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Making it our curriculum

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Matakohe school worked together as a community to redesign their school curriculum. Through listening to the values and aspirations of everyone, they have developed their own graduate profile with a set of competencies for all students to work towards.

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

Matakohe School's graduate profile communicates a shared understanding of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes their students will need to participate in a range of life contexts beyond school.

  • Do your teachers, students, families, and communities have a shared understanding of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that your students need?
  • How is this vision for your students brought to life at your school? Could you relaunch your vision or graduate profile in a different way to give it new life?
  • How relevant is your vision for learning today? Is it future focused and does it reflect the values and aspirations of your current school community?
  • In what ways do you work with your community to share aspirations, values, and ideas for teaching and learning at your school? Can you recognise opportunities to invite more community input? 

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Graduate profiles – a vision of future oriented learning
This blog post explains how school communities are creating graduate profiles to share understandings of what a future-oriented learner looks like. Use the suggested discussion activity to consider what skills, knowledge, and attitudes your school graduates need for their future.

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School partnerships self-audit tool
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I think redesigning our curriculum document has had a real impact on everything in the school, not just the teaching and learning in the classroom - on the teachers, on the staff, and on the students, because we own it. It’s ours. You use it a lot more than you used the old one. The old one was very large and this one is simple and easy to use.

I think the first process in developing our school curriculum was that we recognised that we needed to change. That was the first thing. Then we had big consultation with the community and the students to see what they thought was important in the curriculum.

As a parent I felt fully involved in the development of the curriculum and welcome to contribute fully. We attended consultation meetings where we all came up with what we felt was important. There were questionnaires sent home. I think as a parent [we] definitely had a voice and how we felt about what we wanted our children to come out of school with was definitely listened to and taken on board.

We had teacher-only days, some of them in the holidays because it was handy and didn’t need relievers. A lot of sharing, a lot of talking in the staff room at staff meetings; talking about what worked and what didn't work. It was really difficult at the beginning because it was a huge jump from what we had been doing.

As a board we’ve supported the change in curriculum right from the onset, in supporting the teachers and having the teacher-only days when and as they’ve requested it. Having Sue come on board, we were privileged enough to be able to spend a day working with Sue and the staff and having full input into that curriculum, which was invaluable. Also as a board it gave us a better understanding of how things were changing in the school and just through that understanding we were able to support Margie and the staff in what they needed.

We talked to the local high schools and [determined] what skills they needed to have when they left here as year eight. Then we came up with our graduate profile, which we called our Matakohe competencies, and those are our eight competencies here. The language of our eight competencies is part of our school language. We talk it all the time, so that makes it easier to sustain because it’s how the children are starting to think.

As a beginning teacher I think it’s been a really valuable experience to be able to be part of the curriculum redesign - for me, a starting point. Particularly the competencies have given me really good tools to use when communicating with students and helping them to set goals and helping them to achieve those goals. It’s been really useful to be able to refer to those and help the students use those in their everyday language as well.

Before I wasn’t really good at setting goals. I didn't know much about how to set a goal but now I can set goals. They ask us every afternoon about how our day was, and what our favourite part was, and did we have an "I can do" attitude, and stuff like this. You’ve got to give a long - at least a good answer - otherwise you’ve got to do another one. It just helped my learning that’s what I can say about it.

This curriculum is about who we are because we really… we had a questionnaire that all of our families were involved in. Our board of trustees and the staff had a whole day together talking about what we saw as important to the community. That’s why our community really has [as] one of our competencies, the one about water-safety skills. For our community that came through loud and clear that’s what they wanted so that’s actually in our curriculum, and it’s something that we have to do because we've put it into our curriculum.

I actually think at the beginning I was probably resistant. Probably because I just saw here goes something else that we are going to do and it’s going to be a lot more work and a lot more effort on top of what we’re doing already. I did feel at the beginning that our school was running along quite smoothly and quite well. I’m actually thrilled that we’ve done it because I think, myself personally, my teaching approach has totally changed. I think I am experiencing so much more greater rewards out of my learners now than what I could have ever achieved beforehand.

Published on: 28 Oct 2013