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Coley Street's development as a learning community - 2006


Digital story: Coley Street School


Recipe for change

Coley Street's recipe for change has involved a strong commitment to: behaviour management, sport, LEOTC programmes, community buy-in, changing attitudes to learning, ICT, curriculum change, and professional development.

Coley Street School: the facts

Coley Street School is a decile 2 full primary school in Foxton. Forty-two percent of students are Māori. The roll has grown to 270 (compared with 150 in 2001). They have a fantastic BOT and supportive community – crucial elements for change.A traditional curriculum was implemented, utilising 'traditional' teaching methodologies and resources, classrooms, and mindsets. Many children had switched off learning. There was a belief that computers were important. All classes used them for games and word processing, however many sat idle.

The renaissance: 2003

Coley Street joined eleven other schools in the Horowhenua Primary Schools ICT PD Cluster – a three-year project. Lead teachers began visiting other schools.

Ignition: 2004

From 2004 the school's direction changed dramatically. They installed a computer suite, developed a rigorous ICT infrastructure, and made laptops available for year 4–6 teachers.Using computers to support their work made the children highly motivated. Children and teachers learnt alongside each other and, in many cases, the children became the teachers. The children switched on to learning, and teachers saw the real power of the integration of ICT. Teachers and children began 'playing' (experimenting) with technology.The NAVCON 2004 Conference was a hugely inspirational experience for the principal and lead teachers. It initiated a major rethink of the school curriculum and delivery. They developed a clear future direction based on the need to provide a curriculum that emphasised e-learning as part of normal classroom practice and by making classrooms highly ICT compatible. It emphasised thinking, and teachers and children learning together. It became apparent that 'inquiry' was the ideal medium for restructuring the curriculum within the school.The need for curriculum change was clear – a change from a knowledge-based, overcrowded curriculum to one focused on developing skills and competencies.

The awakening: post NAVCON

The staff visited Selwyn Ridge School in Tauranga, a school at the leading edge in the implementation of thinking and e-learning. This reinforced the belief that the effective implementation of ICT is essential for preparing children for college and, eventually, to take their place in society.

Discovering: 2005

At beginning of the year, staff PD focused on developing a Coley Street inquiry model and the implementation of thinking skills.The Coley Street draft inquiry model has been implemented with considerable success throughout the school. Staff visited Viscount School in South Auckland – an inquiry school. Following the visit the draft inquiry model was revisited and revised.


The natural integration of ICT has been fundamental in the development of the inquiry learning model. The development of information literacy skills is a core aim in the school's philosophy for ICT use. In this type of environment learners have more ownership of, and responsibility for, their learning.As part of this environment, ICT enhances learning and provides opportunities:– for collaborative learning– to access a wide range of information sources– for learners to be more motivated in their learning– for learners to develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and higher order thinking skills– to develop a wide range of information skills in meaningful contexts– to produce work using a variety of multimedia– for children to use another tool to express themselves.The effective use of ICT as a tool for teaching and learning has become a key aspect of the Coley Street learning culture. In realising the potential of ICT we encourage whole school innovation that enhances the learning options and outcomes across the curriculum. We believe that ICT should be viewed as an integral part of the learning process and not as an added extra.The overall aim is to develop 'Coley Kids', who are powerful learners. That is, they can:– pose deep, meaningful questions– find relevant information, using ICT and other tools– articulate and communicate their findings.At Coley Street, the power and impact of the inquiry learning process became increasingly evident during 2005. The staff have continued their development as an inquiry school by reflecting on teaching practice and the learning that has occurred.

The road ahead

Coley Street School is committed to concentrated and ongoing professional development. They plan to revisit the inquiry model regularly and, if necessary, modify it. They will also revisit core values and virtues, and evaluate the development of the conceptual 'Coley Kid'. They are continually on the lookout for new technologies and methodologies to enhance teaching and learning in the school.


Coley Street School developed a philosophy for teaching and learning at their school.The key features of this philosophy are:

  • creating a technology rich environment where teachers and students would all be seen as learners
  • using an inquiry-learning model in the classrooms
  • focusing classroom programmes on developing skills and competencies
  • developing a "Coley Kid" - students who represent the school philosophy.

Discuss your school philosophy, in different groups, perhaps starting with some brainstorm questions.For example:Teachers: Why do we come to school? What would we all like to happen at our school? What should kids leaving this school know and be able to do? What educational values and beliefs are central to our school philosophy?Students: Why do we come to school? What am I good at, at school? How can this help me to learn? What do I need to take away from school? What are some of the things that make learning successful at our school? How do I learn to do the things I enjoy doing?

Published on: 19 Dec 2007