Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

New Zealand Curriculum Online navigation


Alfriston College – Theming the curriculum

When Alfriston College in Manurewa, Auckland, opened its doors in 2004, the year 9 teachers decided to establish their programmes by collating and categorising learning around conceptual themes. The school’s curriculum has been linked to themes ever since. Each term’s learning develops knowledge and understanding of the major concepts, which are further defined by a bigger idea.

Education for Enterprise in practice

The focus at Alfriston College is on providing authentic learning opportunities as often as possible. The year 9 programme is integrated across all curriculum areas and has a theme each term. For example, in 2008, the programme covered:

Term 1: The Journey – encompassing identity and heritage; where have I come from and where do I belong?

Term 2: Change and transformation – what’s changed and who cares?

Term 3: Order and chaos – without order, would there be chaos?

Term 4: Equality/Inequality – why do I have food on my plate when others in the world are starving?

Learning across the year is connected to these themes, and teachers use generic skills and, where possible, integrated assessments to ensure that learners are actively engaged in learning opportunities that are both relevant and authentic. For example, in term 3, "Order and chaos" will include the teaching of flowcharts and graphing. This process will be shared first with staff at a staff meeting and then taught the same way across all learning areas. Establishing how things will be taught and making sure each person is teaching in the same way is an important part of the process.
Each term begins with an integration day where the theme is introduced and learners are immersed in activities that introduce them to the concepts, mirroring the "entry to class" activity. This means all students follow the same lesson format – for example, beginning with a "Do now" or introduction before their normal class time and finishing with reflection time. The term ends with a "What is it day?" where each class presents their learning from a given learning area (maths, science, English) to the rest of year 9.
At the year 10–13 level, students have blended the courses available to increase the range of learning opportunities on offer – for example, technology and business studies. This approach is trying to break the mould of the way subjects are traditionally separated.

In terms two, three and four, Alfriston has a "Three-day episode" where the timetable is collapsed across the school and learning leaders (teachers) offer three-day intensive learning on a chosen topic or theme. Sometimes this is school wide. For example, for the Commonwealth Games theme, learning included dancing, sports, medal making, badges, flags, promotional chocolates, media crews, and newspaper production. Topics are also chosen for a more global curriculum enrichment focus, where learning centres around student interest in particular topics, such as cake decoration, photography, scrap booking, martial arts, school magazine production, fabric crafts, and tin can steam engines. Research has shown the school has less absenteeism during these "episodes".

"I learnt about finding my potential, in lots of things I didn't think I could do."

Caleb, year 10 student

How do you give students the opportunities to engage with local businesses and the community on a real project?

Staff constantly look out for opportunities to make links with the local community, and the Education for Enterprise Cluster project was an excellent catalyst for this. Some examples of the authentic learning connections included:

  • food technology students working with the school café staff
  • agencies such as FutureinTech, which acts as a broker for the school to access science, technology, and engineering industry contacts, bringing in a range of sports coaches on a regular basis from the community
  • links to Auckland Zoo staff, who bring animals in as part of specific animals modules
  • working with Manukau City Council on foot-traffic counts, where students collect and collate their findings and feed the information back to the council.

Alfriston’s year 10 enterprise class undertook a project with ImageNation, a company that creates unique, vibrant indigenous artwork focusing on the meanings of Aotearoa place names. The project was also run in conjunction with Manukau City Libraries. 
Students researched the meanings of Māori words and place names for the company (Papakura, Manurewa, Manukau, and so on), including an explanation of how each place got its name. They also researched iconic landmarks within each named region. 
ImageNation worked as mentors to the students during the project and visited the year 10 class weekly to engage and work collaboratively with students on their enterprising journey. 
As a result of the success of this phase of the project, ImageNation requested that the students lead, host, and manage an art auction of their latest series – Art Reo. Students organised every aspect of the event, from catering to promotions, invitations, and organising an auctioneer. They successfully met the challenge of running the art auction, which included the school's kapa haka group performing and Te Karare/Māori TV providing television coverage of the event. 
Not only did this learning experience add value to school-based learning, it also had an immense impact on the business partner – requesting to partner with Alfriston students on a new project.

Curriculum/programme links and why they were chosen

The assessment strategy was to use the key competencies as the assessment tool. This encouraged learners to focus on their own learning and skills.
Research has shown that it is not only the learners, but learning leaders who benefit from this approach. Teachers have the opportunity to work with colleagues outside their usual curriculum area, learning new skills and gaining ideas from one another, and working beside learners from all levels of the school whom they would otherwise not get to know.
The final assessment of the event put the focus on learners and the learning process and away from traditional assessment.

Designing teaching and learning programmes for modeling and developing enterprising attributes in students

"Our job as facilitators is to be flexible and offer optimum learning for our students. The courses set in stone for years are not necessarily the best ones."

Belinda Matthews, Head of Learning Area, Alfriston College

Belinda Matthews was the Education for Enterprise lead teacher and Head of Learning in technology at Alfriston for several years. She believes the technology programme and Education for Enterprise are a natural mix, and felt it was no real change for her to incorporate the two.

Working across other learning areas encourages sharing between staff and means teachers are not working in isolation.

The year 11 technology enterprise class continued to work with ImageNation while gaining credits towards Level 1 NCEA. Belinda feels strongly that assessment does not need to hinder the opportunities offered by learning in this way.

Related download

PDF icon. Final assessment (PDF, 106 KB)


Published on: 20 Mar 2015