by Steve McCracken
Care, connections and curriculum are pillars Kaipara College is built upon. Covid-19 is not going to change these, nor is it going to add more ‘c’s’. At a time when there have been constraints, cutbacks and possible confusion, the Kaipara College community has held fast, stood tall and been a leader for our young people, their whanau and the education sector in general. However, we understand that the short-term pain we have been through in lockdown at Alert Level 4 will only be the beginning for many in our school community. We would like the community to know that Kaipara College will continue to be a constant for the students in our care.
Our school has been fortunate over this period to have amazing support from the Ministry of Education. New Zealand can be very proud that not only do we have a world class education system, but we also have a government department that has been agile and willing to facilitate remote learning to all our young people over this period. As devices and hard copy learning packs are distributed throughout the country, learning for all students will have continued in some format. To parents and whanau, don’t get too worried about any form of academia your child is or isn’t undertaking. Yes, for the students undertaking NCEA this year it may be worrying but know that ‘we’ve got this’. We are a school that genuinely cares about our young people and at this time, their wellbeing is the most important factor to us, so when we do return to a new normal they are ready to take off, to be agile and forward thinking.
For any young person, their school is a place of important connections. It is where they learn, where they grow into themselves and where they develop the ability to nurture and voice their opinions. Kaipara College also allows our students to develop connections beyond school. Looking at life after lockdown, this is now our chance to make the most of these opportunities. The sudden leap to remote or online learning is a catalyst to further develop our curriculum and continue to enhance the work we have been doing over the past three years. Connections keep us going. We know connections are also an important part of building resilience and boosting wellbeing. With our two school goals being Belonging and Success, as we resume school in the physical sense, re-establishing connections will ensure our young people are motivated and engaged.
We have been rethinking our methods of teaching and learning for a number of years. At the beginning of this year we launched into a new timetable structure which allows authentic (relevant and real world) learning and fewer classroom transitions on a daily basis. With the focus being shifted to learning over assessment, the ability for students to belong and succeed as individuals has definitely been reflected whilst in lockdown. Learning has never occurred remotely on such a substantial scale before, but our students have responded brilliantly. Whilst we can’t be sure when we will return to our full school in attendance on the Rautawhiri Road site, the curriculum opportunities afforded to us have just accelerated. Over the next few months, we will review what has been implemented and explore future opportunities for curriculum development.
A lot has changed in a very short space of time. Our young people have changed and have now lived through and experienced a once in a lifetime, world-wide event. What have not changed though are the fundamental principles of their place of learning. Kaipara College always puts people first. It is a place that cares, that connects people and allows individuals to experience their own definition of success through a relevant and authentic curriculum. We’ve got this!