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Waitaha School is a semi-rural special day school with approximately 44 students located just south of Christchurch, New Zealand. As a part of the Renewal of Education for Greater Christchurch, the three Special Day Schools were asked by the Minister of Education to engage with their community regarding future provision within Canterbury.

Waitaha School Board of Trustees chose Rob Clarke of Learning Architects as their facilitator for this process, as he has presented himself as being someone who had a current professional background with a knowledge of the area. This process required a range of skills and qualities:

  • excellent time management;
  • excellent technical/computer skills, knowledge and understandings;
  • the ability to collect, analyse and present accurate data;
  • an inclusive and collaborative approach;
  • the ability to liaise in a professional manner with a number of different groups;
  • meeting management skills;
  • a deep understanding of current educational terminology and how to translate this to the public;
  • a professional, ethical approach to tasks.

There was a requirement for the facilitators to work within the MOE framework, and to provide a written report of the findings to the Ministry of Education within the short timeframe. This report was then given to the Minister of Education for her consideration.

This involved the facilitator working with the Board of Trustees, school leadership team, staff, parents, iwi and the wider community on a series of engagement meetings.

These meetings were designed by the facilitator, in order to develop a clear understanding of what the community’s response to the proposal was.

The process Rob undertook involved:

  1. planning within a timeframe;
  2. working within a framework;
  3. gathering data and analysing the findings;
  4. close liaison with other facilitators and Ministry of Education staff;
  5. writing a professional report of the outcomes for the Waitaha Board of Trustees with supporting evidence.
Waitaha Community Engagement

The Board was able to contribute to the report as it was being drafted through the use of Google Apps.

The Waitaha Board of Trustees presented a professional, succinct document to the Ministry of Education, within the timeframe given.

All parties were consulted in a professional and empathetic manner, and felt their opinions were valued and well represented.

In addition, the facilitators met with Ministry officials to provide feedback with a view to improving future engagement processes.

Facilitation of Community Engagement

Waitaha School would have no hesitation in employing Rob Clarke and Learning Architects for any future projects and indeed have done so for a range of further projects.

Contacts: Margaret Dodds, Principal or Therese Phelan, Board Chairperson, Waitaha School, phone 03 344 1243

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