ERO praises college's new curriculum

By Sam Hurley

Te Aute College has been praised for its academic achievements, its new teaching structure and progress made through its remodelled curriculum in a government report.

Te Aute's commissioner, since 2011, Elizabeth Ellis said she is really pleased with the Education Review Office (ERO) report and the praise given to its new curriculum, Toku Moemoea.

"ERO has recognised the strides we have been making at Te Aute College since our last review in 2011. With the recent appointment of a new principal, and the establishment of a strong board of trustees to see the college through the next phase of its development, we are at an exciting time for the college."

Shane Hiha, the new Tumuaki (principal), takes over in October.

Ms Ellis took over from the board of trustees in 2011 when it voluntarily stood down after a "secret report", commissioned by Te Puni Kokiri, found the school in danger of going into receivership with more than $10 million in debt.

The ERO report said that the new curriculum approach is "generating engaged and revitalised discussion about learning amongst both students and teachers".

It also notes that the school has sought and incorporated feedback from students, and from discussions with parents, into its teaching and learning practice.

Te Aute College acting principal Bill Adams said over the last few years ERO had been pointing to a need to improve NCEA grades. "Last year 71 per cent of our leavers did so with level two NCEA. This compares pretty well with the national figure for Maori boys of 56 per cent. This continues a trend set in 2011 which was acknowledged by the Minister Of Education in a personal letter of congratulations to the college."

Ms Ellis said some innovations are making a big difference to the way the school performs. "Te Aute's curriculum, Toku Moemoea, is a 21st century approach to learning. It takes the school's current strong academic performance and commitment to Te Ao Maori (Te Reo and Nga Toi) and combines it with international best practice.

"Every student has his own learning plan, tailored to his evolving interests and talents. This means that boys, along with whanau and supported throughout by their personal academic advisor (form teacher), make choices about what they learn. Whanau can be actively involved as their sons make choices for their future."

Mr Adams said the new programme was thoroughly discussed with whanau and boys, however not all were initially responsive to the change.

"Not all were enthusiastic, especially the seniors who had been brought up in traditional classrooms to be teacher dependent. In the end parents showed faith in the school and supported the curriculum. Some parents love it, others still have reservations which will only be resolved if their sons achieve well. Many parents are well aware that the previous curriculum style did not suit everyone either."

Ms Ellis said the school gives parents regular information so they can encourage and support their sons, whether day or boarding students.

"Te Aute has a long history of sending out into the world young men who contribute to the society of Aotearoa and Te Ao Maori. We are grateful to the iwi, hapu school leaders, staff and community, the Anglican Church and Te Aute Trust Board, who all help make sure it continues to do so," she said.

The ERO will continue to support the school during the next two years through its review system.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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