Porirua College Introduces Innovative Full Day Courses

Hiaohi Stuart, Reporter & Jake Edwardes, Editor

PORIRUA COLLEGE - At Porirua College, students have taken courses for a whole day that are not offered in the normal curriculum. Instead of having five different subjects on these days, students spend the whole day in their innovative new courses, which they have dubbed Ko Te Hapori. The Ko Te Hapori name, created by students Hiaohi Stuart and Lautasi Iosefa, means ‘The Community’ in Te Reo Māori.

These courses were offered one day a week over five weeks in Term Two. Honohono Perihi decided to interview students, teachers and the principal as they were doing their courses to find out more. “We decided to offer them because students said they don’t always enjoy traditional learning that much at school, so we wanted to try teaching in different ways,” says Porirua College principal Ragne Maxwell.

Maxwell and her team of dedicated teachers want to use these courses to create greater student engagement in school, to foster independence and resilience in students, to create cultural connections to school, to give students real world skills and to get students involved in their community.

For teachers like Dave Sutherland, who is teaching students how to develop their own video games, the courses are a way to show students that their passions could turn into careers.  “I am teaching this course to show kids how to create games and hope that millions of people will play their game so that they can earn money,” says Sutherland.

Not all the courses provide the lucrative potential of becoming a video game creator; however, they will give students skills they can use in their lives outside of school.  Pat Churchill is teaching a class on knitting. She hopes students will continue to use this skill long after the courses are finished. Her class also used their time to make a difference. “We are all knitting together pieces for a shawl for Ms Taufitu” says Churchill. Ms. Taufitu is a well respected and loved teacher at Porirua College who has been hospitalised and is recovering from an illness.

The courses cover a large range of topics, such as: the creation of an online magazine, teaching students how to swim and water safety, Polyfest groups (performing traditional music and dances) from many of the Pacific islands, Kapa Haka, painting murals to decorate the school, mountain biking, putting on a show, weaving and knitting, the art of oratory and even creating a television show (Small Blacks TV).  There is a driving course for those looking to get their licence, an NCEA success course for those looking to improve their academics, a tech team learning to fix and build computers and even a course on changing the world for students who are dreaming big.

For students like Jessica Fiame, who is taking “Putting on a show”, the innovative curriculum  days give her a unique opportunity. “I chose my course because dancing is my passion and now I have the opportunity to do this while I am at school,” says the year 9 aspiring professional dancer.

Other students like Tiare-Apetahi Tamaiva, who is enrolled in the Kapa Haka Polyfest course, says these courses have been a cultural experience.  “I chose this course because of my love for Māori performing arts and because I felt a need to learn about my culture,” says the Year 13 student. She says that her experience with Māori performing arts have been nothing but pleasant, and was happy to have the opportunity to learn about her culture in school. Kapa Haka teacher Matekino Matthews has used the extra time with her Polyfest group to help students “to understand more about the history of what Kapa Haka really is.”

Another Year 13 student, Viliamu Fakaofo used his time in the Tokelau Polyfest class to take on a leadership role.  He led a group of over 70 students through traditional Tokelauan songs, dances and drumming. “I feel we can learn easily and fast so that we can rock the stage at Polyfest,” says Fakaofo.  Fakaofo even had his group give Honohono Perihi a sneak peak of their Polyfest performance. He was happy to have this chance to show his learning. “They loved it!” he exclaims.

As the Honohono Perihi team went from course to course talking to students and teachers there was an overwhelming upbeat and positive attitude flowing through the school. Students were happy to be at school to learn things they would never had the opportunity to do in previous years. Teachers were also excited to share their own skills outside of their usual subject areas to students with common interests.

In an ever changing world, education will need to grow with the times. Porirua College is a school getting ahead of the curb, offering students a unique opportunity in their learning, and as far as we can tell, the experience has been nothing but positive.

Ko Te Hapori - Porirua College Introduces Innovative Full Day Courses

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