Small Class Sizes
Matahui School aims to keep class sizes small (average of 17) in order to provide the best possible education for our students. The small class sizes allow our motivated and passionate teachers to spend more time with each student, to ensure our students get the individual learning experience that each one needs to flourish.
Research consistently shows that smaller class sizes provide direct benefits to students’ learning and allows for:
Underpinning Theories – Multiple Intelligences and Habits of Mind
Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory was developed by philosopher Howard Gardner in 1983. Gardner’s premise was that each of us has many intelligences and that intelligence should not be measured only by a predetermined set of test questions. At Matahui School we apply that same theory to our teaching practice. This, combined with using a varied range of assessment tools, allows us to nurture each individual student’s talents. Through our Multiple Intelligences approach, each student comes to understand how ‘they’ learn. Whether your child is academic, musical, artistic, sporty or linguistic, their teacher will help them identify the best way for them to learn.
A key part of applying the Multiple Intelligences in practice is a strong focus on Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC). Our EOTC programme is extensive, and includes cultural, artistic, environmental, sporting and leadership activities throughout the school and outside the school. These activities allow students to engage in first-hand experiences which are linked across the rest of their learning. The breadth and depth of these experiences inspires and motivates our students inside and outside the classroom, leading to enhanced learning outcomes across the curriculum.
Dr Art Costa’s Habits of Mind are also interwoven throughout our curriculum. These can be summarised as what to do when you don’t know what to do, and are characteristics that have been identified as effective behaviours in problem solving when one is faced with a dilemma. Characteristics like persistence, listening to others, flexible thinking, and applying past knowledge are all critical attributes intelligent human beings exhibit when faced with a situation where they don’t have all the information. Actively engaging the Habits of Mind in our learning supports our students in developing real world thinking and life skills.
Award-Winning Outdoor Education Programme
We believe it is important for children to test their boundaries and learn to take managed risks. By building confidence outside the classroom, we see our students transfer this willingness to face challenges 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.
Every student at Matahui School, from new entrant upwards, is provided with a wide-ranging and challenging programme of opportunities for education outside the classroom (EOTC). Every formal EOTC activity has a specific learning objective – both academic and skills-based. For example, the natural environment is the ideal classroom for science-based enquiry; many concepts can be explored through art, music or performance; and problem solving can be developed through facing unfamiliar situations. Our school environment also includes ample opportunity for the children to play, learn and challenge themselves in a safe way.
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. It also provides an opportunity for our older students to show leadership; our younger students to learn by example; and for our families to build community connections. This school event also 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.
Guardians of the Forest Programme
At Matahui School we are privileged to have access to New Zealand’s beautiful native bush, so our students can take their learning into the outdoors.
The Matahui School Guardians of the Forest Programme is a unique learning experience where children spend a day in the forest immersed in nature. The programme gives students real-life experience in New Zealand native bush where they can play; learn and create; find magic in the forest; explore land and water, and become guardians of the natural environment.
The Guardians of the Forest Programme is available once a week, to all Matahui students within our junior school. As part of the programme the children visit our natural spaces in small groups of 12-15 students, and are given the freedom to explore, create and play. The Guardians of the Forest Programme helps children develop independence, self-esteem and personal skills, through hands on experience in a woodland area, and teaches life-skills such as teamwork and problem solving.
N.B. The Guardians of the Forest Programme is currently only available to junior students, however, because of the success of this programme we are currently looking at how we can involve our senior students.
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.
Every week, the whole school gathers along with parents, broader whānau and caregivers, to celebrate our students’ achievements at assembly. These assemblies include performances of original music composed by the students themselves; oral and visual presentation of students’ learning, 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), and each student takes 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.
Matahui also provides a comprehensive leadership programme at our year 7 and 8 level, in which the students aim to complete bronze, silver and gold awards. The leadership programme not only reinforces service to the community through inspiring our students to make a difference, but also helps to develop their sense of contribution and self-confidence for the long term. We aim to empower our students with knowledge and attributes of leadership so that they can apply these skills in a variety of authentic contexts, that gives them valuable real-life experience going forwards.
Our oldest and youngest students regularly collaborate through an active buddy system that supports our values programme, whether it be by sharing learning engagements, joining in play, performing in the school production, or during excursions. This allows our students to progressively take on responsibility for themselves and others, and helps them to develop confidence in dealing with people, both as peers and as leaders.