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Whanganui Girls’ College – Our school magazine

Whanganui Girls' College applied an enterprising approach to an annual school tradition – the school magazine. This project gave the students responsibility for all aspects of the magazine’s content, presentation, and production. The project encouraged the girls to use their initiative, work responsibly and cooperatively, and develop "real-life" skills.

How does this fit with an enterprising approach?

Mike Jackson, the head of technology at Whanganui Girls’ College, took on the overall responsibility. Mike emphasised that the school magazine was more than just a record of activity: “It’s a flag. When students take it home, they’re waving our flag – this is what goes on in our school!”

Mike acknowledges that most students are more interested in the content than the presentation, but he sees the vital link between the product and the target market as quality – in all aspects of content and presentation. He decided that student ownership of the final product would be critical.

I moved away from any thoughts of contracting out the process – you don’t get the level of ownership from the people involved, and you take away the flair that the students recognise as "theirs" as opposed to someone else’s.

Mike Jackson, head of technology, Whanganui Girls' College

Mike set up an organisational structure to encourage the natural evolution of student ownership. He negotiated the assistance of local printers, who would be consulted by the students throughout the project and would finally print the magazine. The material produced had to be presented in a suitable format for the company contracted to do the final printing.

Software requirements were established and requisite skills identified. Through a visit to the school by the print company, students were made aware of the challenges and opportunities, and encouraged to become part of the production process. The team was trained to operate the software.

We needed students who were going to be able to pick it up quickly – people who were competent with the computer and who knew what we were talking about. They needed to be able to learn the new skills – and that was the biggest learning curve for everyone, to start with.

Mike Jackson, head of technology

Mike had high expectations of the enterprise attributes that would be required. The students had to be committed to the project. They had to be able to work with other people, encourage others to contribute and to share the ownership, and take responsibility for the final outcome.

It was a challenging year and meeting the deadline was critical. In the first year, the enterprise magazine was available to the girls on the final evening of the school year.

In reflecting on the process, Mike regarded his role as a facilitator who gave the students the opportunity to experiment, rather than tell them what they were going to do. This facilitation encouraged leadership to come from the girls themselves. Mike wanted his team to be comfortable to suggest different ways to do things. He looked to set up a secure working environment that would create the required level of group ownership of the process.

Mike documented the process and gathered individual student evidence that could be presented for assessment against NCEA graphics and/or technology achievement standards.


Published on: 27 Mar 2015