13 April 2024

Understanding collaborative planning for learning

The purpose of the guide

This guide provides strategies on how tumuaki and kaiako can build genuine learning-focussed partnerships with ākonga and whānau

Three areas of collaborative planning are addressed in the guide. Each area is interconnected to the other and each requires multiple voices to guide the inclusive design.

1. Learning environment or classroom planning

The first area to be considered is the design of our learning environments or classrooms, where:

    • parent and whānau knowledge is trusted and influences the design
    • sensitivity to learner differences influences design decisions 
    • ākonga develop the skills and agency to advocate for and personalise their learning 
    • supports and scaffolds for learning are built into the learning activities at the outset and available to all akonga
    • feedback on effectiveness is regularly gathered and acted on.

2. Individual or group plans

The second area considers how to make a collaborative plan for a student or group of students who may need specific support or adjustments.

3. Cluster-wide planning

Finally, a cluster-wide approach to identifying and coordinating support, resources and expertise is explored.

Who is this guide for?

The audience for this guide is all kaiako across the sector, from early years to senior secondary.

Kaiako with a wider responsibility for leading and supporting equity and inclusion, such as school leaders, SENCO, RTLB, or Learning Support Coordinators, have a significant role in supporting effective collaboration from classroom to cluster by:

  • ensuring all voices (both tangata whenua and tangata tiriti) are heard and have influence
  • building reciprocal, learning-centred relationships between students, whānau, community, and kaiako
  • modelling the effective approaches outlined in this guide in their own practice
  • facilitating an inquiry approach to identifying needs and planning supports
  • facilitating professional learning conversations and opportunities focused on effective collaboration, equity, and inclusion.

This guide brings together examples of successful approaches to effective partnership that can be used as a resource for inclusion specialists.

Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Video hosted on Vimeo

Janelle Riki-Waaka speaks about seeing your school through the eyes of Māori parents.

Mana-enhancing, culturally informed, learning-focused partnerships between learners, whānau, and kaiako have a significant influence on the wellbeing and learning of ākonga.

Here in Aotearoa, Te Tiriti o Waitangi guides this partnership.

  • Kaiako cherish Māori tamariki and their whānau and appreciate their unique place as tangata whenua. They are welcomed as active participants in an inclusive, culturally responsive curriculum and their identity, language, and culture are understood and valued in ways that can be seen, heard, and felt by all members of the community.
  • Kaiako understand that Te Tiriti o Waitangi provides the foundation for a partnership that is inclusive of all children and their families as tangata tiriti. Home languages and cultures are valued, and kaiako seek to support the partnership in culturally inclusive ways.
  • Kaiako recognise that unconscious cultural biases can get in the way of respectful, reciprocal relationships and undertake to critically evaluate their values, beliefs, and partnership practices (Berryman, Lawrence, & Lamont 2018).

This guide aims to support kaiako is this approach to partnership and collaboration.

Adapted from He Māpuna te Tamaiti and Poutama Pounamu.

Effective collaboration approaches

In education, as we design learning, we work in partnership with parents, whānau, and communities and support agency for learners. Together we take responsibility for ensuring learning is designed in ways that work for everyone and is responsive to individual preferences and differences.

Four Māori concepts “collectively provide the foundation for an approach to education that is culturally responsive and challenges educationally limiting deficit theorising” (Education Review Office 2016 p.13):

  • Manaakitanga
  • Whanaungatanga
  • Mahi tahi
  • Ako.

Designing for effective collaboration

Effective collaboration isn’t easy and doesn't happen by accident. 

For collaboration between kaiako, whānau, and community to have a positive impact, teaching teams must:

  • understand which approaches have the most impact
  • prioritise and support those approaches.

The most effective approaches: 

  • promote reciprocal, learning-centred relationships between students, whānau, community, and kaiako
  • recognise, respect, and value the diverse identities, languages, and cultures of the school community 
  • draw on community knowledge
  • make connections to students’ lives outside the school 
  • facilitate joint interventions that are designed to help parents or other community members support student learning and wellbeing while also engaging teachers in professional learning and development.

Source: Education Review Office (2016 p.26)

Learning Support Delivery Model

Access and participation for every learner is an integral part of any education system. To ensure every child can access and participate, we need a model of support that is equitable, timely, and inclusive.

The Learning Support Delivery Model (LSDM) organises the provision of support for ākonga wellbeing and learning across the early learning and schooling sector. Effective collaboration is a fundamental feature of the LSDM. This guide aims to support kura and kaiako to implement it.

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Overview of the four features of the Learning Support Delivery Model.

Source: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

The Learning Support Delivery Model brings early learning services, kōhanga reo, schools, and kura together to respond to the learning needs of all ākonga and their whānau.

Each community will plan how they meet and work together and will establish any decision-making protocols.

Together they will:

  • decide the information to be shared to create a full picture of the needs of children, young people, and groups of learners across their community
  • agree how to share and store that information safely 
  • establish a learning support register or an equivalent resource for this purpose
  • identify all the resources, skills, and knowledge available in their community 
  • liaise with their local Ministry learning-support facilitator who will connect them to wider agencies and services and broker supports.

Roles that will support this model include: 

  • SENCO based in schools
  • Learning Support Coordinators based in the learning community
  • Learning Support Facilitators based at Ministry regional offices. 

These roles will assist learning communities and the Ministry to collaborate so they can speed up access to support and services.

Read more about:

Te Tūāpapa

Te Tūāpapa is an integrated way of planning supports for learning. It underpins this guide.

At each tier, approaches and supports are designed collaboratively and co-designed with both ākonga and whānau.

Te Tūāpapa works as a whole, not as three discrete levels that are implemented separately. This means you won’t jump to just tailored approaches without also planning and implementing useful universal and targeted approaches. This is a more meaningful and inclusive way of planning for all.

For example, a child who has a tailored plan for their learning will also be supported by:

  • essential (universal) practices and approaches that are part of the everyday activities and routines of the setting (for example, visual timetables, access ramps, a range of technology, non-binary language)
  • specific (targeted) approaches to support a specific context (for example, use of a weighted ball in P.E. or Dragon speaking software to enable access to writing).

Throughout this guide, you will find examples that illustrate all three layers of Te Tūāpapa.

He Pikorua is a practice framework for Ministry and RTLB learning support practitioners. He Pikorua brings together a set of practice principles and shared language. It aims to support flexible collaboration between specialists in learning-support roles as they work in partnership with educators, tamariki and whānau from early learning services and kura and each other.

He Pikorua is included here as it gives an insight into the wider vision for collaboration with a focus on equity and inclusion to guide those working with kaiako and kura. This will be particularly useful for teachers, such as LSCs and SENCOs, who often take liaison roles.

He Pikorua framework guides the work of RTLBs and Ministry specialist colleagues, it is may also inform and support the mahi of all kaiako.

Next steps

Return to the guide “Collaborative planning for learning”