Our vision for learning in Senior Primary and Middle School
As in Pre-school and Primary, we maintain our focus upon the child at the center of all we do and our vision of them as capable individuals with ownership and agency over their learning. Our vision of an Aurora Learner is equally applicable for the Middle School children.
However, there are some differences to teaching and learning for these grade levels. Firstly, the children are increasingly independent and eager to research and complete projects alone and in groups. We will allow greater flexibility for them to do this so that they can plan events such as the Spelling Bee, Aurora Olympics, etc. on a bigger scale and engage in more learning outside the classroom in the community to gain more authentic understanding of sustainability and social issues in the local area.
Our curriculum goals for Aurora Middle School and how these relate to other curricular systems
For Senior Primary and Middle School, we will be following the New Zealand curriculum goals more closely. The New Zealand National Curriculum is internationally acclaimed due to its holistic approach and focus on deep and rich learning experiences which engage the children and allow them to develop a broad skills base. Because this is a broad and inclusive curriculum, we will align our learning outcomes with the New Zealand learning targets, something we already do for our Maths and Language Arts learning.
Vision of the NZ National Curriculum
The vision is for young people to be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners.
Values of the NZ National Curriculum
Students are encouraged to value:
- Excellence, by aiming high and by persevering in the face of difficulties
- Innovation, inquiry, and curiosity, by thinking critically, creatively, and reflectively
- Diversity, as found in our different cultures, languages, and heritages
- Equity, through fairness and social justice
- Community and participation for the common good
- Ecological sustainability, which includes care for the environment
- Integrity, which involves being honest, responsible, and accountable and acting ethically, and
- To respect themselves, others and human rights
Competencies are abilities and capabilities that people use to live, learn, work and contribute as active members of their communities.
The New Zealand Curriculum identifies 5 key competencies that it has a focus on children developing throughout their time at school:
- Thinking – is about using thinking processes to make sense of information, experiences and ideas.
- Using language, symbols, and texts – working with, being able to understand, and making sense of the codes (languages and symbols) in which knowledge is expressed.
- Managing self – having self-motivation, a “can-do” attitude, and seeing oneself as a capable learner.
- Relating to others – is about interacting effectively with a range of different people in a range of different situations, including things like being able to listen well, recognise different points of view, and share ideas.
- Participating and contributing – being involved in communities, such as family or school, and be able to contribute and make connections with other people.
There are 8 learning areas (or subject areas) in The New Zealand Curriculum:
- The arts
- Health and Physical education
- Learning languages
- Mathematics and statistics
- Social sciences
The values and competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum are woven into these learning areas. They are designed to encourage enjoyment of learning and the ability to think critically, manage oneself, set goals, overcome obstacles and get along with others – the attributes students need to succeed as adults.
Assessment for the purpose of improving student learning is best understood as an ongoing process that arises out of the interaction between teaching and learning. It involves the focused and timely gathering, analysis, interpretation, and use of information that can provide evidence of student progress. Much of this evidence is “of the moment”. Analysis and interpretation often take place in the mind of the teacher, who then uses the insights gained to shape their actions as they continue to work with their students.
This is also formative assessment, but this actively involves the students in peer and self-assessment and reflection.
There are three broad types of Assessment:
Assessment OF Learning:
This is summative assessment used for reporting. This type of assessment tells you what progress your child has made towards the learning objectives be they knowledge, skills or understanding based.
Assessment FOR Learning:
This is formative assessment used constantly by teachers to gauge where the children are at with their learning so that we can support them and inform future planning to meet their needs and follow their interests.
Assessment AS Learning:
This is also formative assessment, but this actively involves the students in peer and self assessment and reflection.
What will reporting look like?
We will continue to issue mid-year and end of year reports to inform you about your child’s progress. We will also continue to share their digital portfolio with you at the end of the academic year so that you can look back with them on their learning journey.
We will also:
Support the children in building their own portfolios of not only their artworks but also their writing and other project-learning. This will be used for all three assessment purposes outlined on the previous slide.
Provide the children with rubrics and success criteria for key pieces of work so that they can set goals and challenge themselves. These rubrics will be used by the children to plan and carry out their projects, and also by their teachers to assess their learning and share their progress and next steps with you so you can best support them on their learning journey.
What if my child plans to transfer to another school system/country?
- In the middle and at the end of each academic year, the children will receive their PDF reports. If they are leaving Aurora, we will also write them recommendation letters detailing their attendance and attesting to their learning so far. We are happy to coordinate with their future teachers and administrators in sharing information, completing handover forms, etc.
- The Achievement Objectives they work towards under the New Zealand curriculum are broadly similar to the Learning Outcomes of other common curricula such as the British, Australian, and many of the US state systems. The use of inquiry-based learning through CGC aligns with the approaches to learning and skills development they would encounter if joining an international IB or IPC school.
- In years 7-10 under the New Zealand National Curriculum, there are no externally set and moderated examinations. However, we are aware that the children may in the future transfer to curricular systems that introduce formal examinations earlier. We will be working with them to support their study skills such as note-taking, conducting research using correctly cited sources and avoiding plagiarism, and preparing for and sitting more formal written tests.
- In Senior Primary and Middle School, we will continue to send home a variety of texts for the children to read at home, although these will vary in length, subject and difficulty depending upon the individual child’s abilities and interests.
- In Middle School, the children will be engaged in long-term projects and portfolio curation. This will mean that we will ask them to continue their work on these projects outside of the classroom, depending on the deadlines we have agreed together, the scope of the project they have planned, and their passion for the project. For example, they may be monitoring water usage and need to collect data from home, or they may be writing a play and need extra time to finish up the script in time for rehearsals.
- For some children, the teachers may recognise that there are core knowledge or skills areas that would benefit from consolidation and practice beyond the classroom. This is particularly true for language learning as successful mastery of a second or additional language is reliant upon daily practice. It may also be to support a learning goal that the child has set for themselves and agreed with their parents and teachers.
- Because project-based learning is at the heart of Aurora philosophy, the children will be supported in engaging with more complex and large-scale projects. They have already shared ideas about this from a school show to hosting a market, to ongoing collaborations with local NGOs.
- To deepen their connections with the local community and broaden their horizons, we plan to take more excursions next academic year, both short local visits and longer trips. These will be planned to align with their interests and support the learning taking place within the classroom.
- In the next academic year, Aurora would like to offer a range of extra curricular activities to allow the children greater choice. The leadership team are currently in discussions with external providers about the types of activities that are open to us.
- Next year, in order to align with students’ Technology Achievement Objectives and support their development of digital and media literacy, we will be using computers and devices more often. This will not be a replacement for pen and paper, or working together side by side.
- The children are particularly independent and capable in their use of technology due to their experiences of online learning during the Covid 19 pandemic. We would like to build upon these skills by supporting their research skills, critical thinking, and design skills. They will also have practice taking notes in digital form so that they can be easily retrieved and shared. These skills will be necessary for them as they progress into high school and beyond.