Advances in learning and curriculum approach continue in the Preparatory School. The school is committed to enhancing strategies and skills for learning. The children need to be able to make meaningful connections and to apply knowledge to a range of situations and contexts.
The Preparatory School is frequently visited by teachers, parents and board members from other schools. It is considered a showcase and a working example of what a 21st century learning environment looks like. Enjoyment, engagement, personalised learning and achievement is readily seen at any time during the day.
The school’s student-centred learning environment caters for all learning styles and abilities, and offers a level of diversity that nurtures and expands all children’s development. The children’s learning is personalised through differentiation; the focus becomes each child’s genuine next steps. This allows each child to work at his or her appropriate level irrespective of year level. The teacher uses a ‘guide by the side’ approach to stimulate deeper thinking and understanding through quality questioning.
Differentiation also caters for the learning needs of able children. It allows them to work at an extended level but remain in their learning environment with their peer group. This approach also assists the development of their Key Competencies (KCs) or emotional intelligence (EQ).
The KCs are considered integral to being a well-rounded and successful learner. A person’s EQ is expected to be a signiﬁcant factor in securing employment in the future. The primary years are the foundation years for the development of this skill set.
The Preparatory School curriculum is developed under the guidelines and philosophy of the New Zealand Curriculum and takes into consideration the special nature of St Andrew’s College. It takes, as its starting point, a vision of our young people as lifelong learners who are confident and creative, connected, and actively involved. It includes a clear set of principles on which to base curriculum decision making. It sets out values that are to be encouraged, modelled, and explored. It defines five key competencies that are critical to sustained learning and effective participation in society and that underline the emphasis on lifelong learning.
The school is committed to enhancing strategies and skills for learning and high levels of understanding. A quality learning environment encourages discussion and questioning, and for the student is engaging, differentiated, and meaningful. It also develops interpersonal skills.
The continued development and implementation of a common school-wide Key Competencies language has remained a focus during the year. The areas of Managing Self, Relating to Others, Participating and Contributing, Thinking, and Using Languages, Symbols and Texts are considered integral to character development and academic achievement. Following on from student inquiry work in this area the staff and students produced the following language for use within classrooms:
The above language is displayed prominently on posters in all classrooms and is becoming embedded in the language used by students when describing what it takes to be a successful ‘learner’. Each of the four posters also contain a quick reference icon which enables students to connect in pictorial form with the intent of the language. Key Competencies play an integral part in fostering dispositions for lifelong learning.
As we look towards 2018, we will have a targeted Annual Plan which will continue to support the ongoing development of the school’s Student-Centred Learning approach.