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Case Study Three: Hobsonville Point Secondary School

Hobsonville Point is a very new school – established in 2014 so now in just its 4th year. Its roll of 348 (2016) is 65% Pakeha , 12% Maori, 12% Asian and 4% Pasifika. It could be argued that because a brand new school starts from a blank slate that it will look closely at current and even future thinking and build a culture, a curriculum and an education based on current best practice. It seems that this is true of Hobsonville Point. The school has been very well reviewed by ERO who following their 2016 review concluded “Students at Hobsonville Point Secondary School are highly engaged in learning and appreciate the broad range of opportunities they have to grow personally and academically. Leaders and teachers work in partnership with students and their families to provoke thinking and inquiry, and to support personal excellence and growth.”

They have very interesting values and vision statements based on this diagram.  A better copy can be viewed at here:

It is interesting to note that values and vision appear as a kind of starting or end point in the diagram depending on where you start to read. You could read the diagram as the 5 values are all encompassing and everything is derived from these. Alternatively the vision could be the heart of the school and the rest is derived from that. Whatever way you chose to read it this is a powerful values-based conceptual diagram. If you look at the diagram and compare it with the values notions, concepts and ideas table eight of the 15 terms used in the values and habits rings appear in the table.

There are other aspects of the school’s approach that also place high priority on values. One example of this is the Learning Hub concept. Learning Hubs are small groups of no more than 15 students with a Learning Coach. This key person forms strong relationships with, and works in partnership with, students and their families.

The Coach provides a caring environment for academic and pastoral mentoring and guidance, and ensures each student is following a robust, challenging programme. Learners remain with the same Learning Coach for their time at school. The Learning Hub is a time for learners to be exposed to a wide range of ideas, interests, skills and experiences which support their learning. During Learning Hub time students develop skills around learning to learn, and the habits to be successful inquirers and self-directed learners.

The Learning Coach works with students to identify passions and link their interests and needs to their learning. Learners negotiate their LearnPath (personalised learning programme) with their Coach to ensure that what they are learning is relevant to them. The Coach supports and guides students to set and meet challenging learning goals.

Another is the idea of powerful partnerships. These are strong nurturing relationships between learning coach and students and families. Partnerships between business and community and taking action within the community to make a difference is also part of this. Steven Mouldey shows eloquently in some of his posts how this works in action. For example:

https://stevemouldey.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/powerful-partnerships...

https://stevemouldey.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/the-day-we-colonised-...

In his “What is the Essence of Your School” post Steven list five examples of the Powerful Partnerships concepts within his school:

  • Module Partnerships between Learning Areas to amplify learning opportunities
  • Learning Hub Partnerships between students, parents and Learning Coaches
  • Big Project Partnerships between students and community groups
  • Warm and Demanding Partnerships between Critical Friends (Staff member pairings)
  • Our special partnership with Hobsonville Point Primary School and our developing relationships with all our Contributing Schools.

The over all values message one gets from looking at the Hobson Point Secondary school is that they give high priority to the values of caring and empathy. They also place good deal of emphasis on hearing student voices and providing opportunities for individual and personalised programmes for them. The partnership aspect of the school also provides strong links between all aspects of the school life and with the community from parents, to businesses, to community groups, and to local bodies.

Case Study Four: Papakura High School

I will keep this brief as this already a longish post. The South Auckland Papakura High is very different school to Hobsonville Point. It was opened in 1954, so is a well established school. The roll of 635 (2015) is 64% Maori and 25% Pasifika and 8% Pakeha. The school has been a struggling one with poor ERO reports and a falling roll. The ERO report on the school in 2015 concluded “Papakura High School continues a history of poor performance and is not providing a curriculum that adequately promotes student learning. It has a declining roll and experiences challenge in recruiting or retaining effective leaders and staff. Significant further external support is required to provide a positive school culture and improve student achievement.”

However, a remarkable turn around appears to be underway. Under new leadership from the beginning of 2016. The change has been noticed and the Auckland Herald has published a 30 minute documentary of what happen during the first year of John Rohs Principalship. This documentary does not focus on values as such but the values underpinning school life in 2016 comes through clearly.

I strongly encourage readers to view the documentary available at:

http://features.nzherald.co.nz/under-the-bridge/

My thoughts on the strong values that appear very influential in the school under Rohs are:

Rohs has a strong belief in the students. He refuses to accept that the pupils of the school are inferior in anyway. He refuses to give credence to the idea that poor student performance is a result of deficits associated with the Papakura community. He suggests the education approach in the school must be changed to build a sense of hope and belief in students, the school and the community. The documentary shows this process in action.

Three senior students from year 13 play a major part in the documentary. The comments of these students show the high esteem they hold of the Principal. They say things like:

  • It is important how we talk to each other.
  • He is caring and supports us.
  • He is not focussed on being strict, he is positive and encouraging and interested in relationships.
  • He is interested in our cultures and our languages, what we do and how we feel.

They also talk positively about their teachers and mentors. About deep acceptance, a sense of family, of encouragement, support and hope.

If I was asked to evaluate how well this school is living out the 8 values of NZC I would say something like this:

  • Diversity, Equity, Integrity, Respect and Community and Participation – top quality!
  • Excellence, Innovation & Inquiry – making good progress.
  • Environmental sustainability – I can’t tell from the evidence I have at the moment.

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