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Transcript: Kelston Girls' College

Transcript: Kelston Girls' College

Rebecca McGrath: Head of English

Kelston Girls' College is, in my opinion a very special and unique school. We are a single sex, state owned school set out in Kelston, which is West Auckland. Kelston Girls' is a school that is in transition. So when you arrive, we have a real mix of traditional architecture, our hall for example is exactly like school halls have traditionally been for many years. But we are also in the process of renovating and modernising. Our demographic, 80% of our learners are Pacifika, we have the highest number of refugee students out of any school in New Zealand.

We’ve decided to integrate because we want it to be a true reflection of what happens in the real world. When you leave school and go to work you will be writing, you’ll be reading, you’ll be speaking, you will be thinking about ethics, you’ll be thinking about scientific formulas all at the same time and we want what happens in our school and the way we learn to reflect that. So we want to teach in a way where everything is connected to everything else so that it’s meaningful and relevant.

Sarah Stenson: Principal

So the reason that we wanted to trial integrated learning at Kelston Girls' College is because we’re wanting to develop a future focused curriculum. We’re also part of a visioning project and I think that a future focused curriculum means we need to be exploring integrated learning. We’re wanting to be careful about it, and we’re wanting to make sure that we’re trialling it carefully before we go straight into the whole thing, so it’s early days for us yet.


We’re very early stages of integrating. We’re focusing on writing across the curriculum.  As part of that, in English we are supporting the writing that is taking place all around the school by teaching skills, by providing them extra time and providing that support and scaffolding to allow them to achieve not only well in English, but at a higher level in their other subjects.

Kit Willet: English Teacher

Integrated learning just makes sense I think, to me at least, it makes sense to not shy away from something that’s new and scary because it helps. It builds content knowledge. It makes things more relevant, it shows our students that when they are out in the real world this is what they’ll be doing.

Medea Lutfi: Year 12 Student

I do prefer integrated learning over traditional learning because I feel more free in learning. It’s more like you get to understand everyone else’s ideas and their perspectives and why they thought that way. And then you can add on to that and they can add on to your ideas and it’s just a more open-minded environment and you get to really learn from everyone else around you.

Fazila Safi: Year 12 Student

The thing I like about integrated learning is that we’re learning but it doesn’t feel like work. Everybody has different thoughts and ideas that we put together, which makes us think of like other ideas that we never would have thought if we were to work independently.


So, one of the values in our school, in our "Kura", is culturally responsive teaching and learning and it’s finding a way to marry culturally responsiveness with 21st Century learning. One of the really big things there is giving students the opportunity to work alongside one another so that they can have an interaction, we call it "Ako" - a two way street. So for us, large tables which allowed for group work, but also big enough to allow them to pair off and not be in each others faces was a pre-requisite, so we asked for that furniture to be made and brought in.

Nikita Sionetail: Year 13 Student

This year I’m finding the modern learning environments easier to work in because we can go into the breakaway rooms where we can do quiet reading and we’re all at different places in reading so it helps us to catch up and all be at the same pace and level.


We’ve had a lot of challenges and we have been pushed back quite a few times but no matter what we’re determined to get this off the ground running and we’re really focused on our writing and we’re seeing some great results.

Annie Wallbank: Year 13 Student

The things I found good about integrated learning was that I’m more able to retain information for longer and it’s more stuck in my head and I’m able to relate it to different contexts rather than in just one subject.


There are many benefits to integrating the learning. Another benefit would be student choice and autonomy. Here we really value the students understanding and the way they see the world. And through integrating learning we allow students to have more voice in what they learn, how they learn it and where they want to go. This increases their overall engagement and makes it meaningful and relevant to them.


The biggest challenge of integration at a senior level is time. NCEA, really the way that we do it means we only have a certain amount of weeks to do assignments and the way that we do them is ticking all the boxes. I firmly believe that the spirit of integration is more than just ticking all the boxes.

Matt Ross: History Teacher

Some successes that I’ve had with integration have been students who have really struggled with the literacy requirements of a task and can kind of understand the ways that we’re constructing ideas in a historical sense but are struggling to think about how that looks in terms of writing that has authenticity and is compelling to read. And being able to have that support in English means that they’re able to cross that barrier and feel that that’s not going to stop them accessing the history learning.


The biggest successes that we’ve had so far is firstly student engagement. We have a buzz in English. The girls love to come, they’re enjoying their learning and quite often I’m hearing this "Oh, I get it", which we never used to get. Secondly, especially for our lower achieving girls, the opportunity to be transitioning their learning from one place to another is allowing them the extra time and support they need so that they can meet the requirements in both areas.


The big success for me is definitely a combined assessment that Rebecca and I have been working on which is When Different Perspectives Connect. That’s 3.8 and 3.7 combined, and it just saves so much time, and it’s just a bucket load of credits for the same amount of work.


The integrated learning has impacted my credits, so it’s kind of cut down the amount of time it takes to do two standards into one and it allows me to go deeper into the actual course itself.


I think both traditional and progressive learning styles have their benefits. I think the benefits of traditional learning styles is that it’s tried and tested, it’s quite easy. I think progressive and integrated learning styles are difficult, but it means that students can explore their identities as well as the subjects, and that’s just a really lovely hopeful thing to be a part of in English.


The next steps for our integration is that we need to take what we’re doing in English and History, the integration and we need to make it sustainable. We also need to make it so that we can roll this out in a mass scale. That means we have to really carefully think things through, we’re going to have to be risk takers, we’re going to have to make some big decisions but the reward that we believe is at the other end makes it all worthwhile.

Last updated September 23, 2020