and indeed responsibility to shape their own growth and where the differences between schools on the digital evolution continuum is widening daily.
The hub and spoke networking model appears to tick all the right boxes and thus it will be interesting to watch how this New South Wales’ approach impacts.