by Katrina Ferguson

Learning at Ellesmere College

Post-lockdown, ChristchurchNZ, which is the city’s sustainable economic development and city profile agency, carried out some research by surveying the CEOs of over 50 companies in the four supernode future focused growth sectors of: aerospace and future transport; food, fibre and agritech; health tech and resilient communities; and high tech services. These are seen as the growth industries in Christchurch where a large number of people will be employed in the future. The CEOs were asked about the skillset that they want new employees to have when they join their company. The top 5 responses were:

  • Teamwork
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Self-management
  • Problem-solving

In order for us to ensure that our students are leaving Ellesmere College with a skill set that sets them up to be able to thrive and flourish in the 21st century, we need to ensure that teaching and learning moves away from traditional classroom teaching which is more akin to Victorian Era England than to 21st Century Aotearoa. This is something we have been hugely conscious of and have been working hard around over the past few years. 


Image by: Katrina Ferguson

The concept of Ako means to teach and to learn and that new knowledge can come out of shared learning experiences. At Ellesmere College Ako is an integrated, shared, whanau style learning environment where students investigate concepts and ideas through project based learning.

The teaching of Key Competencies, Ellesmere College Values and Literacy and Numeracy are woven throughout learning in Ako, as well as drawing from many other curriculum areas such as Science, Social Studies, Technology, Arts and Physical Education.

In 2024 learners in Year 7-10 will spend 16 hours per week in the Ako environment. Year 7 students will have access to at least 3 teachers in the Ako space, and one of those teachers will become their Hapori (Learning Advisory) teacher. This teacher will have a key role in helping learners in their Ako group to manage and track their learning and provide guidance around ensuring students make informed choices when selecting their Connected Learning Modules. The Hapori teacher will be your first point of contact for Ellesmere College.

Our teaching teams across Year 7-10 have been carefully selected to ensure a broad range of curriculum strengths in both Ako and Connected Learning Modules. Each year level has a Team Leader who, alongside Tanya Prout (Assistant Principal), will ensure that a robust tracking system is in place at both an individual and year group level across all NZ Curriculum areas. We will continue to use asTTle reading and Mathematics testing in Ako as a benchmark for student progress and to allow students to set personal learning goals.

Connected Learning Modules

Image by: Katrina Ferguson

Connected Learning Modules (CLM) connect multiple ‘subjects’ to authentic ‘real-world’ contexts. Learning is co-designed with ākonga to be powerful and transformational. CLMs have a focus on integrating Technology, The Arts and Languages with other curriculum areas.

Learning module units are co-constructed, taught and assessed collaboratively by teachers from two curriculum learning areas in response to student needs and interests. These modules foster deep learning and student engagement, with meaningful connections across learning areas. Each Learning Module integrates two New Zealand Curriculum Learning Areas, be taught by two teachers to a group of up to 60 ākonga, for a duration of up to one semester. Year 7 students will get to choose their Connected Learning Modules at the beginning of the 2024 academic year during their "Funday". Students present their work from Ako and Connected Learning Modules to the public at our end-of-term Exhibition Evenings which all students and parents are expected to attend.


Image by: Katrina Ferguson

Hapori is founded on the principles of Whanaungatanga, Ako, Manaakitanga and Tangata Whenuatanga. It is designed to foster the holistic development of learners/ākonga to empower them to be connected, collaborative, community-minded citizens at a local, national and global level. Through Hapori, ākonga are supported to reach personal goals, holistically grow and to realise their potential through:

  • Relationships
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Goal setting
  • Pathways
  • Hauora
  • Citizenship

The Hapori Teacher is the significant adult in the student’s school life who supports, tracks and monitors the student’s academic progress and well-being. It is expected that the Hapori Teacher develops a strong, positive relationship with ākonga and their parents/whānau.