Hobsonville Point Secondary School – What is the fuss about?


As well as being a rich learning experience in itself, the 2016 GAFE Summit allowed me to snoop around the host venue – Hobsonville Point Secondary School. I have followed the development of this school with interest as it appears to be the latest evolution of a modern school – not only in physical building, but also the pedagogy that is it’s foundation.

The building itself is unique for a school. No rectangular boxes, the learning areas are open with the standard break out rooms easily accessibly. Linking the whole building together is a long corridor down which the fluorescent light zig zag playfully. Surprisingly, when you attend a presentation in one of the learning commons, you don’t hear any noise from the surrounding commons. A variety of furniture was present that could be arranged in a number of different ways.

There was a heap of student work posted on the walls in each commons so it was good to see some different ideas for ways in which I can do things in my classroom. Here are some:

One thing I have been pondering recently is the assessment of Key Competencies. Over the last few years I have come to realise how central these are in my classroom. The Curriculum document makes this more explicit:

“The key competencies are both the ends and the means. They are a focus for learning – and they enable learning.” (Page 38)

“The school curriculum should challenge students to use and develop the competencies across the range of learning areas and in increasingly complex and unfamiliar situations” (Page 38)

“When designing and reviewing their curriculum, schools will need to consider how to encourage and monitor the development of the key competencies.” (Page 38)

“They will also need to clarify the conditions that will help or hinder the development of the competencies, the extent to which they are being demonstrated, and how the school will evaluate the effectiveness of approaches intended to strengthen them.” (Page 38)

How then to meaningfully assess? HPSS have gone some way in developing this area and I was keen to learn more. Through the power of Twitter I was able to connect with Steve Mouldey, a foundation staff member and @gmacmanus (didn’t meet him in the real world) who provided some great links.

  • Celebration evening: in place of a traditional parent-teacher conference, HPSS have student led conferences where they focus on 5 areas that they feel they have developed.
  • NZCER survey: A post that references the work NZCER did in coming up with a (rather cumbersome) set of questions.
  • Key Competencies – Snapshot: Post detailing how the survey was used in a Level 1 Digital Technology class.
  • Tracking Hobsonville Habits: a detailed article on the method used. I like the visual tracking tool so had a go at developing one myself using Google Sheets and a radar graph.

First attempt at a TBC tracking tool

First attempt at a TBC tracking tool

So, a great inspiration and some more work to do. My idea is to develop some sort of Google Form or Sheet distributed via Classroom (to allow teacher access) that students well complete as an ongoing task, adding in evidence of growth in each of the competencies. Let’s see how we go….

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