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Susana Tomaz co-ordinator of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) programme at Westlake Girls School and MOE Across School Lead for the local Community of Learning
Susana is a passionate about leading transformative change in education that puts the learner right at the centre.
Susana coordinates the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) programme at Westlake Girls School and is an Across School Lead (ASL) for the local Community of Learning, Te Kāhui Ako o Pupuke which encompasses 18 ECEs and 9 schools and just over 7500 learners across ECE, Primary, Intermediate and Secondary schooling in the North Shore, Auckland. Kāhui Ako or Communities of Learning have been set up by the Ministry of Education New Zealand to allow the development and implementation of strategic leadership across the schools in the community to support learners’ transition through their learning journey from ECE to Tertiary Education.
Susana has been working with a team of teachers to redesign the curriculum in STEAM and support coherent pathways from ECE to Secondary, and more recently in aligning these to our New Zealand Curriculum Refresh, currently underway, to ensure that it is inclusive, and it reflects our bicultural society, values and perspectives while preparing the generation of tomorrow to enter the workforce.
Children that enter education this year will be young adults by 2035 and ready to enter the workforce. What children learn in early childhood education today, will shape their aspirations and contributions to society. Nevertheless, we live in a time where the future is uncertain, with complex challenges such as climate change, artificial intelligence and advanced digitalisation accelerated by a global pandemic. Education is key in preparing tomorrow’s generation to lead positive change in this fast-changing world which is no longer confined to schools and classrooms.
Educators are given the responsibility of preparing our students for jobs that have not yet been created, for technologies that have not yet been invented, to solve problems that have not yet been anticipated. However, the connection between education and employment is completely disjoined as most schools continue to teach subjects in silos focused in academic knowledge lacking links to the real world application that develops 21 century competencies such as problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration.
Education is no longer about knowledge, it’s also about skills, values and attitudes which interconnect and interact to produce competencies (or capabilities) in action. The OECD Learning Compass 2030 recognises the intrinsic value of learning by elaborating a wide range and types of learning within a broad structure, and acknowledges that learning does not only happen in school. It requires cultivating learner agency, and exposure of learners to authentic meaningful learning contexts and experiences in and beyond the classroom.
“ It takes a village to raise a child. “
’ Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini’
Education for the future is an interactive and collaborative co-design process involving multiple stakeholders. And at the same time, it requires a massive shift in reframing the roles of teachers, as facilitators of learning, and strengthening their digital competencies so education can keep up with the accelerated digitalisation of the world.
The whole community: teachers, whānau, businesses, tech industry and policymakers; plays an important role in preparing tomorrow generation. As employer’s organisations are becoming increasingly clear about the kind of skills and competencies they want their future workforce to leave school with, I feel it is important to forge connections between school and the world of work and create opportunities for our leaners to develop these skills and competencies. There are some great case studies showcasing education to employment partnerships here.
We have a fantastic opportunity for collaborative co-design in our country right now, through the New Zealand Curriculum refresh. However, in the context of the digital transformation happening in Education, accelerated by a global pandemic, upskilling teachers in the use of digital tools is as important as introducing tech advancements into education. However, with a teaching workforce working beyond capacity tasked with the design of both the NZ curriculum refresh and NCEA changes, on top of workload pressures, we risk the implementation of the curriculum refresh missing the boat, when it comes to preparing New Zealanders for the future ahead. For the co-design process to be successful, we need to adopt an ecosystem approach with high level of strategic and collective leadership across the community. Prioritising the building and nurturing of positive and collaborative partnerships with different stakeholders, including learners, parents, industry and policymakers. This is an intrinsic part of the NZC refresh which enables the creation of learning experiences that recognise the importance of creativity and innovation to solve real-world problems, giving students a sense of purpose and engagement and therefore, preparing them to successfully enter the workforce.
My main goals this year and beyond are to support:
1) Foster partnerships with community stakeholders, as an Across School Leader for our Kāhui Ako, that will support our schools with the developing a future proof roadmap, aligned to the NZC refresh, of competencies for learning, teaching and leading in the digital age, while promoting an inclusive environment where one’s culturally diverse background is recognised as a strength.
2) Develop a sustainable framework to support teachers with building on their digital competencies without overloading them further.
3) Drive the integration of STEAM pedagogy for ALL, that cultivates learner agency through authentic meaningful learning experiences, in and beyond the classroom. Resulting more students aspiring to a career in STEAM and lead positive change in the world.