Greytown school’s education success
A Wairarapa high school is hailing the early results of a radical curriculum change, which has done away with individual subjects and focuses instead on solving ‘‘real-life problems’’.
Kuranui College, in Greytown, said introducing the change for the new school year had been time-consuming, but early indications suggested it was having a positive impact.
‘‘We have seen a dramatic reduction of behavioural concerns and a massive increase in engagement,’’ deputy principal Vicki Wish said. ‘‘There is a buzz of learning happening in classrooms, and a corresponding tone in the staffroom.’’
The introduction of the Ignite system for year 9 and 10 students had been in the planning for more than two years, and were geared towards suiting students’ individual strengths, she said.
Each course offered under the system encompass different subjects: some will be compulsory, and in each there will be choices.
‘‘Students have responded very well to being in classes with a wide range of abilities, and having both year 9 and year 10 in each course,’’ Wish said.
‘‘It’s exciting to see our new year 9s work hard to match the skills and knowledge of year 10s, and for the year 10s to also lift their game in response. We’re confident that this will pay dividends in the senior school.’’
‘‘There is a buzz of learning happening in classrooms, and a corresponding tone in the staffroom.’’
Wish said last year that the changes stemmed from a desire to focus more on individual students’ strengths.
‘‘When we began evaluating how effective we were in delivering the curriculum in our junior school ... we quickly identified that there were three key issues that needed to be addressed. We were giving an unequal amount of time to the study of core versus option subjects.
‘‘Students were having little ownership in what they learnt, and many were experiencing difficulty in seeing the connections between the subjects they were studying and the relevance for real-life after leaving school.’’
An example of how the Ignite system works is that students might be required to do three maths courses over years 9 and 10, but they would have a choice of eight.
A keen maths student might choose to do all eight.
A Ministry of Education spokeswoman said the national curriculum was designed with flexibility in mind.
‘‘The NZ curriculum sets the direction and guidance for student learning,’’ she said. ‘‘All schools are required to deliver the learning outcomes contained in the curriculum to their students. How schools do this is flexible to meet the needs of their students in a way that is relevant.
‘‘Kuranui appears to be tailoring the curriculum as it is intended.’’
Several year 9 students and their parents have told the school the new curriculum drew them towards Kuranui.
Will Isaacs, who came to Kuranui from Greytown School, said he liked the look of the new system. ‘‘The Ignite programme looked really interesting and I’m enjoying DVC, which stands for Design Visual Communications.
‘‘It’s like technical drawing and designing, and we are designing logos for our own design company.’’
Meg Hunter also liked the look of the subject matter.
‘‘I am enjoying the range of subjects and teachers.’’