Youngsters schooled in unique way

By Merania Karauria

The name has a ring to it and makes what used to be Rutherford Intemediate unique in New Zealand.
The identity of Rutherford (now RJH) remains, and the school uniform is the same, but the name change reflects the new school-structured curriculum delivery that follows the secondary school model.
The change came after two year's consultation  on how the school could better reflect the pupils' needs;  although in 2005 the school introduced and trialled a  simple specialist programme.
Principal Joy Hannah said their model was unique for New Zealand in the 10-14-year old education group - the middle years - and the RJH teachers and board of  trustees believed pupils were more motivated and engaged by what they learned and the way they learned.
They were in the transistional stage between primary and secondary and their needs were specific, principal Joy Hannah said.
"Their needs are so different. They need a variety of opportunities."
RJH had also found that the pupils' transition into secondary schools was greatly improved due to their knowledge of the secondary structure.
They had a home-based class in literacy, numeracy and social science. But Ms Hannah said it was not possible for the school  to cover these subjects  and its specialist subjects in a five-day week.
So, thinking outside the square but within the law,  RJH now worked on six periods a day on a six-day timetable, involving  45-minute classes.
Qualified specialist teachers delivered health/PE, technology, music, art, languages (French, Spanish, Japanese and German), science, robotics/electronics and te reo Maori - the pupils were not tied to one class for the school day.
Those specialist subjects enabled the school to identify pupils' areas of strength which led to the school's Young Achievers Programme, Ms Hannah said.
Booster classes were for those students who needed a "boost" to achieve because "we want them to thrive".
And  a "bridging the gap year" was available for pupils who weren't yet ready to move on to secondary school.
Again, Ms Hannah said, because RJH did not operate in the manner of a traditional intermediate, the school consulted  secondary schools  on what they did with the pupil.
"You can't take a child who has missed a lot of year-8 and put them in to year-9," she said.
"They're socially and academically not ready for that move."

Every teacher at the school had a copy of Sean Covey's book, 7 Habits of highly effective teens, and Carl Mays' quote of "the real challenge and the real reward is to take who you are and what you are capable of doing, and create the means to achieve your dreams" was the ethos that drove RJH.
Ms Hannah had the final word: "The teachers are here to teach and the students are here to learn."
 

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 20 Apr 2014 23:13:59 Processing Time: 540ms