Learning at Ellesmere College

An all-inclusive educational approach

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire" - W. B. Yeats

In order for us to ensure that our students are leaving Ellesmere College – Te Kāreti o Waihora with a skill set that sets them up to be able to thrive and flourish, we need to ensure that teaching and learning moves away from traditional classroom teaching which is more akin to Victorian Era England than to 21st Century Aotearoa. Our kura provides students with a stimulating environment and the personalised support to enable them to excel both academically and personally.

Our learning design offers a learner-centred, self-directed approach in which students have the opportunity to co-design their learning and develop their passions and interests, while strengthening their critical thinking skills, their ability to communicate effectively using a variety of mediums, learning how to more effectively self-manage their own learning by working to timelines and deadlines, hone their ability to relate to others and work more collaboratively in team dynamics as they positively participate and contribute both within and outside of class. These encompass the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum. Students self-report and track their progress through the use of SOLO Taxonomy and there is increased accountability on junior students as there is the expectation that they present the work they have completed in Ako and Connected Learning Modules to the public at Exhibition Evenings each term.

A full and balanced curriculum

We offer students from Year 7 to Year 13 a comprehensive curriculum, with a range of subjects and an emphasis on academic achievement. Engaging, challenging and enjoyable lessons encourage each student to fulfil their potential.

We take a learning design approach (underpinned by Universal Design for Learning) which puts students at the centre of learning, promotes learner agency and voice, and reflects an inclusive culture in which all students can be socially and educationally involved in a way that meets their individual needs. Teachers work together in teams to focus on collaboration and capacity building, drawing on the strengths of the individuals and teams to better meet the needs of a diverse range of students. Even though junior students will not be in traditional, old-fashioned “subject classes”, they will still cover all curriculum areas through the work they do in Ako and Connected Learning Modules. The learning design approaches we are taking reflects the education sector’s developing understanding of the nature and science of learning with the aim to better prepare our students for a rapidly changing world so they will thrive and prosper now and in the future.

"The world isn't divided up into separate subjects. Subjects are an invention of schooling." - Sir Ken Robinson

Our Whānau House system

Part of how we provide a supportive and caring environment for our students is through our Whānau houses, named after four native New Zealand trees: Rata, Rimu, Kowhai and Totara.

Our whānau system fosters a feeling of belonging in students, and acts as an extended family and support network.

The unique grouping of mixed years encourages mentoring between junior and senior students, giving senior students the opportunity to develop leadership skills, and junior students the ability to form bonds with positive role models.

Encouraging gifted and talented students

We understand that different students need different levels of support, and we are committed to getting to know each student personally and understanding their individual needs and strengths.

Our GATE students are given opportunities to excel through differentiated lessons, mentorship, NCEA scholarships, across-curriculum competitions and individual education plans (IEP) – a combination of input from specialists, teachers and parents.

Supporting special education needs

An element of our all-inclusive ethos is providing a safe and encouraging environment that enables every student to feel positive and confident about learning.

Our students with additional needs are supported with a range of measures, including special assessment conditions, individual instruction, IEP’s and specialist teacher support.

Setting students on the path to success

To prepare our senior students for the wider world and aid their transition into the workplace, we have a strong Gateway Programme at Ellesmere.

As well as helping our students to find work once they’ve finished school, students are given the opportunity of work experience in their final two years with various businesses and organisations in the local community.