Students Seek Insights Towards Ensuring a Thriving Future

| By The Catlins Area School Kaitiakitanga Owaka

Tamanuiterā, Atua of the sun - attributes of energy, light and heat

It was in consideration of the differences and opportunities the COVID experience brought that The Catlins Area School consulted their community in their Strategic Planning Survey. Simultaneously, the everyday media stories hyped a crash of the economy. In many households, this leads to an underlying unknown, something not quite the same…

The Catlins Area School (TCAS) Staff, local curriculum education partners (such as Enviroschools, NPDL and The Catlins Bat Project) and students have been considering an inquiry question, “In a post-pandemic New Zealand, how can we ensure Owaka thrives?”. For school, we broke this inquiry into four key concepts:

  • Physical Environment – How can we conserve our environment/wildlife?
  • Envirotourism – How can we attract people to our place in a sustainable/ongoing way?
  • Community, Place, People – What is our part in and our contribution to the Owaka Community?
  • Turangawaewae e Whakapapa – Who are we within our community?

Our staff and local curriculum education partners met back in June to elaborate on each concept, developing cross-curricular learning activities for all ages. Over 60 activities have been proposed. Since then, some of the key activities have been fleshed out and given depth to incorporate learning across the curriculum using an NPDL (New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning) framework. Examples of these are: Create a Community Pantry, develop a historical walk around Owaka, create materials to educate freedom campers about caring for our natural environment.

In post-pandemic NZ, how can we ensure Owaka thrives?

Deep Learning Framework for The Catlins Bats collaboration









Our student leaders from a number of groups – Head Student, Junior Leaders, Uniform Committee, Elected PB4L Committee (like a school council) and Owaka Going Forward Student Representative – met in week 1 of this term to use an appreciative inquiry process to consider the same concepts. If you’d like to know more about appreciative inquiries, follow this link. Essentially, it is a process where you recognise the strengths related to your inquiry question and determine manageable ways to improve those strengths further. Using this process, our students developed over 50 learning activities they’d like to complete. Examples of these are: build a fundraising coffee cart, develop a sensory vegetable garden with child-friendly spaces, know more about the history of families from Owaka and historic buildings and their histories in order to educate others about them.

Pooling ideas.

All of the information from the teachers, curriculum partners, students and strategic planning survey feedback has been combined into an overarching curriculum plan and set of outcome descriptors linked to our school values.

Volunteers from this group – Lauren Grant, Korban Craigie and Casey Osborne presented a ‘pitch’ to the Board of Trustees with intent to secure funding for some of the more expensive learning activities (see banner photo).

The same group of students have brought to fruition the first of the 100+ community-based projects in the form of Te Pātaka Owaka – our community pantry. You will see it at the top of our school driveway. The philosophy for the Owaka Food Bank is “Take what you need, give what you can”. Students have stocked the pantry with essential items for anyone in the community to take if they need them – the items came from our Food Bank Mufti Day. If you have items you’d like to donate, students can drop them at the student centre, or you can pop them directly in the pantry. The pantry will be featured in an upcoming edition of Clutha Leader.

Te Pātaka Owaka – our community pantry

Senior students who have worked through the process of this development have accessed a variety of NCEA standards at Levels 1, 2 and 3. Over time, it is our intention to deepen the learning relating to the Community Pantry by learning to maintain and manage stock levels, plan the space inside the pantry for best use, make and photograph simple meals that can be made with pantry items and put together a cookbook to showcase them. Can you imagine how much reading, writing and maths learning naturally occurs from this project?

We’re working as a team to work out a sustainable plan to integrate many more of the projects into our school day and to bring them and their associated learning into reality. What will be next?