Integrated extended whānau-like learning environment

Ako – Year 7-10

The concept of Ako means to teach and to learn and that new knowledge can come out of shared learning experiences.  At Ellesmere College – Te Kāreti o Waihora, Ako is an integrated, shared, culturally-responsive, extended whānau-like learning environment where students investigate concepts and ideas through project based learning.


Our RISE Values, literacy and numeracy are woven throughout learning in Ako, as well as drawing from many other curriculum areas such as Science, Social Studies, Technology, Arts and Physical Education.


Learners spend 16 hours per week in the Ako environment and have access to at least 3-4 teachers in the Ako learning space, one of whom is their Hapori teacher.  This teacher will have a key role in helping learners in their Ako group to manage and track their learning, and provide guidance around ensuring students make informed choices when selecting their Connected Learning Modules.


Our Ako learning teams have been carefully selected to ensure a broad range of curriculum strengths. Feedback from students shows that the vast majority enjoy this approach to learning, while external visiting education professionals have commented on the settled and productive learning environment. There is a robust tracking system in place to track and monitor curriculum coverage through the use of SOLO rubrics and we triangulate this with e-asTTle reading and number data, along with the PACT tool for Mathematics.


"We need to eliminate the existing hierarchy of subjects. Elevating some disciplines over others only reinforces outmoded assumptions of industrialism and offends the principle of diversity. The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and maths all have equal and central contributions to make to a student's education." - Sir Ken Robinson