Learning / Middle School (Years 7 to 10)

New Curriculum for 2020

We implemented a two year curriculum in 2020. This page will keep you up to date with developments and decisions.


2018 2019
  • Feb: scheduled curriculum review began
    • Visiting of other schools started
  • April: Community / Parent info and survey
  • June: Teacher survey
  • August: Review committee formed
  • November: new structural decisions made
  • Feb: staff training commences
    • Integrated curriculum writing teams formed
    • 2 Pilot classes started
  • March: New 2020 update webpage created
  • May: Teacher-Only-Day on 2020 planning
  • June 25 - 6.15pm and 7.00pm -
    Parent information ‘drop-in’ evening
  • Frequently Asked Questions launched (LINK)
  • Sept 18 - Year 9 & 10 Course Booklet Launched

Confirmed details

We are in the initial stage of planning our structures for 2020 to match the needs of our new curriculum approach. More details will be included on this page as they are finalised.

In 2018 we looked into examples of how schools around the world and particularly in New Zealand were using new approaches to align with 21st-century models of work and priorities. After debate and feedback from the community, the decisions were made about core principles of our new curriculum delivery approach.

  1. The middle school integrated curriculum would build on to the current Year 7 and 8 homeroom programme
  2. Subject area teachers would work together to link topics and objectives in groups of three subjects.
  3. The curriculum would better encourage the values and principles of the New Zealand Curriculum
  4. The timetable would be simplified to make lesson times longer to allow for more depth
  5. Assessments will take the form of the national curriculum level reporting, as is common in other schools.
  6. Time would be set aside to further develop each student’s interests and keenness to learn.
  7. Senior NCEA students would study 6 subjects instead of the current 7, increasing teaching time for all subjects.
We appreciate that asking subject teachers to work in small groups is new for most secondary teachers. The outcome will be:
  1. Students will always be taught each subject by a specialist in that field as they are now.
  2. Students of all abilities will be taught by a specialist at their relevant level.
  3. As now, extra support will be provided where needed to meet learning needs and further opportunity will also be offered to extend gifted students.
  4. Year 11 to 13 courses will not be impacted by the changes, beyond reducing from 7 to 6 subjects.
  5. Our new curriculum will follow more closely the Principles outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum.
  6. The House system will remain in its current form.
We will be running an information evening in Term 2 (date TBC) where more specific questions can be answered. We continue to emphasise Ako Orewa and Manaaki Orewa, and expect that students will be well prepared for their future steps, whether that be university, other tertiary training, workplace training, or a gap year.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (LINK)

1. New Integrated Assignments

The National Curriculum outlines 8 values that a school’s own curriculum must be based on.

We have taken each value and created 2 assignments around it. Each assignment is a mixture of 3 traditional subjects who can now link their traditional topics.

The primary change is that we are designing assignments for our year 7 to 10 students that teach subjects in "related groups" rather than isolated as "silos of knowledge". This is because our experience shows that students can struggle to transfer skills and knowledge from one subject to the next. This allows specialist teachers to work together and relate their material so that the students understand the linkages across curriculum learning areas.

Example Unit

Year 7 and 8 will carry on with their existing programme while extending their already partly integrated assignments. All year 9 and 10 students will do 8 integrated assignments per year that cover all subjects instead of picking 7 subjects as they do now. Each unit is 18 weeks long and focuses on the links within 3 subjects. During each assignment, they will have a specialist teacher for each of the 3 traditional subjects being studied (e.g. only Maths teachers will teach Maths).

2. Assessment

To offer more effective measurement of progress, we will be switching to the use of the National Curriculum Levels. These are already in use in most primary schools and secondary schools are now using them more fully to indicate a student’s progress from years 1 to 13.

During each assignment, evidence will be collected by the specialist teachers to report on curriculum levels the student has reached for each subject.

Parents will still receive a level indicator for each of the traditional subjects.

3. "Ako Time" : Learning to Learn and Manage Self

The National Curriculum also expects schools to explicitly design their curriculum to develop key competencies, including self-management skills. This strengthens the process of a student monitoring their own progress and making decisions about next steps for further learning as much as the teachers do. We have timetabled more time for general academic monitoring and planning. This allows students to reflect on and plan their learning without interrupting any lesson.

Ako time will be a structured programme that helps students plan and work towards unit checkpoints, while also summarising the bigger ideas they are learning.

4. “Mai Time“ : Interests, study, and connections

The aim of Mai time is to develop engagement, independent skills and connect students with particular interests or needs. Every student will have a ‘base’ room for Mai time, four hours per week.The majority will sign up to be part of a student group that shares particular interests such as writing groups, practising music, online courses (industry / extra language), OC TV channel, computer coding etc.

A minority will use the time to catch up on school work when appropriate.

The Ako teacher will be able to identify those in need of catch-up or extension and monitor their students’ use of Mai time. Parents will have access to the use of Mai time as it develops.

4. Senior School (Years 11 - 13)

There is no change to any of the senior course currently offered except we will only ask students to choose 6 subjects instead of the current 7.

Orewa College is highly unusual for historically offering 7 subjects. Schools generally offer 5 or 6 as standard.

We did originally expect our seven course timetable would allow students to pick up courses at different levels, such as studying music in advance of the year level, or conversely picking up a lower year level course when in senior school. This has not happened.

By studying 7 subjects, Orewa College students receive the equivalent of 6 weeks less teaching time on each subject when compared with schools offering fewer option lines

Offering 6 subjects removes pressure on time, staffing and resources, and offers your children the equivalent of 6 more weeks per year on each of their subjects. Offering 6 subjects has no impact on University Entrance for any course and the added teaching time, should increase depth and quality of learning.

Students with exceptional needs will be able to apply to do a seventh course through Harbournet, the virtual learning system we run for Auckland secondary schools. This will be by application and students would need to demonstrate Independent learning and high achievement.

2020 structures

Summary of community feedback in 2018

Please email Deputy Principal Richard Wells with any queries. r.wells@orewacollege.nz