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Transcript: Spotswood College

Transcript: Spotswood College

Hilary Takarangi: Head of Science

Spotswood College is the only co-educational school in New Plymouth. We’re decile 5 and we have about 800 students. This year the time-table has completely changed and we now have a new way of curriculum delivery. We have integrated courses together where they naturally fit and along with teacher interests. The thing I like about integrated learning is where two subjects which naturally fit together work such as physics and music. Physics, they learn about the sound waves. Music, the students may play an instrument anyway and so that just deepens their understanding of those two subject areas.

Larissa Wilkinson: Year 13 Student

My first class that I take that is integrated is physics but we learn it in the context of music which I found really helpful because last year you take wave of mechanics.  And I always struggled to understand waves, because I couldn’t see it. I need to be able to visualise stuff to really understand it. So, by doing it through music and relating it to guitars or pianos and trumpets, it’s a lot easier to see how is actually applied in the real world. And I think that really helps to get a proper understanding.

Olivia Whitehead: Year 13 Student

It was actually quite interesting to find how I can relate the things in music to physics as well and just kind of find that link between the two. It made it a lot easier for both sides as well, because I had knowledge from music and knowledge from physics and I was able to intertwine it.


One of the things about our new curriculum is for teachers and students to have fun. So yeah that does mean getting outdoors. For "Taradise" we explored the local environment as well as doing some science based work In the classroom.

Martyn Knapton: Deputy Principal

It’s been really interesting seeing our students engaged in working across subjects. In terms of, you know, learning a multi-disciplinary approach, you know, for example "Crime Bites", it’s quite  a popular course. We’ve got students who are able to work with local police, the local social services and they can connect deeply to their local area and their context and in particular, those, some of the students that previously wouldn’t have been engaged in some of those more academic disciplines of stats, psychology and geography; they’ve have gravitated towards those programmes and actually had some really good outcomes so that’s really positive.


One of the challenges we’ve had is some classes being quite large, for example "Crime Bites". So we’ve had to be creative with how we use the current spaces that we have. So we’ve used the staff room as a teaching space and we’ve used the hall, because our gym is under construction, as the gym as well as a drama space.


Challenges for all teachers including myself, is that I’ve been taught in a system and I’ve taught in a system. The level of integration from people’s experience, our tacit knowledge has meant that we do see and we have seen our subjects in silos. So one of the things we are really passionate about, we need to acknowledge to is the massive leaps that teachers have made in terms of reimagining themselves within the curriculum as teachers or facilitators of learning.

Tristan Francis: Year 13 Student

One of the challenges in this new curriculum is going deeper into the learning because it actually requires more work and more research, however in the end, the outcome is greater than the sum of the parts.


Some teachers are now, for next year, they are now looking at saying "Yes, I want to teach these courses," or "Yes, I want to teach this topic" rather "I’m going to teach this achievement standard because the students need to it for the NCEA exams".


I think the biggest change we experienced was the thought of having classes for three hours but through the integrated learning you’re not actually doing the same subject for three hours. You’re actually there and you’re developing life skills because when you’re in a workplace you don’t just get to switch when you feel like it after an hour. Forming that concentration and ability to actually stick with work and keep it going has been so beneficial for next year.


I think that this new curriculum prepares us pretty well for the real world. Not everything is set into boxes as they are in school with the subjects so this new curriculum really helps us for, you know, real life and what my future might hold.


We haven’t got a modern learning environment here at Spotswood College. We’ve just got our traditional classrooms and that hasn’t hindered us undertaking this integrated approach at all. We’ve just had to think more creatively about how we do things.

Some successes that I’ve had personally is using achievement standards that have naturally fallen out of the topic. And, also being smarter about NCEA, so one example of this was the physics and music classroom, these two naturally fitted together. The students only had to do one assessment and that contributed three credits for a physics achievement standard and six credits for a music achievement standard. So by doing one piece of work, they actually ended up with 9 credits towards NCEA.

The future for Spotswood College is that we’re going to continue on this integrated journey. Being a school that is at the forefront of educational change within New Zealand is amazing to be a part of as well, that we’re leading the way. That’s pretty exciting for all of us.

Last updated September 23, 2020