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Our vision for English at Katikati College

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Natalie Cowie, head of English at Katikati College, takes us through the process her department used to develop a vision for teaching and learning.

Professional learning conversations

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

After watching this video discuss:

  • the process used at Katikati College for bringing the school vision into the department, and explore a process that would suit your context
  • who needs to be involved in this process
  • the development of an action plan.


The school vision is three part, and it’s about making sure that students reach their potential, that we provide meaningful learning opportunities for them and helping them become valuable members of society. It came about after whole school meetings and consultation with the community.

In 2010 the process has been to take that vision and develop strategic intents from that and then after that was developed, it was taken back to faculties and we actually translated the whole school vision into one for our students. That process involved getting student voice, input from the teachers, so that the students and the teachers know what the vision actually looks like in an English context.

It’s necessary for a faculty to have a vision so we know where we’re going, we’re all on the same page, we’re all speaking the same language, and that’s essential. The kids know that we have a vision for them, which is really important, it’s in language they understand and we can actually say this is what success in English looks like and link it to our school vision.

We had a questionnaire on Moodle that was developed by a deputy principal who is in the English faculty and the students went on there - they were asked to talk about the school vision which we saw quickly as something they weren’t familiar with so we had to come up with the ways in which they would become familiar.

Then we talked about, part of the questionnaire was, what they valued in English, what they thought success in English was, what they wanted from English and that has formed part of the things that we have made up our vision with. And as I said by those three strands we can lead them through the activities and so forth, that will lead to that overall vision: meaningful, valuable, reaching potential.

The sort of things that they want to be able to get from English by the end of studying it was interesting. They’re very keen on the written skills, they realised the importance of them, they realise the importance of what we do do and teach. And that I think is often surprising, how much kids do actually pick up on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

Getting teachers onboard was relatively easy because it had been a schoolwide process the strategic intents had been developed and from there. Because we had them, we could take those to a faculty meeting, we had the feed in from the Moodle questionnaire and we talked as a faculty, we were able to come up with this faculty vision.

Now the students’ learning is more visible. They know what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and where it’s going to lead. That’s been tremendously important. And it also gives them more choice - the way that we’ve arranged our courses, the way that our goals are set up, they certainly have a lot more enjoyment - the reading goals in particular have been enjoyable for both staff and students to be working on this year.

The specific challenges of leading this vision actually were not as great as I expected because of the work that had been done as a whole school. The shift to the way that we’re looking at reading and writing has also helped as well because it’s less nuts and bolts and more on the big ideas, as are the thematic units.

Think of the big picture, what do you really want your faculty to look like? What do you want somebody who leaves your faculty to look like? What skills will they have? To actually start there.

Published on: 13 Jul 2011