Edutour #1 Where we are going...and why

One of the most exciting things about being on this establishment senior leadership team is the opportunities we have to travel and to visit key schools in person. In April this year, we are lucky enough to be traveling to Providence, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver to explore Big Picture Learning and the Canadian Self-Directed Schools movement.

The aim of our first tour is to visit schools that exemplify one or more of our values and have succeeded at a delivering an education that genuinely goes beyond the four walls of the classroom, that stretches and challenges our notion of powerful partnerships and demonstrates how genuine self-directed learning can be realised.

Big Picture Learning - The Met School

Our first stop is Providence, Rhode Island to visit the founding Big Picture School, Dennis Littky's Met School. The Big Picture schools describe there mission as:

"Big Picture Learning’s mission is to lead vital changes in education, both in the United States and internationally, by generating and sustaining innovative, personalized schools that work in tandem with the real world of the greater community. We believe that in order to sustain successful schools where authentic and relevant learning takes place, we must continually innovate techniques and test learning tools to make our schools better and more rigorous. Lastly, we believe that in order to create and influence the schools of the future, we must use the lessons learned through our practice and research to give us added leverage to impact changes in public policy"

Much of what WE hope to achieve can be heard here in Dennis Littky's TEDxNYED talk:

CCSDL - Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning

The second group of schools we are visiting are all part of the Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Schools, including Westmount, Mary Ward (Toronto), Bishop Carroll School (Calgary) and Thomas Haney (Vancouver).

The objectives of the CCSDL are outlined as:

"The purpose of the organization is to promote within, and externally, an understanding of each member school’s program and culture, and foster a knowledge of self-directed learning. Using the strength of our varied geographic locations, our educational experiences, and the uniqueness of our member schools program’s we will disseminate information and promote self-directed learning.

Through a collaborative approach to professional development, member schools are encouraged to undertake joint projects, which will allow us to learn from each other. This supportive approach will assist members to address common concerns and seek solutions which will be of benefit.

Members of the organization will enhance self-directed learning through periodic review of the founding principles, research, current and best practices and utilize the skills of the membership to enhance the model.

Member schools will serve as a resource to those groups who are interested in learning about self-directed instruction and will, where applicable, assist schools wishing to undertake self-paced, self-directed learning."


The video below introduces Bishop Carroll High School and introduces how they, whilst not being a typical Modern Learning Environment, use self-directed learning and learning advisors to engage students and support their learning.

Over the course of our travels (7-21 April) I will be posting up regular reflections and posts about each school, sharing what we have seen and learned as well as attempting to process how this may support and/or challenge what we have planned for Hobsonville Point Secondary School.


  1. The opportunity is fantastic. Last year I travelled from little old Hawea Flat to Auckland to visit Albany Senior, Stonefields, Summerlands and Point England - that opportunity has changed the way I view that classroom, the learning environment and what education should look like. I know that your experience will be a huge game change for HPSS.
    Safe travels and share lots :)

    1. Thanks Luke. Will certainly try to share a much as poss!

  2. 3 of the Ormiston leadership team were lucky enough to visit many of the same schools in Canada in 2009 (2 of us while at other schools) and it certainly has influenced learning at Ormiston Senior College, but in the context of the NZ curriculum, particularly effective pedagogies. Come and see us when you get back - would love to share thoughts and ideas. Faye Booker - Senior Leader, Ormiston Senior College

    1. Thanks Faye. Will definitely take you up on that offer, would be great to have an opportunity to discuss post trip.

  3. HI Claire, I'm looking forward to reading about your learning explorations and to discussing your new learning when you return. As you know, the idea of extending learning beyond the traditional school boundaries is very close to my heart (and my head). Go well and have a fabulous time - what a wonderful opportunity.

    1. Thanks Anne. We are definitely LONG overdue for a catch up. Let me know when you are up in Auckland mid-May on-ish. x


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