- Student Life
"Students are actively involved in the full life of the school and know each other well."
Nga Tawa is a small yet passionate, caring, rural school for girls. For the students of Nga Tawa, their learning experiences result in their worlds expanding in ways they never thought possible. For young people still in a formal education system, the focus has shifted in the last few years. We are less concerned with content as we are with context (particularly in a 'Google' age). Our focus at Nga Tawa is about how to get our students to become good learners. Obviously, concepts still need to be taught and skills still need to be developed; but there has been a pedagogical shift in the way in which expertise in these areas is now developed. Content delivery is simply not enough in our rapidly developing world. In New Zealand, we are shifting from simple recollection of facts towards deep, critical processing. This type of learning and thinking can be applied across all learning experiences at all ages and all stages.
This shift is explained most clearly in the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum document issued by the Minister of Education. This document was the result of input from thousands of educationalists from classroom teachers to international researcher's contributions over a three year period. This document is now considered the best example of a curriculum in the world. The following is a short excerpt from the foreword.The New Zealand Curriculum is a clear statement of what we deem important in education. It takes as its starting point a vision of our young people as lifelong learners who are confident and creative, connected, and actively involved. It includes a clear set of principles on which to base curriculum decision making. It sets out values that are to be encouraged, modelled, and explored. It defines five key competencies that are critical to sustained learning and effective participation in society and that underline the emphasis on lifelong learning.Karen Sewell - Secretary for Education (2007)
We are grounded by our school mission, values and vision. Our school mission statement is "A centre for personal excellence and global education within a Christian Community" and our core values are integrity, respect and courage. Our school vision is to "create outstanding members of society".
We understand what we desire for our learners. We need our learners to be academically agile – able to learn, unlearn and relearn across multiple disciplines and settings. We want Nga Tawa learners to be intellectually and emotionally resilient in order to cope with the demands, the challenges and the setbacks of life as members of society. We want to expose our students to as many contexts as possible which values and allows for multiple intelligences while developing the physical, the spiritual, the emotional and the intellectual potential in each of them. We want our students to develop a deeper understanding of concepts and skills; an understanding which is developed through a learning process which will create genuine life-long and self-determining learners – 21st Century Learners.
In order to respond to the challenge of assisting our students to become equipped for lifelong learning, our curriculum will be engaging. It will be working towards a more student-centred pedagogy which incorporates the best of technology available to us. It will break down the traditional barriers between learning areas and so encourage a richer and more diverse learning experience. Our curriculum will engage in transformational learning, where our students will see their worlds expand in ways they could never have imagined. And the learner will be at the centre of this as they embark on their own learning journey which will set them up ready to take their place on the world stage.
In 2008, the Deputy Principal (Tony Booker) initiated full staff discussion on the implications of the new curriculum document. A group of interested staff formed a 'Curriculum Directions' group (chaired by the Deputy Principal) to continue the dialogue around where Nga Tawa may take its lead from this new document and how our special character (in every sense of the word) may influence this direction. In 2009 a vision was developed and shared around what a Nga Tawa 'global citizen' might look like, incorporating both IB and the New Zealand Curriculum document.
In late 2010, a 'Junior Curriculum Leadership Team' was formed with the support of the Board of Trustees. This team was to research and recommend the possible ways the school could begin to develop a Year 9-11 programme that gave full effect to the New Zealand Curriculum document and provide an enhanced platform for senior school success and '21st century learning'.
Throughout 2011, research and re-imagining was undertaken with a view to exploring aspects of school day structure, integrated curriculum and pedagogical (teaching delivery) shift. With the previous Principal leaving in September 2011, the focus narrowed to integrated curriculum delivery as this was deemed manageable with the Deputy Principal acting as Principal for Term 4 of 2011.
In 2012, the new Principal became heavily involved with the Junior Curriculum Leadership Team. The loss of the Deputy Principal in May to another school was challenging, but the vision had been formed and was taken to the next level. The integrated themes approach across learning areas grew and student-led conferences at the end of each term proved popular with students, parents and staff alike. After many robust discussions and debates about structural changes to the timetable, a new vision was clarified and a new way was developed.
Teaching and Learning Time
Our day will be structured into four teaching and learning periods of 75 minutes each. This is to enable and support deeper and more engaged learning. There will be timetabled form time twice a week in the afternoons so that form teachers can work more closely with students delivering a planned mentoring programme ("Inform Mentoring Programme" as implemented at St Kentigern's College). Flexi-time will continue to run as it does now. The school day will be the same length; we are simply utilising more intensive, longer periods for more in-depth learning. We can achieve this through an 8 day rotating timetable. Prep will be student centred and will support and extend learning which goes on in the classroom.
Blended eLearning is our response to best meet the diverse needs of 21st century learners. This approach embraces the potential of technology to improve efficiency and personalise learning whilst still emphasising the primacy of student and teacher interaction within education. Content delivery will increasingly be switched toward electronic delivery with students collecting and collating this information within their private study times. Lesson time in contrast will increasingly involve students engaging in high value learning activities alongside their peers and the teacher.
Developments in communication technology and specifically the opportunity to outsource IT infrastructure will empower the learning community. From 2013 the Nga Tawa network will become ubiquitous via the Nimbus cloud solution. The current intention at Nga Tawa is that from 2014 each student will be required to possess an internet capable device with defined specifications. This will probably be an IPAD2 or a similar technology superseding it. The choice of the IPAD reflects our vision and the type of activities / teaching style we will be focusing on. The device students will need must allow fast connectivity, efficient tools for collaboration and the development of original content. The devices are not viewed as a laptop replacement but rather as an agile tool for engagement in modern learning. Senior students with specific needs in design or music composition may require more specific devices.
The purchase of an IPAD2 (or similar) is not expected in 2013 for our families. However, should you wish to, or already possess such technology, your daughter will be able to bring such a device to use during flexi-time and in prep. All of our classroom teachers will be receiving an IPAD2 in 2013 so that they may develop in their own applications of teaching as we take our eLearning strategy through 2013 to full implementation in 2014. Our staff are committed to the philosophy of 'life-long' learning whereby extensive professional learning programmes are in place for all teachers in 2013.
Learning anywhere, anytime, anyhow is the next step for all of us. This flexibility enables the students of Nga Tawa to maximise their learning opportunities while still pursuing their personal best in co-curricular activities such as equestrian, rowing, music, speech and drama, sport and outdoor education.
Level 2 NCEA is the benchmark minimum qualification which students in New Zealand should be leaving school with. It is also the benchmark in many scholarship and hostel applications for university candidates (subject to Level 3 results). In order to focus on preparing students to be in the best position to learn and master from Year 12, we are approaching our curriculum delivery for Years 10 and 11 as a single two-year programme which offers more flexibility than two single year programmes. Students will still complete Level 1 NCEA by the end of Year 11. There is no NCEA assessment in Year 10 unless it specifically enriches the learning programme. The focus is on developing our learners.
Year 10/11 Core Subjects
All students undertake six core subjects to the end of Year 11:
Physical Education & Health
A second language of choice (ESOL, French, Spanish, te reo Māori, Literacy-rich course)
The study of a second language will be compulsory for Year 10/11 (with other options open for students for whom a literacy-rich course in English would be beneficial). This is consistent with our strategic plan in promoting global awareness and sensitivity. Research supports second language learning as enhancing all- round achievement and studying a second language to the end of Year 11 is consistent with maintaining a broad and enriching education as late into schooling as possible.
Social Sciences will remain as a single subject option for all students, not splitting into subject specialisms until Year 12 (as Science does now). The skills which students develop through the study of Social Sciences (traditionally Geography, History and Classical studies) are skills which will support all students in their future studies. Nga Tawa values the development of these skills in all learners.
Year 10/11 Option Choices
In Year 10, all students will undertake four half-yearly courses in the option choices as outlined below
Performing Arts (with a strong focus on music studies)
Soft Materials Technology
Food and Nutrition
Students will then retain two of these four options in Year 11. This will result in a 1.5 year course for two options by the end of Year 11. Limiting students to two options at the beginning of Year 10 was considered to be too restrictive.
Year 10 Project
Each Year 10 student will undertake a major inquiry project over the course of the year while applying the skills which they are developing across all learning areas. Each staff member will mentor three students during the year. While the details of this independent inquiry project are yet to be worked through, the philosophy behind this is to encourage the use of many of the key competencies which are expressed in the New Zealand Curriculum document while they are being nurtured and developed in more formal learning settings.
Year 12 & 13
Our NCEA pass rates continue to be amongst the highest in New Zealand. Working with individual students as they map out and work towards their future learning and career pathways is what a passionate and small learning community such as ours does as a matter of course. Well supported by two boards, Nga Tawa is committed to every possible learning opportunity in the senior school.
Our fresh focus in the junior school will not only serve to enhance the learning for our junior students but the flow on effect of staff professional development and a more robust learning foundation will pay dividends in years to come; both in terms of the breadth of learning experiences and in the heights of academic achievement.
We are a passionate, small, caring, rural school for girls. The Nga Tawa Curriculum is more than the transaction of learning for qualifications. The Nga Tawa Curriculum is about transformation. Our students see their worlds expand in ways they never thought possible.
We are not limited by our rural setting – we are enhanced. Community is built in every sense of the word. Family is created that bonds us all for life. Life is lived fully and in a healthy and holistic manner. Learning at Nga Tawa is maximised by virtue of being a single-gender setting with a truly innovative curriculum supported by the latest technology to take us to the world and to bring the world to us. The uniqueness of each and every girl is recognised within the 'oneness' which is Nga Tawa.
Our special character enriches our curriculum. We are truly holistic in every sense of the word. With our long and special heritage, we look to the past with fondness; we look forward to the future with excitement. We have one foot held securely in tradition and the other foot in the future.
This truly is a place of inspired learning for inspiring lives.