We've put together this handy page to help answer some of your questions. If you have a question that isn't covered below please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07 552 0655.
our curriculum and learning philosophies
education outside the classroom/sports/camps
1. We offer small class sizes, which means more time with the teacher and individualised learning for each student. In a large classroom it is easy for students to sit back, do nothing and disengage. In a Matahui School classroom everyone is involved in the learning process. Students have said they have developed better relationships with their teacher, because they have more time with them; and the teacher really gets to know your child’s individual learning style.
2. Matahui School’s teaching philosophy recognises that each student has their own strengths and learns differently. We believe that “If children cannot learn the way we teach, then we should teach the way they learn” – Ignacio Estrada. We aim to provide learning opportunities that meet the needs of every individual child. A key aspect of our teaching philosophy is the integration of the Multiple Intelligences theory. This is where we ask ‘how is this child smart’ as opposed to ‘is this child smart’ based on data and how a child is performing within a National system. Matahui School students are not moulded to fit in a box, we foster and work with what they bring to us.
3. Matahui School’s curriculum is a unique, structured, conceptual enquiry programme developed by an international curriculum designer. Our unique enquiry ensures our students are exposed to local and global issues, and includes in-depth learning opportunities in science, social science, technology and our local environment.
4. Education outside the classroom (EOTC) is a core part of building our students’ broader skills as well as forming the base for much of our academic learning. Our EOTC opportunities include sport, problem solving activities and team-building challenges etc., and are available to ALL students, not just those who excel in those areas. Our camps focus on personal growth and resilience. Each year all Matahui School students participate in our annual Boat Day. Matahui School is in a rural location, surrounded by natural environment and native bush that students across all year groups use for creative, co-operative and imaginative play. Matahui School is the only school in the Western Bay of Plenty that includes a forest school as part of our weekly curriculum. The Guardians of the Forest programme is available to every student.
5. Matahui School offers a three-tiered leadership programme to every student in years 7 - 8. The leadership programme includes activities completed throughout the year, such as charity work, fundraising and helping to improve the school environment. Matahui School offers leadership opportunities for everyone, not just a selective few.
6. Matahui School has a strong and supportive community. Our active buddy system gives younger students access to senior students allowing them to build relationships and act as role models; in return, senior students provide reassurance and guidance for younger children throughout all areas of the school. Our community of families includes immediate and broader whānau, who are actively engaged with our students' learning and the school in a variety of ways.
7. We offer a specialist in-class music, drama and languages programme, where students learn French and te reo Māori. Each year, students participate in the Marimba Festival and Kidz Rock, and every second year the whole school puts on a production where every child is given a part.
8. OUR VALUES! Matahui School values are embedded in all aspects of the curriculum and we actively encourage students to demonstrate and reflect on these values in their daily lives. Matahui School aims to create an environment where kids accept each other for who they are, and grow to be kind human beings.
We teach reading, writing and mathematics; and integrate aspects of the New Zealand curriculum into our daily learning.
Yes, we believe that students learn best when they develop strong relationships with their teachers and receive focused, individualised support. We aim for average class sizes of 17 students across the school.
The school is not alternative. It is founded on sound educational principles and a philosophy that embraces the theory of Multiple Intelligences developed by Howard Gardner and Art Costa’s Habits of Mind. The curriculum draws upon and reflects key elements of the NZ curriculum for years 1 - 8. The basics of Multiple Intelligence theory states that every child is intelligent in their own way.
No. We aim to develop programmes that meet the needs of each individual learner which means providing for gifted students, as well as supporting those students who may find aspects of the curriculum challenging.
Teachers work alongside parents when giving homework. Usually homework consists of areas where students would benefit from reinforcement (i.e. In years 0 – 2 this might be spelling words practice) or to follow up on a concept studied during class time. In senior year groups, homework may include work that was not completed during the day and the student needs to meet a deadline. We understand that many of our students are busy with extracurricular and leisure activities, and we value that play and community activities also teach important life skills and create opportunities for learning.
Use of digital devices in our learning increases progressively through our year groups. Tablet use and digital technology is limited for our junior students, but our senior students have access to digital devices in the classroom. One of the most consistent findings in educational research on the use of technology in teaching suggests that it is the employment of effective teaching practices that matter the most, rather than the presence of a particular tool. In fact, there is growing evidence that digital reading and writing methods are less effective (i.e. readers may not comprehend material as well because of other distractions online, and physically writing with a pen or pencil is part of the thinking process). Our Year 5 - 8 students are given access to computers and encouraged to use tablets for certain projects, however, at Matahui School we also teach Math, Science, Engineering and technology in other ways (i.e. cooking, hands-on exploration, fun experiments and all students have the opportunity to participate in local events such as the EPro8 challenge).
Matahui School has clear policies, guidelines and procedures in place to deal with bullying or student conflict. This includes restorative processes to help both the bully and the victim to understand the impact of their behaviour, and encouragement to demonstrate the Matahui School values of empathy and forgiveness to try and reduce incidences of bullying and conflict in the first place. This is supported by our active and extensive buddying program, so that our ‘big buddies’ are an accessible role model that younger students can turn to if a conflict situation should arise.
Matahui School values are embedded in all aspects of the curriculum and we actively encourage all students to demonstrate and reflect on these values throughout their daily lives. Matahui School aims to create an environment where kids accept each other for who they are and grow to be kind human beings.
One of the key underlying educational philosophies at Matahui School is Art Costa's Habits of Mind, which can be broadly described as "what to do when you don't know what to do". It provides a toolbox to scaffold our students' problem-solving skills and is integrated throughout the curriculum. Current OECD research emphasises that young people today need to build coping skills, learn how to move on from mistakes and failure, and be taught how to assess and manage risks. Our EOTC programme provides students with the opportunity to experience challenges and manage risks and allows them to bring this learning back to the classroom (i.e. persevering through challenges, looking for solutions and showing resilience to ‘have another go’). It is our hope that by providing our students with the knowledge of how to handle these challenges, they will leave Matahui School with real-world thinking and life skills that set them up for future success.
Matahui follows a progressivist, student-centred learning philosophy. A progressivist curriculum is concerned with the child’s development, their motivation to learn and their needs and interests. A progressivist curriculum allows students to influence their own learning. Teachers at Matahui School use a range of teaching methods to cater for the many different styles of learning so that every student can engage and thrive.
Our junior teacher comes from a Montessori background and integrates aspects of this philosophy into her teachings. Our junior programme focuses on the natural development of a human being, allows the children to learn at their own pace, and focus on their individual interests. Many schools have integrated play-based learning into their junior programmes, but as noted by one of our parents “there are various degrees of how well play-based learning is working in the classroom environment.” Ideally, play-based learning should be meeting the students’ needs and interests. Our junior teacher will set up activities that act as a starting point for play, often using wood and natural materials that help link students to nature and develop their imagination. The children have the freedom to use the full space of the classroom without disturbing others. Our Year 3 – 4 programme incorporates a balance of play-based learning while gently preparing our students for a more structured classroom environment, ensuring an easy transition for our Year 0-2 juniors. There is a beautiful balance in our Year 0-2 classroom programme and these students are well equipped to move on to the following year groups.
Many schools use enquiry-based learning to some extent. Matahui School’s enquiry programme is structured to ensure broad coverage of both global and local issues. Whilst many schools use a topic-based enquiry model, Matahui School uses a conceptual-based model. This allows greater scope to develop critical thinking skills, for students to interpret the enquiry concept in a way that interests them, and which uses their Multiple Intelligences in different ways. Enquiry-based learning is at the centre of our school curriculum which means often the teacher will start with an idea and through questions and discussions with the class will come to understand what the students wish to learn based on their interests. For example, the teacher may begin with an idea like ‘let’s learn about planets and space’ and through discussion with the students will come to understand that they are more interested in learning about moon buggies and space transport, and this will serve as the springboard for their learning enquiry.
Keeping our class sizes small allows our teachers to more readily ensure that each student is supported and challenged in their academic progress. Students who leave Matahui School in year 8 are well equipped to meet the academic challenges they will face at secondary school. We anticipate and expect our students to achieve the highest possible results in all aspects of the curriculum which is in part reflected in our results. Moreover, our students leave Matahui School with strong a self-esteem, confidence and the ability to think and be creative. Their intra and interpersonal skills are very strong, evidenced by some of our alumni who have been elected as head students at the secondary schools they are attending.
The education that Matahui School offers differs from other schools in our learning philosophy, our small class sizes and the breadth of skills we build in our students. We believe this offers value for parents who are seeking a style of education that doesn’t fit your child into a box.
Some parents want a different approach for their children's education. You may be looking for a more holistic approach to your child’s education or find that the environment offered at Matahui School is better suited to your child. Ultimately, you know what is best for your child.
We view your child’s education as an investment. By making that investment at the start of their education, you can set them up with the enthusiasm to learn and the core life skills that they will be able to use throughout their later education and beyond.
The physical education we offer provides the students with a balanced programme encompassing all strands of the New Zealand curriculum. All our students compete at Small Schools and Tall Poppy events, and Matahui School is frequently well-represented at North Cluster, WBOP and BOP sports events. Our teams play in local sports leagues. We have Hockey and Basketball teams in the winter months and teach swimming in the summer. All our Year 7 and 8 students have the opportunity to participate in the AIMS games.
Camps form a core part of our EOTC (Education Outside the Classroom). Our extensive camp programme was awarded the prestigious EONZ Outdoors Award in 2012. All students from Years 4 – 8 engage in camps, which are structured to progressively challenge and extend our students (and often our parent helpers too!). In Year 4 there is one annual camp. At Year 5 and 6 there are two camps and in Years’ 7 and 8 there are four. All camps are undertaken in terms 1 and 4.
Matahui School has a strong focus on the fundamentals of numeracy and literacy. This is supported and enhanced through the school's EOTC programme and vice versa. All EOTC activities have clearly defined learning objectives and link directly to our academic learning. Some of the learning opportunities provided through the EOTC programme include museums, art gallery visits, nature and environmental investigations, and sporting events. As well as linking to our curriculum, EOTC learning objectives include problem solving, increasing student’s creativity, resilience to failure, ability to manage risks, and supporting their excitement to learn.
Visual arts, dance, drama and music form an integral part of our curriculum. Our specialist music teacher delivers an active, hands-on music programme that provides all students with the opportunity to play instruments, create music, and perform.
All students have the opportunity to participate in events such as the Marimba Festival and Kidz Rock, and every second year the whole school puts on a production where every child is given a part. Students can also receive individual musical tuition.
We offer a specialist in-class languages programme, where students learn French; and are given the opportunity to speak, eat and stay with a French family as part of our biennial trip to Tahiti (currently on hold because of Covid-19 travel restrictions).
During term 1, students across the school participate in an intensive Te Reo Māori Programme as part of their in-class learning, and te reo is often included in conversations and daily learning throughout the year. Throughout term 1, Tikanga Māori is incorporated into students learning by engaging in local history and legends, participating in art and crafts, and incorporating Māori culture and language into our physical environment. Matahui School also incorporates Māori customs into our school events, meetings, and special occasions. Our students also explore NZ sign language.
Because we keep our class sizes small, it is a common concern raised by visiting parents that their child may not click with the other children and make friends. On the contrary, with fewer students in class our children tend to connect more closely with their peers and are more comfortable and confident in sharing their ideas. These connections have led to many long-lasting friendships. Our school grounds are safe and welcoming and students across all ages and all classes interact and play with each other on a daily basis. Matahui School is a judgement-free zone where differences are valued and appreciated.
Within our community we have a broad range of families, from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. Our community is not “rich” – many families make tough decisions to prioritise spending on their children’s education because they see the value in this style of education. But what we all have in common is that we are all committed to ensuring the very best outcome for our children. We see education as an investment in our children’s future; and love being involved in the adventure as they grow and learn.
Matahui operates on a not-for-profit, breakeven basis; there are no shareholders expecting a return on their investment. Effectively, the costs of running school are shared between the families. Fees are set, usually annually, by the Board of Trustees.
At present there is no fee scholarship programme offered at Matahui School. However, we are currently working with several stakeholders and the Ministry of Education to try and make our school more affordable and accessible for families.
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