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.
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.
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The school accelerates some students in consultation with the Deputy Principal in charge of enrolments and the timetable, the Associate Principal and the relevant Heads of House. The purpose of the acceleration program is twofold:
- To personalise learning and ensure students are fully challenged and extended;
- To generate timetable space in Year 13 for students to pursue multiple Scholarships.
In Year 9 there are accelerated classes in Te Reo Rangatira only. The Te Reo Rangatira class is determined when students enter Waiōrea. Students will usually remain in this accelerated programme as they progress through the school.
During Year 9 Heads of House will identify students who may be offered the opportunity to take one or more 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 the school, the students and their parents. Mathematics currently accelerates students within their Year 10 Mathematics programme by offering some Level 1 standards. This sometimes occurs as well in some option subjects.
In Year 11 and 12 the 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.