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Community and curriculum at Renwick School

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These four videos show how staff, students, parents, and the community worked together to write a school curriculum that reflected the vision and values of Renwick School and its place in the community. The Renwick School community were fully involved in the planning and writing of the local curriculum, and it is evident that parents, students, and staff all feel an ownership in the document and it's implementation.

There are four films in the Renwick School series:

  1. Community and curriculum
  2. Writing our curriculum
  3. Vision and values
  4. Curriculum in action

Professional learning conversations

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

From New Zealand Curriculum to school curriculum

The New Zealand Curriculum (p37) states:

"Curriculum is designed and interpreted in a three-stage process: as the national curriculum, the school curriculum, and the classroom curriculum. The national curriculum provides the framework and common direction for schools, regardless of type, size, or location. It gives schools the scope, flexibility, and authority they need to design and shape their curriculum so that teaching and learning is meaningful and beneficial to their particular communities of students. In turn, the design of each school’s curriculum should allow teachers the scope to make interpretations in response to the particular needs, interests, and talents of individuals and groups of students in their classes."

  • What is unique about your school and your community that needs to be included in your localised curriculum?
  • In what way has your community been engaged in the thinking around your school curriculum?
  • In what way have your students been engaged in the thinking around your school curriculum?

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Strengthening local curriculum
This section supports school and curriculum leaders and professional learning and development providers with the process of curriculum design and review. It includes information, research, tools, suggested areas of focus, and inspirational stories to help schools make decisions about how to give effect to the national curriculum.


Principal: We need to talk to our kids and we need to talk to our board obviously and we need to talk to our community. And so the first step was talking to the students. And one of the things that I felt deeply about was that the students need to be able to tell us what’s important to them in our school. So what’s the heartbeat of our school, what’s the pulse, how does it fit together, what’s important to them, why is it important to them, so that we can reflect that.

Student: Just to have our say in, like, what we are going to learn is really nice to know. Because otherwise we just wouldn’t know what we are going to learn and we would just have to sort of pick it up, but we do know and we get taught it.

Student: It is really good to have our own input into our learning with our teachers and soon on the Renwick School website we will be able to have our parent’s input into what we’ve been learning.

Principal: From that point on it was then engaging with our parents. And so after a lot of preparation and work and promoting the idea of come on mums and dads you need to come to school we need to talk to you, we had a very good turn out of parents in the hall, almost a year ago to today, it was in June. Basically that process was about, putting in front of parents, this is our assessment data, this is where we are at, this is exactly where we are at now, this is the hard data.

Parent: We as parents had an evening, at the school, at the school hall, where we had discussions about plans for the curriculum and what we would like to see in there and many aspects were pointing from our side which is now involved in the curriculum where we see that it went through to the children, yes.

Parent: I think that empowering schools to deliver what the community, and the students, and the teachers see as important, goes a long way to developing the education of the children.

Principal: From that point in that meeting we broke into groups of ten to twelve parents, two teachers to every group, so we had a lot of people, a lot of groups operating, and the same questions of our parents. What is it you want from the school for your children? What are your aspirations for your children? What is important for you that we make sure we deliver at school? What are the key things that make Renwick School tick for you, what is unique for us that we need to make sure we capture?

Parent: I think it is very important that we incorporate the community into the aspects of the school due to the hugely diverse range of people that we’ve got here and the industries that are associated with Blenheim. We’ve got the airforce base so we have students from there, we have the wine industry, we’ve got students from there, and we’ve got farming. So it is a huge cross section of a lot of different people and we need to be very mindful of their needs for the education of their children as well what is required of us to deliver in the curriculum side of things.

BOT chair: I think what was critical for the children to have in their learning was teaching them to learn fitting into their community, I think it is that combination, that is what the new curriculum is about, it is ever living, it’s ever breathing, sort of dynamic document. So we had to teach them to learn and have applicable to their own local community.

Student: Most people in our community are really friendly and they just love teaching us kids stuff.

Student: I enjoy learning from people in our community because they are real people and the things that we learn are things that actually do happen in our community. For example people from the airforce came and talked to us about their jobs because Renwick is right next to the airforce, airbase.

Parent: One thing that developing your curriculum to fit in with the guidelines that you’ve got gives you is the ability to keep evolving it. That it is not a static document, it is going to continually revolve or evolve as needs change and as the community maybe changes. So it doesn’t tie your hands as to one style of thing, it gives you the opportunity to sort of incorporate whatever you need for the community.

Principal: So we felt from there we had a clear direction that had been set for us by the students and parents to move ahead and start thinking about writing a curriculum that truly reflected the needs, aspirations, and the skills and expertise that we have sitting in our community.

Published on: 23 Jun 2010