Our Learning Philosophy

Integrated Learning

Integrated learning is an approach where the learner brings together prior knowledge and experiences to support new knowledge and experiences. By doing this, learners draw on their skills and apply them to new experiences at a more complex level. Integrated learning explores and uses information effectively. It enables children to integrate ideas and experiences and apply them to formulate new learning situations. Creativity, adaptability, critical reasoning, and collaboration are the key features of integrated learning.

Inquiry Model

Our approach to learning is primarily inquiry-based. Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge. Teachers facilitate students through our inquiry model to enable deeper thinking and understanding. John Biggs’s SOLO Taxonomy is used by teachers and students to assess learning and inform next steps.

From the New Zealand Curriculum:

  • In English, students study, use, and enjoy language and literature communicated orally, visually, or in writing.
  • In The Arts, students explore, refine, and communicate ideas as they connect thinking, imagination, senses, and feelings to create works and respond to the works of others.
  • In Health and Physical Education, students learn about their own well-being, and that of others and society, in health-related and movement contexts.
  • In Learning Languages, students learn to communicate in an additional language, develop their capacity to learn further languages and explore different worldviews in relation to their own.
  • In Mathematics and Statistics, students explore relationships in quantities, space, and data and learn to express these relationships in ways that help them to make sense of the world around them.
  • In Science, students explore how both the natural physical world and science itself work so that they can participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role.
  • In the Social Sciences, students explore how societies work and how they themselves can participate and take action as critical, informed, and responsible citizens.
  • In Technology, students learn to be innovative developers of products and systems and discerning consumers who will make a difference in the world.


At the end of Terms 2 and 4, you will receive a written report about your child’s progress. This report details how your child is doing both academically and socially. You will have the opportunity to meet your child’s homeroom teacher to discuss your child’s progress at our Learning Showcases in Term 3. If you or the teachers have concerns about your child, your child’s homeroom teacher will contact you or feel free to make a time at any stage during the year to talk with your child’s homeroom teacher.

At the beginning of each year we schedule a day (most often the day or two before school starts officially for Term 1) for all our new students and their whānau to meet with their homeroom teacher. This is a 15-minute meeting and your chance to find out what room you are in, find out how the class works and get to know your Homeroom Teacher a little bit.  You can either wear your school uniform to this interview or mufti. You will be sent a link to book this meeting slot.

Student-led Conferences

What is a Student-led Conference?

Student-Led Conferences are a meeting run by each student for their whānau, entirely focused on their recent learning at school.

During the session, students present learning in different curriculum areas, discussing the process of learning and sharing progress they have made.


How does a Student-led Conference work?

The session can last up to 30 minutes. You do not have to stay this long if your child has finished sharing their learning.

Several students may have their session at the same time in your child’s classroom.

Each student will have a basic agenda that they will follow.

You will be involved in a variety of activities during the time:

  • looking at samples of learning,
  • talking about goals and what your child, you and the teachers might do to support these goals,
  • looking at work around the classroom etc.

At some point during your session, your child’s homeroom teacher will spend some time with you. This time will allow the teacher to expand on the information your child has shared or for you to clarify something if necessary.

The homeroom teacher will be checking that you have read and understood the information contained in your child’s report. Feel free to ask them questions about the report – this is why it is important to read it beforehand.


Important things to remember

  • Your child must attend.
  • As part of their regular learning, all students have been putting considerable time and energy into preparing for this. If you cannot attend, please arrange for another significant adult in your child’s life to come to the session.
  • Your child will lead their showcase – not you, not the teacher!
  • The showcase is about learning – not behaviour or social issues. (If you or the teachers have concerns here, discussions should already have been held or you can make a time to talk with your child’s homeroom teacher at any time during the year).


Can siblings attend?
Please be mindful that distractions make it difficult for your child and others in the room to stay focused as they share their learning.

We ask that parents turn off cellphones and that preschoolers do not attend.

A room for child-minding will be made available if you are unable to make your own arrangements.

Please also note that we may be filming some of the sessions so that teachers can use this to inform their learning and teaching.


What will I need to do to support my child?

Before the conference:

  • Book a time and put it in your diary
  • Each student will run only one session so all family members who wish to attend will need to be aware of the booking time.
  • Check the prompts and important things to remember list (below).

On the day:

  • Come with your child.
  • Listen – your child will do most of the talking. Your child will share examples of their learning, discuss with you progress they have made, and share their current learning goals.

Your job:

  • Prompt to support your child if necessary.
  • Enjoy the opportunity to see your child in their key learning environment.
  • Celebrate your child’s progress to date.

After the session:

  • Continue to celebrate your child’s successes and support their learning goals.


Guide for Families

My Student-led Conference will include:

  • Me sharing examples of my recent learning e.g. in my books.
  • Me showing you around my classroom and sharing learning from the walls and around the room.
  • A discussion with my homeroom teacher about my learning, progress and next steps.
  • An opportunity for us to talk about my next steps and goals and how you can support me at home.
  • My homeroom teacher will greet us upon arrival.
  • We can find a spot in my classroom and get started straight away.
  • I will start us off by sharing some examples of learning I have taken time to prepare before our session.
  • I will also share my new learning goals with you.
  • You can ask me questions about my learning and use the prompts below to support me as I discuss my learning with you.
  • My teacher will check in with us at some stage and answer any questions you may have.
  • They may share how you can help me at home.
  • My teacher will check that you have understood all information that was shared in my progress summary (report).


Here are some questions you could ask me as we share and discuss my learning together:

  • What are you most proud of? Why?
  • What were you learning to do in this piece of work?
  • What were the steps you went through to learn this?
  • What helped you to learn this?
  • What do you need to learn next?
  • How will you work on your learning goals?
  • Which area of learning do you find easiest?
  • Which area of learning do you find trickiest?
  • What do you do when your learning gets tricky/ challenging?
  • Where have you made the most progress?
  • What has helped you to do this?
  • What can we do at home to support your learning goals?


What is the research about Student-led Conference?

Professor John Hattie (formerly University of Auckland) recently published a revised list of the most effective influences on student achievement which identifies student self-reporting as the most significant indicator linked to raised student achievement. Two other international researchers, Black & Wiliam, further comment:

“the process of students reflecting on their learning, through effective questioning that promotes the articulation of student thinking, is integral to classroom assessment practices that enhance student learning”.

If the focus is to be kept on learning, and the ownership of the learning with the child, then the best person to talk about the learning is the learner. Not only is the student the best person to tell their parents what they have learnt, but if we believe that students build their knowledge by communicating what they know, then providing an opportunity for the students to tell their family what they know can significantly assist with that learning.’ Absolum,(2006).

Research also shows parental involvement in schools and classrooms has a positive impact on children’s learning (Bastiani;Epstein).

In helping to strengthen the partnership between the learner, the teachers and the parents, we believe student-led conferences promote some ways learning can also be supported at home.

South Wellington Intermediate School