The teaching staff at Matahui School use a diverse and flexible range of educational practices, to suit students’ different learning styles and needs. Students who have found mainstream education challenging
Teachers have respectful, productive relationships with students that value diversity and build on children’s individuality. Teachers are knowledgeable and use a wide range of effective teaching practices. ERO observed teachers identifying students’ strengths and prior knowledge to develop differentiated learning tasks that scaffold learning for individuals and groups.1
Our teaching staff actively guide and support them in identifying how each student learns best, so they can build on their individual strengths. The students are given thrive at Matahui School. the tools and assistance that enable them to become responsible and independent learners. This makes a real and lasting difference, not only to their primary education but also in providing them with skills and confidence for life.
The school’s philosophy is underpinned by the theories of multiple intelligences and habits of mind and this is highly evident in the curriculum. Students identify their own learning goals and develop self-assessment skills that enable them to evaluate and manage their own progress. Their engagement in project-based learning supports the development of these skills and their growing self-esteem as independent learners.2
Our curriculum involves an interdisciplinary approach where core subjects are integrate across disciplines to create relevant meaning for the student. Students are able to connect their world, with the learning they are engaged in while immersed in hands on activities. Key understandings of concepts provide complexity and depth while students are encouraged to think creatively, collaborate with their peers and teacher, while experimenting and taking risks. The ultimate goal when students leave Matahui School is that they have empathy for others and our environment and have the confidence to be makers of change. Design learning is part of our curriculum focus, students are encouraged to use the design thinking process while they are immersed in their learning.
Award Winning Outdoor Education
A feature of the curriculum is the extensive opportunities for education outside the classroom. This is especially evident in the senior school leadership programme, which provides experiential, authentic learning opportunities that enrich learning and personal growth.3
EOTC directly benefits our students’ learning by providing our students with a wide-ranging and challenging programme, including our school environment that allows children to play, learn and challenge themselves in a safe way. We believe it is important for children to test their boundaries and learn to take managed risks. We encourage our students to transfer their confidence to take a risk in the classroom as well – having the confidence to ask questions and make mistakes is not only essential for their successful learning in the classroom but also helps them to develop skills for life-long success.
Our Year 7 & 8 students typically spend up to 30 days per year learning outside the classroom, including attending four camps per year. Each camp has clear learning objectives and progressively extends our students’ capabilities and their need to show courage and rely on teamwork to complete a variety of challenges.
Our annual whole-of-school Boat Day at the start of the year builds self-esteem and perseverance in all our students by providing them with opportunities and skills to push themselves outside their comfort zone in a safe and secure environment. This school event forms part of our comprehensive approach to water safety. In 2012 our school won the State Kiwi Swim Safe School award as well as the 2012 NZ Outdoor Education Award.
Small Class Sizes
Matahui aims to keep class sizes small (average of 17) in order to provide the best possible education for our students. This means students get the individual learning experience that each one needs to flourish. Our motivated and passionate staff understand that children learn and develop in different ways and rates, and the small class sizes allow them to spend more time with each student to ensure this happens.
Decades of research consistently shows that smaller class sizes provide direct benefits to students’ learning, for example, they allow for:
– more individual student/teacher time. This, in turn, affords a more hands-on learning approach to be used, as teachers have more scope to observe, support, guide and interact with the class as a whole and the students as individuals;
– teachers to put more time into giving feedback when considering the needs of each student, accommodating those who are excelling or need more assistance in particular areas;
– enhanced learning as students develop confidence because they are “noticed” and as a consequence encouraged to contribute to discussions, share ideas, perspectives and opinions;
– students to bond more closely with one another, and support students to work together as a group – the class, in essence, becomes a community;
– a quieter, calmer environment that is conducive to learning.
Warm Welcoming Atmosphere
Matahui is a judgement-free zone where differences are valued and appreciated. As a result, our school grounds feel safe and welcoming. Students across all ages and all classes interact and play with each other on a daily basis, from organising themselves into orderly basketball shooting practice or digging in the school’s archaeological dig site, to trading bush taonga and building huts in the school’s native bush area.
Families try to get to know each other by attending our weekly assemblies, sausage sizzles, VIP days, fundraising events, sewing group, working bees and class get-togethers. Come for a visit to experience this for yourself.
Every school has values, but at Matahui, we embed our school values in all aspects of the curriculum and actively encourage students to demonstrate and reflect on these values in their daily lives. This includes exploring the values through our artwork, drama, music and weekly discussions. As a result, we see our students grow into well-rounded individuals who are connected with and proactively engaged in many positive ways throughout the broader community.
One of the distinctive things about Matahui is that every week, the whole school gathers along with parents, broader whanau and caregivers, to celebrate our students’ achievements first hand. These assemblies include performances of original music composed by the students themselves; presentation of students’ learning through oral presentations, artwork, drama skits and songs. This allows every student to share in and be inspired by individual, team and school successes.
Each class presents at least one assembly per term (usually two), with each student having taken an element of meaningful responsibility in each of their class assemblies. This builds the confidence of every student in regularly speaking and presenting to an audience of 80 people or more.
Matahui also provides a comprehensive leadership programme at our Year 7/8 level, in which the students aim to complete bronze, silver and gold awards. The leadership programmes not only reinforce service to the community through inspiring our students to make a difference, but also helps to develop their sense of contribution, self-confidence for the long term. We aim to empower our students to with knowledge of leadership traits and attributes so that they can apply their own leadership skills in a variety of authentic contexts, giving them valuable real-life skills to carry them forwards.