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Recognising a need for change

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Taihape Area School was created in 2006 when the primary and secondary schools merged. School leaders, teachers, students, parents, whānau, and iwi have worked in partnership to undertake an extensive programme of change. This film explains the achievement and engagement issues that needed to be addressed.

This film is the first in a series, designed to provide support and inspiration to schools that are in the process of reviewing their own curriculum.

Professional learning conversations

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

  • Discuss the challenges that Taihape Area School faced which led them to a programme of change.
  • How does the Taihape Area School story compare with your own school context?
  • What are the current needs and priorities of your students and communities?

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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.


V/O: Taihape Area School was created in 2006 when the primary and secondary schools merged. There were many problems to overcome.

Barbara Wallis (teacher): When TAS began, it was a very structured secondary school system and the engagement by the students wasn’t good at all. The attendance was atrocious, and there were a lot of behavioural problems because of the lack of motivation by the students. And also, their academic results weren’t great and hadn’t been great for a little while.

Nicola Chase (Te Kauhua facilitator): What we used to say is that most of our kids spent 3, possibly 4 days at school; they had those sort of weeks. Mondays and Fridays were our worst attendance days.

Boyce Davey (Principal): The culture wasn’t good. There was four main issues: low achievement, divided community (and not just the community, but the learning community as well), there was low Māori achievement, and there was a lack of depth in the curriculum.

Nicola Chase: We lost 50 per cent of our Māori students from year 11 to 13 every year. You recorded it, it got given, sent away, and it was like nothing was ever done to actually do anything differently to attract them, to maintain to keep them.

Boyce Davey: The teachers were operating in a huge deficit culture. They thought they were doing the best and it was all the kids' fault. Fifty to sixty per cent of our students come from iwi, so they’re a major stakeholder in the school, but they had been treated like a minor stakeholder.

Ngaire Kauika-Stevens (iwi rep, board of trustees): We have never, ever been able to participate in a way that’s been good for us. Everybody else seems to think that they know what’s good for our kids, our people, and for the betterment of the community. And you know, for too long you've had that, and it hasn't worked.

Updated on: 10 Feb 2015