Bouquets 2: Two Secondary School Examples

Case Study Three: Hobsonville Point Secondary School

Hobsonville Point is a very new school – established in 2014 so now in just its 4th year. Its roll of 348 (2016) is 65% Pakeha , 12% Maori, 12% Asian and 4% Pasifika. It could be argued that because a brand new school starts from a blank slate that it will look closely at current and even future thinking and build a culture, a curriculum and an education based on current best practice. It seems that this is true of Hobsonville Point. The school has been very well reviewed by ERO who following their 2016 review concluded “Students at Hobsonville Point Secondary School are highly engaged in learning and appreciate the broad range of opportunities they have to grow personally and academically. Leaders and teachers work in partnership with students and their families to provoke thinking and inquiry, and to support personal excellence and growth.”

They have very interesting values and vision statements based on this diagram.  A better copy can be viewed at here:



It is interesting to note that values and vision appear as a kind of starting or end point in the diagram depending on where you start to read. You could read the diagram as the 5 values are all encompassing and everything is derived from these. Alternatively the vision could be the heart of the school and the rest is derived from that. Whatever way you chose to read it this is a powerful values-based conceptual diagram. If you look at the diagram and compare it with the values notions, concepts and ideas table eight of the 15 terms used in the values and habits rings appear in the table.

There are other aspects of the school’s approach that also place high priority on values. One example of this is the Learning Hub concept. Learning Hubs are small groups of no more than 15 students with a Learning Coach. This key person forms strong relationships with, and works in partnership with, students and their families.

The Coach provides a caring environment for academic and pastoral mentoring and guidance, and ensures each student is following a robust, challenging programme. Learners remain with the same Learning Coach for their time at school. The Learning Hub is a time for learners to be exposed to a wide range of ideas, interests, skills and experiences which support their learning. During Learning Hub time students develop skills around learning to learn, and the habits to be successful inquirers and self-directed learners.

The Learning Coach works with students to identify passions and link their interests and needs to their learning. Learners negotiate their LearnPath (personalised learning programme) with their Coach to ensure that what they are learning is relevant to them. The Coach supports and guides students to set and meet challenging learning goals.

Another is the idea of powerful partnerships. These are strong nurturing relationships between learning coach and students and families. Partnerships between business and community and taking action within the community to make a difference is also part of this. Steven Mouldey shows eloquently in some of his posts how this works in action. For example:

In his “What is the Essence of Your School” post Steven list five examples of the Powerful Partnerships concepts within his school:

  • Module Partnerships between Learning Areas to amplify learning opportunities
  • Learning Hub Partnerships between students, parents and Learning Coaches
  • Big Project Partnerships between students and community groups
  • Warm and Demanding Partnerships between Critical Friends (Staff member pairings)
  • Our special partnership with Hobsonville Point Primary School and our developing relationships with all our Contributing Schools.

The over all values message one gets from looking at the Hobson Point Secondary school is that they give high priority to the values of caring and empathy. They also place good deal of emphasis on hearing student voices and providing opportunities for individual and personalised programmes for them. The partnership aspect of the school also provides strong links between all aspects of the school life and with the community from parents, to businesses, to community groups, and to local bodies.


Case Study Four: Papakura High School

I will keep this brief as this already a longish post. The South Auckland Papakura High is very different school to Hobsonville Point. It was opened in 1954, so is a well established school. The roll of 635 (2015) is 64% Maori and 25% Pasifika and 8% Pakeha. The school has been a struggling one with poor ERO reports and a falling roll. The ERO report on the school in 2015 concluded “Papakura High School continues a history of poor performance and is not providing a curriculum that adequately promotes student learning. It has a declining roll and experiences challenge in recruiting or retaining effective leaders and staff. Significant further external support is required to provide a positive school culture and improve student achievement.”

However, a remarkable turn around appears to be underway. Under new leadership from the beginning of 2016. The change has been noticed and the Auckland Herald has published a 30 minute documentary of what happen during the first year of John Rohs Principalship. This documentary does not focus on values as such but the values underpinning school life in 2016 comes through clearly.

I strongly encourage readers to view the documentary available at:

My thoughts on the strong values that appear very influential in the school under Rohs are:

Rohs has a strong belief in the students. He refuses to accept that the pupils of the school are inferior in anyway. He refuses to give credence to the idea that poor student performance is a result of deficits associated with the Papakura community. He suggests the education approach in the school must be changed to build a sense of hope and belief in students, the school and the community. The documentary shows this process in action.

Three senior students from year 13 play a major part in the documentary. The comments of these students show the high esteem they hold of the Principal. They say things like:

  • It is important how we talk to each other.
  • He is caring and supports us.
  • He is not focussed on being strict, he is positive and encouraging and interested in relationships.
  • He is interested in our cultures and our languages, what we do and how we feel.

They also talk positively about their teachers and mentors. About deep acceptance, a sense of family, of encouragement, support and hope.

If I was asked to evaluate how well this school is living out the 8 values of NZC I would say something like this:

  • Diversity, Equity, Integrity, Respect and Community and Participation – top quality!
  • Excellence, Innovation & Inquiry – making good progress.
  • Environmental sustainability – I can’t tell from the evidence I have at the moment.

Some Values Bouquets

I feel that some aspects of my last two posts my have seemed a bit ‘preachy’ to my readers! While I do think that the points made in those two posts are important I have decided to go a bit more positive and upbeat in this post!

I am going to base my post this week around 2 case studies. There are many other schools I could have selected but in doing some online research these 5 stood out. They just what seem to me to be interesting and helpful examples of schools doing something special in the values in school area.

Case Study: Breens Intermediate – Christchurch

I selected this case study because I think it is a good follow on to my last post. This is primary school that has really worked over period of time to build their values across all aspects of school life. There are 4 video clips in TKI that outline this. All the videos are short (5 – 6 min).

The first clip (below) deals with how the Breens values were developed.

Their values are summed in this diagram.

Breens Tree 

One thing that is impressive about this first case study is the breadth and depth of the conversation the school has had with community, parents, and students in developing their values.

The second video covers the on going development and refinement of their vision and vales as expressed in the tree overtime. As they considered the kind of things included in the following advice available on TKI …

Values notions, concepts & ideas

… they realised had failed to include sufficient cultural diversity in their values and so they went back to their community to change that.


Another strength of Breens approach to the values is the extent to which they have built the values into everyday life in the classroom life of the school.


It could well be argued that if are values are strong they will help us in times of crisis. The final video explains what happened when the Christchurch earthquakes created just this kind of challenge to the school.


Case Study Two: Balmoral School – Auckland

I have chosen this school (which includes both a primary school and an intermediate) because its approach is quite different from that of Breens and illustrates interesting ideas about the various ways education about values is built into a school and its curriculum.

Their vision statement states that vision is “To value diversity and to develop curious, confident and connected learners.” This vision is very similar to the vision of the New Zealand Curriculum but is followed by a ‘Vision Story’ that expands on the vision. This and other aspects of the Balmoral Approach can be seen at:

The school has a well-developed learning model set out in the school prospectus above. The model features 5 aspects: Balmoral Habits; Numeracy and Literacy; Philosophy for Children (‘Whakaaro Tamariki’); and Curriculum Inquiry at Balmoral (C.I.B.)

Interestingly there is no specific mention of values as such instead values are woven throughout the vision and the learning model. The vision includes the ‘headline’ values diversity, curiosity (part of Innovation, inquiry and curiosity) and connected is an aspect of community and participation. Further it could be argued that confidence is part of respect (self esteem, self respect and self belief – see the notions, concepts and ideas diagram above).

However, there a number of other ways in which values are evident in the school’s innovative approach. The Balmoral Habits shown in the diagram below.

Balmoral Habits

A glance down the features column will reveal the many values that are embedded in the Balmoral Habits.

Another aspect of the Balmoral School learning model is that P4C is considered a key aspect of the student learning. The school newsletter of 9th September 2016 gave an explanation of the school’s use of P4C, including the following …

We see teaching of P4C to every child is vitally important if we want to develop citizens who are critical, caring and creative thinkers. When citizens behave in such a manner we believe that beliefs and prejudices will be challenged, critically thought through and creative solutions found. If this happens we will have a thoughtful progressive democracy.

Balmoral school appears to have a healthy focus on both values and habits and the critical thinking aspects of values page of NZC. This well-balanced approach is further enhanced by the use a very robust inquiry model throughout the school curriculum.

Curriculum Inquiry at Balmoral

This model has a strong focus on problem solving and action. And through this process provoking, empathising, brainstorming, prototyping and reflecting all include aspects of values, critical thinking and taking action.

Two quite contrasting but interesting approaches to the implementation of the values dimension of the New Zealand Curriculum!

Next week I will look at two interesting secondary school examples.