The Bays Cluster is made up of the five local schools in our area:
- Heathcote Valley School
- Redcliffs School
- Our Lady Star of the Sea: Sumner
- Sumner School
- Mt Pleasant School
The Bays Cluster was established in 2007 when the five principals of the day saw a great opportunity to combine the staffing expertise and resources across the schools to create opportunities for our students that we would otherwise be unable to provide.
From this starting point the Bays Cluster has gone from strength to strength and is now considered by many to be an excellent example of what can be achieved by schools collaborating together. The importance of this relationship became even clearer following the earthquakes in 2010/11 with the Ministry of Education’s push to develop Learning Cluster Communities (LCC). The transition to this more formal arrangement has been relatively seamless.
The Bays Cluster operates at a range of levels:
The principals meet regularly to discuss a range of topics which have common themes throughout the cluster. The principals have shared our cluster’s success stories to the Canterbury Principals Association, at an International Principal’s Conference and through educational journals. One principal has even completed a sabbatical visit to Asia and the United Kingdom to explore how clusters work in other parts of the world.
This year we are using cluster funding to employ a facilitator to work with our middle leaders on developing a strong network at this level. To help them achieve this they will be carrying out a leadership inquiry into specific aspects of teaching and learning programmes that impact on student achievement.
The teachers and learning support staff have participated in a number of shared professional development opportunities.
Our office staff also meet a couple of times a year to discuss their respective financial and administration roles within the schools.
Using a combination of Kiwisports and Sports Canterbury funding we employ Lawrence Babe as the Bays Cluster Sports Coordinator. Mr Babe works in all five schools during the week and is also responsible for organising a number of opportunities for our students through cluster sporting events and after school competitions.
The Bays Cluster runs many events throughout the year aimed at bringing together our students. These events include:
- Bays Cluster Cultural Festival
- Bays Rock
- Bays Cluster Music Festival
- Bays Cluster Speech Night
- Various sports events
The Boards of Trustees have met on several occasions for combined training and strategic planning sessions. They are committed to ensuring that the cluster continues to succeed in the future.
Over the last couple of years the cluster has provided a number of parent education evenings featuring visiting speakers. Our respective PTAs are in contact with each each other and work together to schedule major school fundraising events and parent evenings.
So what does the future of the Bays Cluster hold?
We are all very excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for our cluster.
Bulk purchasing of resources, employment of specialist teachers, stronger links with our early childhood providers and the continued implementation of innovative learning programmes are all aspects we will to continue to develop going forward.