Make a difference…


What drives the value I place on making a difference and on our ākonga making a difference…

Proponents of socio-critical discourses have foregrounded critical pedagogy (Culpan & Bruce, 2007; Gillespie & Culpan, 2000; Ross, 2001; Sparkes, 1996; Tinning, 2002). In  education, advocates of critical pedagogy are committed to ongoing reflection and action, as a process for creating change in classroom structures and practices that perpetuate undemocratic life. Furthermore, proponents attempt to develop a culture of schooling that supports empowerment of culturally marginalised and economically disenfranchised students (Baltodano, Darder & Torres, 2003). Critical pedagogy involves questioning assumptions of power, inequalities, and the relationship between power and knowledge. In addition, by acknowledging these inequalities, critical pedagogy aims to empower individuals and groups to take social action for change. Consequently, emancipation and social justice are major goals of critical pedagogues (Culpan & Bruce, 2007; Friere, 1972; McLaren, 2007).

I have written about students making a difference in a couple of posts before…

engage through powerful partnerships ….contribute confidently and responsibly in our changing world…

Ākonga making a difference through powerful partnerships.

This is a major driver for me philosophically. I am therefore lucky to be working in a school that has “powerful partnerships” as a main driver and critical pedagogy being applied in praxis, through an on going process of reflection and action. I am excited to be able to work in the “Impact Projects” at school this year and ensure I put this into action so that it is not just rhetoric. The intent of the project is to work with our special needs unit on site here at school “Arohanui” to ensure inclusion for all. To ensure we challenge power relations involving those with special needs and how they are included in society.

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 12.16.59 PM.png

with a focus on the Manaakitanga strand…

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 12.16.05 PM.png

Liz , Cairan and Rebecca make up our awesome project team at HPSS and have developed the curriculum around this to have student voice into passions, interests and needs of our students. The students are currently working their way around sparks over a six week period to get a true taster for what project may light their fire. I am running sparks for students and have tried to do this with the voice of the Arohanui students. Here is the voice of our potential partners…

What has been exciting to me over the past few weeks is that there is great interest from our students in this project. They see this project as a potential symbiotic relationship, where both groups of ākonga benefit from this definite challenge to the status quo. On the one hand, I feel that those who opt into this project have had a sense of empathy from the outset, on the other hand, what an amazing opportunity to develop many other skills and attributes. These attributes and skills may include, empathy, compassion, communication skills, leadership skills, patience, tolerance, acceptance of diversity and many more… The Arohanui students are excited to work with the mainstream kids and it has been rewarding seeing the students after the video provocation, going down and introducing themselves to the Arohanui students, the smiles on their faces as they say their names and introduce themselves has been tear jerking. As all of the seniors in the school are moving through the sparks, they are all learning their names, so we talked to the fact that even if they do not pick the project they can set on the path to greater inclusion by interacting and acknowledging at the least. This is another provocation that I used around #notspecialneeds

People talk of ākonga being citizens of the future, I believe they are citizens now and truly can make an impact locally and globally. I look forward to finding out who is coming into the project, continuing to develop a path based on social action and starting to co-construct with them a way to “make a difference”, knowing in doing so the rewards are great for all….As a final note, assessment will fall out of this around taking action. However, the evidence will be the on going journey of reflection and action of the ākonga as a portfolio and not be used as the main driver…

Baltodano, M., Darder A., & Torres, R.D. (2003). The Critical Pedagogy Reader. NewYork: RoutledgeFalmer.

Culpan, I., & Bruce, J. (2007). New Zealand Physical Education and Critical Pedagogy: Refocussing the curriculum. International Journal of Sport and Health Science 5: 1-11.

Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Sheed and Ward Ltd.

Gillespie, L., & Culpan, I. (2000). Critical thinking: Ensuring the “education” aspect is evident in physical education. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, 33(3), 84-96.

McLaren (2007). Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ross, B. (2001). Visions and Phantoms: Reading the New Zealand Health and Physical Education Curriculum. Journal of physical education New Zealand, 34(1).

Sparkes, A.C. (1996). Research in physical education and sport: Exploring alternativevisions. London: Falmer Press.


“Future for our students” and some thinking on N.C.E.A…

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 12.44.07 PM

Much is written about the future of work, where society is heading and what the education system to support this, will need to be. Here are a few opinion pieces on changing work…

In addition here is work from the OECD looking at Education towards 2030…

“Future of Education and Skills: Education2030

Globalisation, technological innovations, climate and demographic changes and other major trends are creating both new demands and opportunities that individuals and societies need to effectively respond to.

There are increasing demands on schools to prepare students for more rapid economic and social change, for jobs that have not yet been created, for technologies that have not yet been invented, and to solve social problems that have not been anticipated in the past.

One may argue it is still some time away to think of 2030 but this is the world in which those who are beginning primary school today will start their professional careers and those who are in secondary school today will become the core group of the prime working age. The project “Future of Education and Skills: Education2030” will target school education, both general and vocational, while recognising the importance of learning progressions and a life-long learning continuum”.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 12.51.10 PM

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 12.51.18 PM

At a National level we have looking for change towards… Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 12.55.38 PM.png

All of this work shows the paradigm shifts that are occurring in the potential future of work. At the same time we have had a shift in assessment practice in New Zealand, however, this has been evolving for some time and the speed of evolution is not keeping up with what may be required in the future by our students as they leave the “Secondary Education System”. It is pertinent to reflect on the time line of the development of N.C.E.A.

NCEA timeline

The following summarised timeline shows how NCEA has evolved:

  • Late 1997, the New Zealand Government announced a policy called ‘Achievement 2001’, involving a complete overhaul of the secondary school qualifications system. Under the new system, students would be assessed at three, or possibly four, levels of the same qualification, to be called the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, which would be registered on the National Qualifications Framework.
  • In 2000, the start date for the new qualification was delayed a year, to 2002, because the system was deemed to be not ready, either at school level or at central agency level.
  • In 2002, NCEA Level 1 was introduced and the first group of students and teachers began to experience the new qualification.
  • Over 2003 and 2004, Levels 2 and 3 were introduced, and also the separate Scholarship examination, which was registered on the Framework at Level 4, but whose content was derived from the Level 3 standards.
  • As each level was introduced, the previous qualification at that level was discontinued, except the Year 12 qualification, Sixth Form Certificate, which was allowed to continue for a further two years by schools that were not ready to move to Level 2 in 2003.
  • In September 2004, the Minister of Education, Hon. Trevor Mallard, announced at a PPTA Annual Conference, that there would be a low-key review of the NCEA system during 2005, to inform strategic planning of future work to refine the qualification system.
  • By the end of 2004, the qualification was firmly entrenched in New Zealand schools, and the first phase of implementation was complete.
  • In November 2006, a new-look Record of Learning and Result Notice was developed.
  • In 2007, a suite of improvements to the NCEA were announced by the Minister of Education. Among the first to be announced in July was NCEA certificate endorsement designed to recognise student achievement at Merit or Excellence level across all learning areas. In November, ‘Managing National Assessment’ reports for secondary schools were made available online.
  • From the beginning of 2008, full-time moderators took up their appointments as part of a process to increase the amount of internally assessed student work undergoing moderation (approximately 10%).
  • Reporting of Not Achieved results was introduced for internally assessed standards, and in March, a new monitoring process was announced, which would compare internal and external assessment data for NCEA.
  • In April 2008 , the Record of Learning was renamed Record of Achievement, to better reflect its purpose. In May, random selection of internally assessed student work for external moderation was introduced, to increase public confidence in the credibility of internal assessment.
  • In June 2008, the process began to review and align standards with the new New Zealand Curriculum (developed by the Ministry of Education) and address issues such as credit parity and duplication. Newly aligned standards are due to be introduced progressively, with level 1 standards first, in 2011.
  • In May 2009, new-look statistics pages were released on the NZQA website, including data based on participation, gender and ethnicity.
  • In July 2009, consultation was completed on the draft level 1 standards and draft level 1-3 subject matrices. New rules on further assessment opportunities for internally assessed standards were introduced in July 2009, allowing one further assessment opportunity (re-sit) per student per standard per year.
  • In April 2010, Education Minister Anne Tolley announced the introduction of Course Endorsement for NCEA, to begin in 2011.  Course Endorsement enables students with strong performances in individual courses to gain Excellence or Merit endorsements in those courses.  Students will receive an Excellence endorsement for a course if they gain 14 credits at Excellence level, while students gaining 14 credits at Merit (or Merit and Excellence) will gain a Merit endorsement.  To ensure students are capable of performing well in both modes of assessment, in most courses at least three of the 14 credits must be from internally assessed standards, and three from externally assessed standards.

Much of this evolution has been tweaking. In contrast the development of the New Zealand Curriculum shows a different timeframe…


New Zealand curriculum – draft 2006–2007

The timeline for consultation and implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum: Draft 2006–2007 is:



Draft New Zealand Curriculum (English medium) published for consultation and feedback. (Feedback must be returned by 30 November 2006.)


Independent survey carried out to gauge penetration and understanding.


Independent focus groups.

30 November

All feedback and consultation completed.


Draft Te Marautanga o Aotearoa published.


Proposed release of the revised New Zealand curriculum.


Final Te Marautanga o Aotearoa published.


Implementation of the two partnership documents: the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

You can see that the assessment was developed and implemented before the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). For this reason, is it really a surprise that in many schools in New Zealand Assessment continues to drive the teaching and learning. Even when the standards were aligned to the NZC half way through the timeline, there was really only shifts in semantics of standards rather than the actual outcomes themselves.
The NZC is applauded internationally for its future focus-see this article…
The challenge is not what the New Zealand Curriculum offers, the challenge is what are the intended and actual outcomes for teaching and learning in our classrooms across the country? In addition what are the intended and actual outcomes for the assessment aligned to this? If, of course, the horse comes before the cart.
This overview of the NZC shows why our curriculum document is applauded for it’s future focus…
Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 1.24.05 PM
I personally have a strong belief that what you assess, is what you value. Currently for most Secondary Schools, the major aspect of assessment falls from N.C.E.A and the Achievement Standards that align to this document. The limitation of this assessment system as I see it is that the Achievement standards align to this aspect of the curriculum.
Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 1.28.54 PM
Many of the aspects of our curriculum that are applauded as “future focus” come from other parts of our curriculum document such as, the “key competencies”, “values” and “vision”. While there has been a shift in curriculum documents and assessment towards some aspects of these “socio-critical discourses” the intended and actual outcomes of this can differ greatly (I went deeper into this in my own research).
If the future of work is looking more towards skills and dispositions than content knowledge, how are we collecting and curating evidence of this?
Some schools have placed a real value on dispositions that align to the NZC such as the Hobsonville Habits from Hobsonville Point Secondary School.
Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 1.41.19 PM
Where the habits are taught explicitly and reflections occur that evidence learning against these…
or the awesome work that Liz and her team have done with real world, authentic projects that make a difference in the community. All aligned to the school vision and values…
Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 1.44.26 PMScreen Shot 2018-02-11 at 1.45.12 PM

For all the amazing teaching and learning, there is still a search through N.C.E.A to find assessments that may align. For example here are three different examples of standards aligned in different curriculum areas, that have a different focus…

Health 2 AS91237 2.3

Take action to enhance an aspect of people’s well-being within the school or wider community.

Physical Education 1 AS90969 1.8

Take purposeful action to assist others to participate in physical activity.

Social Studies 2 AS91282 2.4

Describe personal involvement in a social action related to rights and responsibilities

If taking an action in our community, is an outcome that we want for our students, that aligns explicitly to the NZC Vision as well as schools own vision…

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 1.57.25 PM

Reach for the sky! Whaia te iti kahurangi

At Hobsonville Point Secondary School we believe in empowering young people with the skills to contribute confidently and responsibly in our changing world.

Then wouldn’t the ideal situation for aligning Curriculum, Assessment and Pedagogy, to be one where there are more generic standards, that do not sit in the subject silos, with specific contexts required to be used… should the context be more personalised, as is the case in our projects that use student voice and choice for what actions will be. Evidence could be collected over time in any context or several contexts and then this could be used to make judgements against the standards. Portfolios where the teaching and learning of relevant contexts to the students are collated over time. With generic standards of more future focussed skills and dispositions.

These standards would be better aligned to the wider NZC. Another example of this can be seen in this standard…

Physical Education 1 AS90966 1.5

Demonstrate interpersonal skills in a group and explain how these skills impact on others.

While this appears to be generic the Explanatory notes state that the interpersonal skills must be in a physical activity context. If the outcome that we want for our students for their future is interpersonal skills, why must it be in this context? Could any teaching and learning be aligned to this outcome? If yes, why is it sitting in a subject silo, with a specified context. This is compartmentalising learning. Not to take away from Physical Education and the development of interpersonal skills within physical activity, more to highlight this can be achieved in many contexts, for example impact projects that are taking action in a local community.

Could the Hobsonville Habits shown above, become generic outcomes for standards that students evidence overtime in portfolios? If these are the attributes that our whānau and employers are looking for, how do we value these outcomes as much as the high stakes outcomes currently in place in the N.C.E.A? There are still many knowledge and content based standards? If knowledge is ever changing, why are we assessing this? Can there be a shift towards skills and dispositions in our assessment system?

Such as these…


If there were more generic standards, would it allow there to be a power shift from the University end of things. Where, there is a hierarchy of knowledge and valued knowledge by curriculum area. Where universities still have a hold over the pathways that are occurring particularly at Level 3. Generic research standards, problem solving standards and more….

It is good to see that N.C.E.A is being reviewed this year,

It is also good to see people on the advisory group that will bring some outside perspectives on what N.C.E.A can be.

At the same time they need to talk to schools that are pushing back on over assessment, that are trying to minimise over assessment and assessment driven programmes. That are personalising learning as the future of work documents talk to. That are taking action in their communities, while still working the constraints of the current system, that I have mentioned above. See the article below on this and what Maurie and HPSS have been pushing.

Also see RNZ Interview here…

Only then can we truly align curriculum, assessment and pedagogy to ensure personalised and best outcomes for our students to face the future coming their way….

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 2.23.08 PM.png








Ākonga making a difference through powerful partnerships.

Heal the World
Michael Jackson
There’s a place in your heart
And I know that it is love
And this place could be much
Brighter than tomorrow
And if you really try
You’ll find there’s no need to cry
In this place you’ll feel
There’s no hurt or sorrow
There are ways to get there
If you care enough for the living
Make a little space
Make a better place
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make it a better place
For you and for me….
 IMG_2617 (1)
The words of Michael Jackson are a good place to start and set the scene for this reflection…So much in the world and the media about what is wrong with the world, with society, with the future focused New Zealand Curriculum having the following vision, values, key competencies and more…
Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 10.46.31 AM
Focusing in on the vision …”Young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners”.
So how is this been enacted in our schools? Within schools own contexts how is the vision being played out? I want to share some of the partnerships we have at Rototuna High Schools to show this in our context…Let’s focus on the good stuff happening.

More specifically our Mission statement is...

“Empower our people to be connected, collaborative, community-minded learners inspired to soar”.

From our website


The land on which the schools are to be built is approximately 11 hectares in size (before building). The site is located to the north-west of Te Totara Primary School and adjoins a portion of the designation for the Waikato Expressway near North City Road and Horsham Downs Road.

In Pre-European times, the area around the school was a peat lake named Tunawhakapeke. The lake and surrounding swamps were a source of abundant resources such as tuna (eel) and harakeke (flax) for early Māori and of course the kāhu is a prominent bird in our area and is our school emblem. The kāhu (or swamp harrier) was regarded as good luck if it was seen flying overhead during a tribal meeting and we hope that it brings us the same luck too. It is also a bird that soars high and represents the high aspirations we have for our students and community too. Parts our branding and uniform also feature orange as one of it’s colours and this is reference to kokowai (paint pigment) that was produced from the iron oxide present in the rich peat swamps and gully creeks as the water flowed through them, producing ‘orange’ water commonly seen in creeks in peat areas.

Mana Whenua

First of all connections with Mana Whenua, our local iwi are Tainui and Ngāti Wairere, we are engaging with Mana Whenua across a number of levels.
The naming of our space and place has been completed in conjunction with Ngāti Wairere, right from the beginning our Board of Trustees led by Megan Campbell, worked alongside board member Wiremu Puke from Ngāti Wairere in the naming of our space and place and connections an partnerships have been developed for here…
The importance of connections with Mana Whenua have also been made explicit in our school charter
So how have we as a Kura and the ākonga been going about this?

Connections this year…


The poukai is a ceremonial gathering held on 28 days a year at different marae or ceremonial centres supporting the Kïngitanga, or Mäori King Movement, which is largely based within the Tainui confederation of tribes in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island.
Our ākonga and some staff attended this year, the ākonga helped behind the scenes the day before and the day of the visit to the Hukunui Marae, working in the kitchen and the dining areas to prepare the celebratory Kai. Also taking part in the Pōwhiri that you can see in the photos above.


The annual Koroneihana (coronation) commemorations marks the time when King Tuheitia ascended the throne on the 21 August 2006 following the passing of his mother, Te Arikinui Dame Te Ataairangikaahu, who had reigned for 40 years from 23 May 1966.The August celebrations are expected to be the biggest ever to match the 10 year milestone of King Tuheitia’s reign also paying tribute and remembering his mother. Koroneihana attracts hundreds of visitors nationally and internationally to Turangawaewae Marae in Ngaruawahia, for the week long celebrations.It brings together iwi from across the motu (country) who support the Maori kingship movement which emerged in the 1850s as a symbol of unity. Throughout the week visitors and iwi members will take part in political debates on matters important to the Kingitanga and to Maoridom. Cultural performances, sports competitions, education expo and other festivities also take place. Koroneihana is one of the key events on the Māori calendar.


This has just occurred an Matua Anaru Keogh took some of our Tuakana to work behind the scenes in the kitchen at Turangawaewae Marae once more…IMG-0266

“Wairere worry project”

“Wairere worry project” looked to connect further with Mana Whenua earlier in the year, meeting with the Marae committee at Hukunui to see whether students could help take action to sustain the culture at Hukunui, to paint garden upkeep, support as required….

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 11.40.39 AM

Communication did break down here and students had to shift their focus to helping sustain the culture at Rototuna, by supporting our Kapa Haka group. The Kapa Haka rōpu led my Matua Anaru Keogh and Matua Robbie Moore represented our Kura at the Tainui regionals this year, this was a massive achievement with the rōpu turning around a performance in one term of intensive mahi with Year 7-11 to compete against well established rōpu from kura with mainly Year 12 and 13 akonga. To say we were proud is an understatement. The project worked behind the scenes to support, as we are a new rōpu we had no uniforms-kakahu to wear. Here is some photos of our project making muka and dying to help make the Maro our bys would wear, supported by our Tumuaki Natash who can make Maro.

Here you can see the actual finished product of Maro and a few other Kapa Haka pics…


Te Rapa R Us Project

Another partnership making a difference in our kura is the Te Rapa R Us project, linking in with the Te Rapa Unit here at school. we have a satellite class on site. A group of ākonga came up with the idea of making a difference and developing inclusion at our school, to sustain the links between Te Rapa and RHS. Ākonga have planned budgeted and developed a programme for this and have lead activities including, cooking, art, technology-puzzle development with sketch up and MDF, PE and more…See some visuals below…


Taking action with Te Totara Primary

Active Community impact project have been building their leadership skills by sharing their sports knowledge with ākonga at Te Totara primary.

Bee cool Project

We have a project at school that has developed a partnership with pacific coast technical institute. This project is helping ākonga to gain qualifications that will allow them to be employed in the Apiary industry, which is a fast growing industry in NZ. In addition we have another project also working in conjunction with PCTI to gain qualification aligned to the Fruit growing industry. See some of the ākonga taking advantage of their learning through this partnership.

These are just a few examples, I do believe we are are still learning as we go, but I think it is important to share ways that Kura can help their ākonga to make a difference and know we are on the way to ensure here at Rototuna through our powerful partnerships we…

Empower our people to be connected, collaborative, community-minded learners inspired to soar.

Crash “testing” dummies…shifting assessment.

I like to use the metaphor of a crash “testing” dummy when it comes to assessment in Education. This is part of my thinking on my leadership inquiry involving building assessment capability. Therefore, this blog is part of my evidence and reflection.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 9.59.45 AM.png

Most educators I know are passionate practitioners, who want the teaching and learning and pedagogy that underpins it to be akonga/student centred. To start with the akonga/student and to for learning to be supported, scaffolded, guided by them and their colleagues. If we think of the New Zealand Curriculum as the road, the journey, the potential pathways for our akonga. The road can be travelled at different speeds, different routes, stops and starts along the way. We are lucky to have a curriculum that is innovative and future focussed, allows for different interpretation and different ways to travel along the way dependent on the needs of our akonga. Our beautiful country can be seen as the learning that occurs along the way.

So what is the issue? or is there an issue? Many would say that we have NCEA as a handbrake, many critique NCEA as a being handbrake. Not just NCEA, many would say assessment is a handbrake to any level of education. What if it is seen that our students are travelling the journey of their education but along the way we keep putting up these obstacles and walls along the way.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 9.47.56 AM.png

Some students stop in time, get over or around the obstacle and achieve credits for NCEA /pass assessments and continue on their journey. Some crash into the wall and come back for another go, some don’t ever recover from the crash. What are we doing as educators, are we just preparing them to crash and dodge at certain points along the way? Can we think about this differently? Are there ways to manipulate assessment and build assessment capability in all to ensure that this is not the case. So that we are not just churning out credits and stopping the journey of learning along the way?

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 9.56.32 AM.png

What if we can get teachers and students to see and treat the learning journey differently, gather the journey as they go and not to have so many walls, end points and obstacles in the way. Not to have final summative tasks. Not to drive a route along the way in our country and have to recount exactly where they have been in a test before they move to the next point. What about curating evidence as they go, of where they have been, show their understanding at the time as they go on their journey, while it is relevant, while they are amongst it. They do that on facebook, instagram and other social media, excited about what they are up to and wanting to share.

So what if students track their own journey, share their learning along the way, we as educators can helps support that, with maps, ideas on where to go, we can be along for the ride in the car too. We can be the co-driver for our students, taking the wheel when needed and letting them drive as well. A metaphor is all well and good but what am I actually talking about and what are some systems that have been put in place to help this?

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 9.19.00 AM

At Rototuna we are in the middle of a journey, trying to take control of the wheel, while still letting our akonga drive. We are trying to shift to assessments for NCEA that do not take over the journey, we are trying to gather evidence in an on-going way so that the process of learning and the evidence that falls out of this is valued over the final outcome. We are still learning around this, it is taking for some shifts and building of assessment capability across the board, for our staff and our akonga.

Some of the things we have had to look at are…

NCEA-How does that work here?

Here is a presentation that we have taken our akonga and community through along the way, in regards to a two year level 2 NCEA programme, the Why? and How?


Collecting evidence in a variety of modes along the way

  • Video evidence
  • Verbal evidence
  • Written evidence
  • Collated scaffolded documents
  • Blogging as evidence
  • Google sites/websites collating the learning journey

We have unpacked these types of evidence in PLD and looked at positives and negatives as well as possibilities of each mode.

Such as…

PLD around modes…


Assessment Task Development

We have looked at how to develop our own tasks for NCEA that ensure we are allowing for portfolios of evidence, while still ensuring we meet the requirements of the standards and allow learners the opportunity to achieve the standard, with fair, valid reliable and robust tasks.

Such as…

Developing NCEA Assessment Tasks.jpg

Copy of Task Process visual arts 1.5

Also developing exemplars of tasks to help support staff and documentation to support this…

Copy of Internal Moderation Documentation

So these previous parts show some of the systems that need to be in place to enable a shift in assessment practice. In addition to this, I am also lucky enough to be a part of a team with Paula Wine-Deputy Principal in the Junior High focussing on teachers inquiring into their own practice on assessment capability, also inquiring into building assessment capability in their akonga and looking at evidence of impact on positive student outcomes. As a whole school, we have aligned our three Professional Learning Groups (PLGs) to our strategic goals. Teachers have opted into one of the PLGs that have the foci of…

  • Māori achieving success as Māori
  • Student agency
  • Assessment Capabilty

We are underway with the PLGs and staff are focusing into areas of interest… aspects that are being looked at include…

  • Learning focussed relationships
  • Quality feedback-feed forward
  • Assessment for learning/assessment as learning
  • Use of rubrics/solo/etc…
  • Development of exemplars? WAGOLLs -What a good one looks like!
  • Effective Learning Intentions and Success criteria
  • Making Learning visible
  • Exploring modes of assessment
  • Student agency in assessment
  • Teaching your students how to give themselves and others feedback (assessment capable learners)
  • Impact of previewing on learning progress
  • Teaching ‘learning to learn’ strategies (ASK)
  • Exploring how SOLO taxonomy can help students reflect & differentiate your feedback
  • and more…

Some exciting stuff that I look forward to seeing grow in their inquiries and also supporting and learning from along the way….

Supported with reading and learning such as…

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 11.00.36 AM.png

All of this is being scaffolded along the way by Arinui and just as we are wanting with our NCEA, teachers are collecting their evidence in an on-going way…

Reporting Practice

In addition to this, the other thing that we have been developing alongside this is also a shift in reporting practice…

Here is an overview of this process….


We are ensuring that reporting is not something happening at the end of semesters, when no shifts can be made to students learning and achievement. We have a process of teachers giving feedback on curriculum levels and CLOAK Values before the middle of the semester. Teachers also write comments that are blind and not proofed on where students are at and where to next. The Kaiārahi (advisors) then collate all the feedback, feed forward and conference the small group of students that they have in their whānau (advisory). This occurs and is sent out mid semester and gives times for students to act on feedback and improve on their achievement.

This is an exemplar of the Kaiārahi conference from Semester one:

Exemplar Kaiārahi Conference (1)

The criteria for CLOAK Values that we also report on were co-constructed with our students in our whānau time.


Students are also tracking their own achievement in NCEA and looking to align this with vocational pathways, so that achievement is not just sitting in silos.

Here is an example of this…


So my take on things at the end of this is, if we don’t want NCEA driving things, if we want to be responsive to our students and value the process of learning over final outcomes, or rather make the final outcome the process of learning, there needs to be supports, scaffolds and building of assessment capability for our staff and our students. In addition, this is ideally through inquiry, is informed by research and measures improved student outcomes. So let’s shift it, sit alongside our students, look at quality not quantity and push those walls out the way…..


Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 9.19.00 AM

Update on our Waka journey at RSHS/RHS…

Ko te waka mātauranga he waka eke noa…

We are all on a new journey here at RSHS and that journey is also interlinked with our colleagues at RJHS. In some ways if we were to use the metaphor of the waka, these visuals help. It is like working in a two hulled waka, where all need to focus not only on themselves and their learning, but also all those others in the waka as well. I should note this is speaking from experience of being the highly functional waka team on Waikato te awa for our team building day with local Tainui….or maybe we had some learning to do on our rhythm!!

This is pertinent to my reflections as I believe this also aligns to our development as a school, you do need to think about what your role is in the team but also about everyone else that is paddling away at the same time (or not).

Well I do feel lucky to be a part of a journey from the ground up for a second time after working previously as a foundation staff member at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. It is from this previous journey that I do recognise that building the plane as you fly it, is not always easy. I think we need to open and honest about that as educators, so that others can see that second order change is not always smooth sailing.

Here is the SLT that I am a part of…


Working alongside our Tuamaki/Principal Natasha Hemara who came previously form being deputy principal at Southern Cross Campus. Natasha is a highly student centred educator with a moral purpose to make a difference, she is good strategic thinker, who is steering our waka, while allowing others to lead along the way…and my fellow Tuamaki Tuarua/DP Megan Barry, who comes from Waitakere College, where she was the Assistant Principal. Meg is a good systems thinker and brings experience of working with PLD, Helath and Safety, policies and more…We are extremely luck to be a part of this journey and have some awesome colleagues that we are working alongside across our school. I will explain some of the teams and functions within our school in this blog, to give you insight into our place. Below you can see the Senior Exec that sits across RHS.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 11.15.32 AM

Fraser, Paula, Mel and Gareth have a huge job on their hands and have done so since their school hit the ground running last year. I am in awe their whole school has developed in such a short time frame, with an intensive around 1000 students across four years in their second year of being up and running. Often new schools have time to bring a cohort through from the start and develop along the way. In contrast they have had all year levels from the get go. We are lucky enough to bring through our first cohort into Year 11 this year and develop as we go…If I am to be honest that does bring a slight guilt that we do have time. However, it is what it is and what has been put in place, so not to dwell on this, we should be grateful and do the best for our students to create an environment of Mana Motuhake (high expectations) while still building those relationships and whānaungatanga… Even though we have small numbers, that does not mean that we do not have to have systems and processes up and running. In addition, even though we have a small cohort of 100, we are doing things a bit differently and we still need to ensure we have cohesion between the schools, while still building our path with input from our team.

So that you can get a feel for our place of RHS across the board, I always feel visuals set the scene for the culture being created…

Above is some photos from sports day, the quality photos are care of the amazing RJHS photographer Anna Pratt!!

Those above are our students across RHS, linking in with our Mana whenua, Tainui and Ngati Wairere at the Hukunui Marae for the Kingitanga celebration of the Pokai. Our students were awesome, helping set tables and work in the kitchen and Ngati Wairere are excited about on-going links with our school. In addition I feel lucky to be working with a project group taking action to help ensure that the culture and environment is sustainable for the local Marae. See a few photos below…

The projects at school are being led by Chris Langley a passionate Social Scientist who came to us from Fairfield College. Chris has been doing an amazing job of leading projects and is helping to build the capability of all our staff to sit along side students in their project learning journey. I am grateful I get to continue working with projects, as I truly believe that project based learning is authentic, real world learning that is engaging and meaningful. Taking action is one of the focuses for us as a school and I believe that this also helps social and emotional learning and growth of empathy.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 11.34.35 AM

In addition to projects we have our team of Kaihautū and Kaiurangi helping to support and lead the whānau programme at our school. Similar to the advisory model at RJHS and also at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Philisophically drawing on the ideas of the big picture schools. The importance of this model within our school cannot be underestimated, with a focus on the whole student/ākonga. We have Anna Marie Keighley and Andrew Marshall  leading and steering the Waka around this aspect, supported closely by Hannah Lerke and Chris Scarlett. All of the staff are developing strong warm and demanding (care of Maurie) relationships with their ākonga and the valuing of these relationships has been acknowledged by our staff, students, whānau and is helping develop the culture on the ground.

So that you can put a name to the face here is some of our awesome crew…

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 11.44.40 AM

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 11.44.50 AM

Other responsibilities across our team include the SCL’s who are the Specialised Curriculum Leaders, these are Vicki Ladd-English, Anna-Marie Keighley HPE, Shannon Brown-Performing Arts, Jenny Mangan-Technology, Jatin Bali-Science, Lianne Moore-Visual Art, Chris Langley-Social Science andAndrew Marshall-Mathematics. All of the innovative leaders are pushing boundaries to engage students in connected real world learning, while ensuring Academic and personal excellence for our ākonga.

We also have Jatin and Jordan working with Natasha and Meg on PLD and this is being developed as we fly the plane. There is a slight tension here and one we need to work through as a group of educators and a waka team. We want the PLD to be responsive and personalised for our staff, which Arinui does allow for in terms of reflection and action. However, we also have systems and processes being developed that need to be shared by all if we are to enact our vision. My hope is that we can reflect and act in an on-going way and be responsive to our staff, students and community. In addition to this Jatin is leading the school relief system alongside Louise at RJHS.

Vicki is leading literacy in the school, so that it is not seen to sit inside the silo of English and is seen as the responsibility of all educators. Vicki also brings a wealth of knowledge form her time at Ngaruawahia High School, on pathways and doing things differently and has been a past PN so has a good understanding of tracking our learners. Bijendra wears a similar hat for numeracy, with strengths in physics and mathematics to bring to the fore.

Jason Sharma is leading e-learning and he brings his “blue” thinking (Hermann’s Brain) to the table supporting Megan with timetabling. We have quite a few other techy people in the school, thinking about the pedagogy of why as well as how to use tech. These include, Jordan (A mind lab graduate), Chris, Anna-Marie and many more…

We also have Matua Anaru, leading the way in developing tikanga and understanding within our staff. He and Robbie, Nadine, Amy, Mel and I are working with Manaaki Tauira and Anaru is also working alongside Robbie to work with the ever growing Kapa Haka group.

Matua Robbie started the way with the huge focus on Haka Pōwhiri last year, see the video here…

In addition we have Amie Kiely, Susan Hill (inclusive learning) , Chris Scarlett (sport), Paula Moneypenney (guidance) and David Green (pathways) working as a wrap around service with our ākonga across RHS.

We are lucky to be in a new environment but again it all comes back to the pedagogy..

ILE Infographic showing this

I am lucky to be in this position, I want to acknowledge the awesome work of my RJHS colleagues in paving the way down here. If the waka starts to go crooked, or we get out of time (which I actually do acknowledge happened to my crew on Waikato te awa that day). Also metaphorically speaking, we are needing to do this for our staff and across both schools and hope we are doing this through the water cooler that we are hoping opens dialogue around concerns or worries. Then we all need to support each other, to find balance and find our rhythm again. To do this we need to all listen to each other, be responsive to each other and know that we are all in this together….

Creative spaces between… Curriculum, assessment and pedagogy…


This blogpost is a long time coming… I have had my head buried in some deep thinking around the potential of what can be…I have had one term in my new position as Deputy Principal at Rototuna Senior High School in Hamilton and my learning has been provoked through multiple aspects of my role and also through digging deeper to the “why”…

I am developing new relationships after my shift from HPSS half way through the year, relationships with my SLT team of Natasha Hemara (Principal) and Megan Barry (Deputy Principal). Relationships with new colleagues at Rototuna Junior High School including Fraser Hill (Principal), Melissa Moore(Deputy Principal) and Paula Wine (Deputy Principal). With a real drive and want for alignment and cohesion across our two schools, working alongside the other awesome staff at the Junior High School has been a special time, for watching and learning from others on their own new journeys. Starting to develop relationships with the akonga (students) especially the Year 10 that we have been working with, before their transition to RSHS next year. An opportunity for real transition and using the learning the rest of the staff have had in developing their relationships with the students this year. The deep understanding of their learners the staff have developed through their advisory model and innovative teaching and learning programmes.

At the same time we have been digging deeper to the why???

Using both this work by Julia Aitken and this work by Simon Sinek…

We have only started this process as we wish to co-construct this further with our staff next term as we work from Beliefs and Values to Principles and Practices. Always coming back to the why… this again will only be part of it as we need student voice in this process as well, we aim not to do education to, but with our akonga…something that has been reiterated in the #ulearn16 twitter feed today…, especially from what I could see on the panel from Rose Hipkins and Michael Fullan etc…

Here is an example of our digging deeper…

Another thing I have noted in the #ulearn16 feed is talk of challenging the system, working the system, focussing on the NZC and the potential it has for our akonga…not allowing assessment to drive things…

This is an area of passion and interest of mine that I looked at in my thesis

This is where the alignment of curriculum, assessment and pedagogy is a must, starting with our akonga, placing them at the centre, giving them voice and in turn power with choices of contexts, passions, interests and aligning teaching and learning programmes and assessment to this. Capturing evidence of learning in an on-going way, making learning visible and valuing the process of learning over final outcomes…

I have had this well and truly affirmed after our recent trip to USA and Canada, looking to base any learning, reflection and action on research and evidence of best practice… see the blog Natasha has been writing to inform our community of our learning…
This blog shows depth of reflection into each of our visits to the self-directed schools in Canada and the two “High Tech Highs” in the USA. What I would now like to focus on is the potential for truly aligning curriculum, assessment and pedagogy… Making learning visible and the importance of exhibitions to show both process and outcomes of learning.

Here are a few examples of exhibitions of learning that included process and outcomes that we saw at High Tech High (both Point Loma and Chula Vista campuses).


I could go on showing you more and more examples, the students and the teachers truly walked the walk of authentic, real world learning. Often the essential question had aspects of social justice as the drivers and provokers for deep learning, reflection and action. Exhibitions were used as a way to show this learning process and the amazing students that showed us around at both campuses, talked to the use of multiple modes to show their depth of understanding in other ways. While you see mainly work on the walls, when students exhibit they talk to the learning process and what occurred, happened and shifted along the way. Outcomes were often about the action that took place during the process as well. At High Tech High they talk to this being project based learning, which we are looking to have as part of our curriculum at RSHS. This type of authentic learning and the process of exhibitions and presenting took place right from the elementary level of school. The students that showed us around were highly articulate at explaining the process and outcomes of learning they had been involved in.


All of these exhibitions involved at least two curriculum areas that were being integrated along the way. Where teachers collaborated even if teaching took place in different classrooms. This sparked deeper thinking for the potential for more that two curriculum areas working together and evidence falling out as it may. This happened at HPSS (where I was prior) where big concepts were found across the NZC and where teachers collaborated in modules to of two to three curriculum areas. Subject specialists were teaching to threshold concepts that they had back mapped from the NZC and aligned carefully in a scaffolded way towards NCEA. You will see I have recorded a lot of reflection on this and linked to many others at HPSS back further in my blog.

BUT what if…essential questions derived through a process of project based learning could go wider, allow more curriculum areas to be covered and to emerge. What if….the learning process and exhibitions were developed by students, driven by students, scaffolded and supported by teachers… what if teachers with their “subject expert hat on” then looked at what learning has arisen, gave feedback and feed forward to where students could head next…what if teachers with their understanding of clarifications documents and EN’s of standards could “see” what was falling out of the learning naturally… or students who look at standards they think they may be covering and directing questions at teachers to clarify, dig deeper, gather further evidence where required. Teachers then giving feed forward to support deep learning as well as making sure that authentic and rigorous assessment occurs. Allowing authentic assessment that calls for community partnerships, taking action and presenting and exhibiting learning. Assessment would no longer be the driver, it would not be ignored, it would be manipulated by subject experts amd students, working the system to not having a standards driven curriculum, but a student driven curriculum, with authentic and rigorous outcomes. Where the NZC could be used to its true potential, where social action, making a difference could not only take place, but be valued. I believe it can be done, it is not easy, there are institutions that need to be broken, but challenging the status quo is the only way to truly give the power back to akonga. To put them in the drivers seat, to allow them to see connections and for us as kaiako (teachers) to support, scaffold and be the assessment experts who can make the assessment process transparent for our akonga. So students know where they at and where to next, while still digging deeper and being challenged, using their passions, interests and voice in the process. We need to “use the creative spaces between…curriculum, assessment and pedagogy”.

He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata from Sally Hart on Vimeo.

I made this video at the end of the term. The visuals are a summary of my time at HPSS. I have recorded many posts along the way reflecting and acting in an on-going way.

The whakataukī…
“He aha te mea nui o te ao, He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” is the main thing I will take with me.

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people.

I am already missing the students and colleagues who became a big part of my life, in all honesty, I could not really talk about how much they all mean to me, so I used photos and a video as a way of showing this. I did talk to this at my farewell assembly… I am just starting a new journey as Deputy Principal at Rototuna Senior High School. I hope to continue recording and reflecting on my new journey here….

My girls are starting their new journeys as well as their new schools…

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 6.50.41 PM

Also check out the journey on this blog by Natasha Hemara the Principal of Rototuna Senior High School.