Like all schools in New Zealand we have the privilege of developing a local curriculum with the New Zealand Curriculum as our guiding document. This world-class document enables local communities to develop a localised curriculum in response to the principles, values and vision of the New Zealand Curriculum.
Waitākiri students will have the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and understandings in mathematics, english (numeracy and literacy), the arts, science, social sciences, technology, health and physical education as well as developing their key competencies.
In the early years, children learn the skills of reading, writing, and numeracy so that they can explore into their world and engage in authentic learning contexts as they get older. Our curriculum is designed to encourage children to want to read and write and develop numeracy skills because of the learning activities and opportunities that they are involved in.
The Waitākiri Curriculum is a "Place based Curriculum". That is one where our children know first about their place, their community and their place in the community so that they can learn about their world. Our 2019 integrated-learning concept, Responsibility/Ngā Kawenga is inextricably linked and interconnected with each of the big ideas from the previous three years: Relationships / Whanaungatanga; Sustainability/Kaitiakitanga; Diversity and Culture/Kanorau.
Our curriculum is developed with an Enviroschools foundation. We are very proud to have received a Bronze accreditation in 2016, a Silver in 2017 and the highest Green Gold in 2019. We work with our community as an enviro school and as a school of kaitiaki and weave environmental practices throughout everything we do.
The teaching of Mathematics at Waitākiri School is based on the Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities (DMIC) approach, founded by Dr Bobbie Hunter. This approach promotes a group-based approach to problem solving.
Students are introduced to word problems, which contain relevant cultural aspects and real life situations, then encouraged to share their different ways of solving them with each other. At the end of each lesson, the teacher reinforces the ‘big idea’ that is being taught, along with any specific mathematical concepts that are being targeted.
This approach to teaching mathematics began as a way to raise student achievement for students in South Auckland Schools, and its success has been so pronounced that is has branched out to other parts of New Zealand and other countries in the world.
Literacy (reading, writing, oral and visual language) is also given priority in class programmes, consistent with our school belief of ‘Excellence in Literacy and Numeracy.’ Teachers assess children’s learning needs using a range of assessment tools and monitor progress against national levels of achievement. Needs based group teaching is a mandatory component of numeracy and literacy teaching in all classes. Learning is scaffolded to assist children to meet their goals. Teaching programmes are well resourced with materials to motivate, engage and challenge children.
Inquiry/ Action Learning/ Problem Based Learning
Integrated problem-based learning provides an important means for helping students develop the concepts, skills and dispositions necessary for life-long learning. Such connection gives learners a coherent approach and experience to learning that builds progressively on their understanding and skills, and makes links between knowledge acquired across the learning areas. This allows teaching for conceptual understanding where children can connect ideas in a transferrable way, in different contexts and for different purposes - to see common threads within the concepts, and how ideas are related.
Concepts link with the school’s tikanga, ‘REAL’, focusing on Respect, Encouragement, Achievement and Life-long Learners and are integrated across the learning areas and strands/dimensions of NZC, and the EnviroSchools' Guiding Principles.
A conceptual inquiry approach provides authentic opportunities to explore the living world and investigations in science, any of the conceptual strands, the social sciences, as well as technological practice in the technology learning area and the socio-ecological perspective in health.
The school’s focus for learning is mathematics, literacy, and inquiry through science and the other learning areas. Our place-based curriculum enables the science inquiry focus for children in Year 1 & 2 through the context of whenua (land), through wai (water) in years 3 & 4 and through rangi, (the air, sky, solar system and beyond) in years 5 & 6. These contexts allow teachers to focus teaching and ensure quality learning experiences and opportunity for children.
The Waitākiri Curriculum encourages children to explore their questions within the defined concept, develop new knowledge and understandings through this process and wherever possible take some action. This process is the common theme within the three approaches above (inquiry, action learning, problem based learning).
Music and visual arts are taught by a specialist teachers at Waitākiri. Children have a 45 minute session once a week. Our music and visual arts teachers have an understanding of the class learning activities and also the concept for the year. This allows our music and visual arts teaching to have a similar flavour as the studio learning rather than being isolated. We believe that the complexity of music and visual arts teaching and the skills required for quality outcomes warrant the approach of utilising a specialist teacher. The remainder of the Arts learning area is taught by classroom teachers.
Health and Physical Education
Health is taught within the classroom programme whereas Physical Education (PE) is taught by a specialist teacher. The evidence suggests to us that this system ensures that children are exposed to a wider range of learning opportunities in physical education as well as connecting with the teacher who organises sport and extension opportunities in PE.
The school also provides weekly specialist teaching in Te Reo and this is supported by the ongoing use of Te Reo within the studios and across the school.
Reporting to parents
Within four weeks of a new entrant child starting school, their home group teacher will contact parents/caregivers to organise a time to meet to share information about the child and discuss their start at school.
This is an important part of starting to build a relationship between families and school that will develop further over the time the child is at Waitakiri. The child attends the learning conference too.
Parents receive two written reports a year, these are in the middle and at the end of the year. These reports will be online, parents login into Hero to view reports.
Parents meet with teachers and their children twice a year for a 3-Way (teacher, parent, child) Learning Conference. One is at the start of the year and the other is at the start of term three. Parents are free to book other times to see their child's teacher during the year if they are concerned about their learning. In the same way, the teacher will often meet with parents to provide additional feedback.
Please do not expect the report tell you what your child cannot do - the list is endless, as it is for us adults! Rather, we will report on their progress and achievement and share next steps for learning. The written reports will let you know if your child is meeting expectations in reading, writing and mathematics.
Our report format will be simple to understand and will help you to join with us to assist your child to make the best possible progress.