Grey­town school’s ed­u­ca­tion suc­cess

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - JACK BAR­LOW

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.’’

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