It is a privilege to be leading Mangonui School in the Far North of New Zealand. We have a growing population of learners (160) that come from a wide range of areas within Doubtless Bay. One of the factors that I believe makes our school so attractive (besides our amazing location) is that we have an extremely professional and dedicated teaching team. We have seven fully registered teachers and employ six experienced Kai Mahi (Teacher Aides). This year we have a new line up of staff as we had some teachers moving on at the end of 2016. Kohu Inch, Ariana Willaims, Madeline Clark and Ryan Kiely have joined our teaching team this year with Dr Angela Nunn, Tina Petersen and Petrina Yuretich becoming the ‘old hands’. A mix of experienced and beginning teachers. The key ingredient to your child’s success at school will be the ability of their teacher. At Mangonui we have a great team and powerful collaborative approach to supporting our learners. We have been strategic in who we have recruited to teach at Mangonui and this is why we have such a strong teaching team.
We have two learning spaces based around ‘Innovative Learning’ pedagogy. This basically is moving away from teacher led learning to creating active student centered learning environments. Learning is also shared through google sites with timetables and planning all available. This approach has been highly successful with students becoming the agents of their learning empowering the students to take control and participate at a deeper level with their learning. We have just had the Education Review Office (ERO) visit our school and had great feedback on the learning environment we provide.
Mangonui School also invests in a fully trained and experienced Reading Recovery teacher to support readers who are struggling in the early years. We are serious about learning and dedicated to ensuring all our classrooms are highly effective learning environments. We track all our learners to make sure that they are all moving in their learning and that what we are doing in our learning programmes is impacting on their outcomes. We also run additional programmes such as Accelerated Learning in Maths (ALIM) and Accelerated Literacy Learning (ALL) throughout the year to accelerate those learners who are falling below the National Standards. Our Deputy Princpal Dr Angela Nunn is released weekly to analysis data and support classroom programmes to ensure our learning programmes are in line with the expectations of our Annual Plan.
We also employ a ‘Kiwisport’ facilitator (Ashleigh Dent) who runs a sports programme on Wednesdays throughout the school. Sport is an important part of our school curriculum. Keeping fit and learning to work as part of a team are essential attributes that we want to see in our tamariki. We are also part of ‘Project Energize’ which is based around healthy lifestyles and keeping active. Mangonui School is always represented in Zone and Interzone competitions, Swimming, Netball, Rugby, Athletics, X Country etc. Our students also lead Jump Jam 3 times per week where at the beginning of the day the whole school dance to get their learning energy working.
Our school is situated above the Mangonui harbour which builds a strong connection between the school and sea. All of our school community has a relationship with the sea which comes in many forms, from swimming in summer time to picking pipi for kai. It forms a large part of our curriculum as we feel a huge responsibility to ensure our learners are aware of their role as kaitiaki of this important resource. A big part of our curriculum in Terms 1 and 4 is based around the sea and bush. We strongly believe that our students need to form a strong relationship, a connection with our unique environment. Students are regularly outside of the classroom exploring our local environment. Term 4 is our ‘Education Outside The Classroom’ (EOTC) term where the sea becomes a big part of our curriculum. All our students learnto kayak and paddle board as part of our learning in Term 4. We have also introduced sailing for our Year 5 and 6 students in Term 4 2017. We strongly believe that these experiences are important to the development of our students. We live in the Far North, we are surrounded by water so it is really important that our students know how to interact in a safe and fun manner with our sea.
Mangonui School is situated on the rohe of Ngati Kahu:
Ko Mamaru te waka
Ko Parata te tangata
Ko Kahutianui te wahine
Ko Ngati Kahu te iwi
Mamaru was the canoe
Parata was the man
Kahutianui was the woman
And Ngati Kahu began.
Learning about Ngati Kahu and te ao Maori is another very important aspect to our kaupapa at Mangonui School. It is important that our learners understand the relationship between Maori and the land, sea and sky. It is important they are able to walk in both the Maori and Non Maori worlds confidently. We want our Maori students to be successful at school as Maori.
Our curriculum at Mangonui School is always developing and changing. We are always looking at our learning programmes to ensure that they are effective. If something is not working we will change it to connect with the learner. Learning must be authentic, meaningful and purposeful. No one is going to put effort and energy into something that is not. I have always felt sorry for the student who is told to write about their weekend. A very difficult task when nothing really happened! Learning should be fun and exciting. We have many different approaches to connect with all learners. Digital devices play a big part in everyday learning engaging students into their learning and deepening learning experiences. We use a wide range of digital tools from ipads to chromebooks. We provide all our students with digital devices. From Year 3 upwards all students have a chromebook of which they do a lot of their work. We are a GAFE (Google Apps For Education) school. This does not mean our students do not use pencil and paper and learn how to write properly. These are all part of a decent education. As ERO commented we are a pioneer school in education in the Far North as far as leading change. We wear that label with pride. We are part of the Far North Community of Learning which involves 20 Far North schools working together, sharing practices, teachers and resources. This is at the foundation stage of which we are really excited about.
In the Junior area of the school learning is mostly centred around ‘Experience Based’ learning. Students have regular ‘experiences’ that they are interested in that they can then write, think, read, draw about. Our results from this style of learning are exceptional. We also have a big focus on ‘small words’. These are the words that connect/ allow beginning writers to begin the journey of writing, we are trying to build their capacity to connect with literacy.
Every year we look closely at our National Standard data to identify areas where we need to pay closer attention to. Each year Target students are identified in each class. Plans are put in place to try and move students into the safety zone (At) of the National Standards. Parents are notified that their child is a ‘Target Student’ and we try to support parents to be able to help their child from home. Each term we hold a Whanau Day. These are focused around an essential learning area. We really believe that we must work together (School, Student, Whanau) to fully support the learning of the children. We are always looking closely at our data to ensure that progress is happening. If not we go back to the drawing board and ask ourselves- what do we need to do differently? Our school uses the Mangonui School Learning process ‘Curiosity – Collect – Connect – Create – Communicate’ to allow our learners to inquire about the world that surrounds them. We use a range of resources that support our students to be in the drivers seat of their learning.
If you venture into our playground I am 100% sure if the students were asked “what the kaupapa of Mangonui School is?” They would reply “Kind and Caring”. Not only can they say it but they really believe it and act it out. Having a safe environment that students enjoy coming to every day is a ‘key’ ingredient to learning. We encourage our students to be responsible Kind and Caring community members. To be Kaitiaki of themselves, others and our environment. We have a number of murals that depict our school kaupapa to help guide and remind our students of what part they play as a community member at Mangonui School. We do not tolerate bullying and are very quick to contact parents to sort matters out quickly.
I am passionate about learning. I always feel sorry for schools with Principals who were ‘OK’ teachers. I seriously believe all schools should be lead by people who are passionate and successful teachers. I am sure we would get better results if this was the case. I really respect the Mangonui School Team (from the Caretaker to the Teachers) as I know they all work really hard to make our school an exciting, innovative and a fun learning environment. They are extremely talented and passionate about learning.