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Students discuss the culture of support at Hauraki Plains College

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River groups at Hauraki Plains College support students in both academic pursuits and the day to day challenges they face. Here, students discuss how their river group experience has had a positive effect socially, academically, and in preparation for their transition from High School.

Professional learning community

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

Creating a supportive learning environment

The New Zealand Curriculum (p34) states that:

"Learning is inseparable from its social and cultural context. Students learn best when they feel accepted, when they enjoy positive relationships with their fellow students and teachers, and when they are able to be active, visible members of the learning community. Effective teachers foster positive relationships within environments that are caring, inclusive, non-discriminatory, and cohesive. They also build good relationships with the wider school community, working with parents and caregivers as key partners who have unique knowledge of their children and countless opportunities to advance their children’s learning."

  • In what ways does your school connect with and support students outside of the classroom?
  • What knowledge and skills do your students need, and what actions have you taken to further improve student outcomes?
  • How have you fostered positive relationships between staff and students, and between staff and whānau?

Have you seen ...

Wellbeing@School website
Provides schools with two toolkits to use for self-review – Wellbeing@School tools; and Inclusive Practices Tools. Both these toolkits can be used by schools to confidentially store data, access data reports, find suggestions for next steps, and track changes over time.


I really enjoy it because it keeps me on track. Our river group guide has our results and knows if we have got into trouble and it is really about accountability.

It is about connections, people you hang out with and people you don’t just from all different walks of life that get jumbled together and get to share and build off and build from each other. Being new to the school I wouldn’t have made the friends that I’ve made if it wasn’t for my river group. I would never have made these connections otherwise. I think that when they made these groups they purposefully mixed them up as much as they could because the people in the river groups could not be more different.

At the start we mostly planned out goals for the year, things we wanted to achieve. We had to do a social goal and school goal and what we had done the previous year. But we were not just going over goals, we were also going over things we might face. Things that we encounter like risks and how the key competencies etc relate to school life how school prepares us for life beyond and just things we may encounter.

It was really cool when we were setting goals because we weren’t just talking about what we wanted to achieve but also what might stop us getting there and what challenges we might face, how we could overcome them and what steps we might take to achieve. At a lot of schools you sit down and write down your goals and never look at them again, but we constantly go back to them and look at them.

The river guides all had to make contact with our parents, our river guide sent out post cards introducing himself. I guess that makes contact and mum now knows what we’re up to. It is new to her as well. With parent teacher interviews there was also a time slot where the parents could choose to talk to the river group leaders as well. The river group leaders have more of an idea of where you are at in general.

My river guide is also my maths teacher and that is really good because he always checks to make sure everything is going well, he makes sure I am happy where I am sitting and asks me for feedback on how the class is going and things like that. 

There was a stigma almost about the principal to fear her, but now she has almost become human in a sense that she is one of us and we can go to her if we have something to say or we have problems. I think most students have the idea that the principal and teachers are up there and you don’t really get to see them or talk to them one on one. It has been really cool having the deputy principal with a group and we can see that she is human and we can chat with her. I know we have all popped into her office and said hi, and feeling free to go and ask her for help or support. We even take our friends to her if they have something to face because we know they are going to be able to help.

Updated on: 21 Jun 2009