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Learning

At ‘Springs’ we have created a learning environment that ensures all students have the opportunity to reach their potential. We strive to provide a successful pathway for every student.

Some subjects are compulsory and some are optional. Students are encouraged to participate in many different subject areas – we believe this helps prepare them for the wider world.

Year 9 and 10 students move in core classes through the required curriculum and also some optional classes. This encourages students to build relationships and also provides stability during the first two years. Our junior classes are relatively small and consist of students of mixed ability – we believe every student has different strengths.

Learning at the senior level dovetails with the NCEA Curriculum. This document provides the basis and guide for our learning programmes.

While there is some banding in mathematics and Te Reo Rangatira, there is a strong tradition of mixed ability teaching in the junior school. Our philosophy is that it is important to have high expectations of all students, all of whom we believe to be intelligent in various ways.

Catering for individual needs is achieved in a variety of ways at Western Springs College. Differentiated, individualisation, personalisation, acceleration, enrichment and acknowledging best achievement are all strategies that the school uses.

In addition, the Learning Centre has been designed to help students plug gaps in their learning skills and also to support them in optimising their achievement and developing their study skills. The Learning Centre operates primarily on a self-referral basis, and students are encouraged to make full use of what it can offer. In addition there are a number of subject based homework centres on set nights, a Rumaki homework centre on Wednesdays and a Pasifika homework centre on Mondays.

The school is aware that students learn best when their ‘hauora’ is strong. We encourage students to balance their academic work with the cultural, recreational, social, sporting and whanau activities that maintain their overall well being.

Personalising Learning

Western Springs College/Ngā Puna o Waiōrea has always emphasised the importance of student focussed learning in a mixed-ability environment.

‘Individualised Learning’ has always been an important part of delivering our vision. In recent years individualisation – teachers modifying opportunities for learning so that different individuals can learn most effectively – has become increasingly important.

The next stage in our development as a school is personalisation. Personalisation is similar to individualisation but when learning is personalised the learner rather than the teacher alone takes responsibility for identifying, modifying and generating opportunities for learning. Personalisation exemplifies ‘ako’, the Māori concept of learning and teaching being a unified process.

The process of ‘Personalised Learning’ is well underway in our feeder schools, and further opportunities for personalisation will be realised with the learning spaces that the our new buildings will offer.

NCEA provides significant opportunities for personalising learning as do our accelerated and enrichment programmes. Personalising learning is an ongoing and gradual process but one which the school believes will optimise students’ success.

Western Springs College/Nga Puna o Waiorea sees assessment as a tool to enable and enhance learning, rather than being an end in itself.  This reflects the commitment to assessment for learning practices that are common to our primary and intermediate feeder schools.

Formative assessment helps learners reflect on their own learning in specific tasks, modify their approach and product, and optimise their achievement.  Summative assessment gives a snapshot of what a student is capable of at a particular point, or comments on their learning dispositions (e.g. effort, organisation and conduct) at a particular point.  Student, peer, and teacher formative and summative assessment are all valuable tools in enhancing learning.

The school is committed to further developing assessment practices that acknowledge students’ best achievement.  Acknowledging Best Achievement means optimising opportunities for students to fully demonstrate what they are capable of and not letting the structure of assessment obscure that.  NCEA lends itself to this approach.
Acknowledging Best Achievement practices include:

  • alternative modes of assessment (e.g. speeches, videos or PowerPoints might be an alternative to a written format);
  • provision for special assessment conditions (e.g reader/writers in exams);
  • ssessment when ready (e.g. allowing some students to sit tests earlier or later than the bulk of the class);
  • multi-leveling (e.g. crediting students at a higher level if a task is completed beyond the level it was designed for);
  • cross-crediting and recognising achievement when it happens in an unexpected place (e.g. when a skill usually associated with one subject area is demonstrated in another);
  • student choice (e.g. where possible, increasing student choice over content and task design in order to maximise engagement).

Please note that the grid provides a guideline only, few students will fit any set of criteria exactly.

 

Engagement Organisation Conduct
Highly Commended
  • Always participates well in individual, pair, and whole-class learning situations.
  • An Independent learner: attempts to problem solve in the first instance but willing to ask for help when necessary.
  • Always completes tasks to the best of their ability.
  • Punctual
  • Always has the correct equipment
  • Completes all homework tasks thoroughly
  • Consistently meets deadlines
  • Always focussed on the task at hand.
  • Always listens actively and respectfully to others.
  • Manages distractions well.
Meeting expectations
  • Participates in most learning situations:individual, pair, group and whole-class.
  • Is becoming an Independent learner: make some attempts to problem solve and will ask for help when necessary.
  • Usually completes tasks to the best of their ability.
  • Punctual
  • Completes all homework tasks
  • Usually has the right equipment
  • Meets most deadlines
  • Generally focussed on the task at hand.
  • Listens respectfully to others.
  • Manages distractions well with some support and prompting.
Needs improvement
  • Participates in some learning situations but makes little attempt to engage in others.
  • Limited attempts to problem solve and either asks for help too readily or does so reluctantly.
  • Completes tasks but not always to the best of their ability.
  • Sometimes arrives late to class
  • Inconsistent with homework completion
  • Frequent reminders needed to bring the correct equipment.
  • Likely to have missed some deadlines.
  • Needs prompting to stay focussed on the task at hand.
  • Struggles to listen respectfully to others.
  • Easily distracted.
Cause for Concern
  • Seldom participates in learning situations.
  • Seldom attempts to problem solve. Requests for help are either very limited or can be unreasonable.
  • Seldom completes tasks.
  • Punctuality is highly variable
  • Seldom has correct equipment
  • Seldom completes homework tasks
  • Likely to have missed many deadlines.
  • Needs monitoring to stay focussed on the task at hand.
  • Seldom listens respectfully to others.
  • Easily distracted and/or distracts others.

The school has always accelerated some students but over recent years has developed a fuller acceleration programme, which is overseen by the Accelerated Learners Coordinator.  The purpose of the acceleration program is threefold:

  1. To personalise learning and ensure students are fully challenged and extended;
  2. To more gradually introduce students to the NCEA system and its demands;
  3. To generate timetable space in Year 13 for students to pursue multiple Scholarships.

In Year 9 there are accelerating classes in Mathematics and Statistics, and in Te Reo Rangatira.  The Maths classes are  constructed at the end of Term 1 following testing and teacher observations during the term.

The Te Reo Rangatira class is determined when students enter the Rumaki.  Students will usually remain in these accelerated classes as they progress through the school.

During Year 9 the Accelerated Learners Coordinator will identify students who will be offered the opportunity to take one or two (and occasionally three) NCEA subjects a year early in Year 10.  A variety of data is used in identifying students, the school has to be convinced that students are emotionally/socially as well as academically ready for acceleration, and the decision has to be agreed to by both  the students and their parents.

In Year 10 all students have the opportunity to take some English and Maths NCEA standards a year early.  This also happens in some option subjects.

In Year 11 and 12 the whole class and individual acceleration set up in Year 9 and 10 continues to progress through the NCEA levels, with students usually completing Level 3 NCEA at the end of Year 12.  Occasionally a students may drop out of the acceleration programme if it is not best meeting their needs.  Some students may enter the programme at a later stage.

In Year 13 all students reduce from six subjects to 5 and have one timetable block for study.  Students who have been accelerated will have additional study times as well and are expected to use this time to take multiple Scholarships and in some cases university papers.

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