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Creating a culture of learning at Peterhead School


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Digital story: Peterhead School

Creating a culture of learning

Peterhead School is in the heart of Flaxmere in the Hawkes Bay. Part of the philosophy of the school is an awareness that change in education is ongoing and necessary if teaching and learning is going to reflect the needs of the community and a changing world. The school has developed a process to manage change that has evolved over a number of years and includes features that have become critical to the way they have managed these changes.

They acknowledge and incorporate into the process a time frame for change, that change takes time and that everyone needs to be part of the process; that people need to be supported and have a sense of ownership of the change. They have found that during the implementation of new ideas, there often needs to be a trial period that gives teachers time to ask questions, experiment and trial their own ideas in the classroom. They have used other programmes as models for change and have adapted aspects of some programmes to meet the needs of their own environment. Included in this is the school’s involvement in a number of recent professional development programmes: the AtoL contract, the ICTPD cluster schools project, and the regional development cluster for The New Zealand Curriculum. There is a culture at Peterhead School of working collaboratively, of expecting to share ideas and information, and of consistently reviewing and reflecting, individually and as a group, about what is working in their teaching practice and exploring new ideas.

“I think you need to have the base of learning that we’ve experienced with these other programmes. This helps to create a currency of language that is essential to building a culture of learning and thinking at school. This then leads onto the ability to facilitate further changes.”

Martin Genet

The key competencies are integral to Peterhead School’s approach to curriculum design, and the implementation of the key competencies illustrate this school’s commitment to working together, and developing a shared understanding of new learning and teaching practice. The story begins with an explanation of the journey they are undertaking to understand and work with the key competencies.

“As we work on new developments it takes time to read and then talk about each new aspect, this needs to be in-depth, focused talking where teachers are able to share their ideas, plan new development stages and then have the opportunity to trial them and report back.”

Tineka Tuala Fata, Deputy Principal.

The story then looks at a number of these new initiatives. This includes Discovery Time in the junior school and the impact it is having on oral language development and literacy, the learning portfolios, and two teachers discussing the way they have started to incorporate the key competencies into their teaching programmes.

Review questions image.

Key Competencies
Have we clarified what each key competency should mean for our students and the conditions that will help to develop each competency?

Learning Areas
Are the meaning and intent of our curriculum area statements well aligned with The New Zealand Curriculum learning area statements?

Does our curriculum explain how our programmes are designed to meet the needs and interests of our students?

Have we considered making, and planning for, connections across learning areas, values, and key competencies?

Published on: 10 Dec 2008