A beginner's guide to Hobsonville Point Secondary School

HPSS - Day One.
Today was a huge day, it marked the first official day of Hobsonville Point Secondary School!

So what is HPSS all about and how are we hoping to evolve existing models of secondary education?

HPSS is a co-educational state school located in Hobsonville Point, Auckland. We are a MLE (modern learning environment) which means we are a large open plan school, typified by open flexible learning spaces, break out rooms and specialised learning spaces. The furniture is varied, including high bar leaners, mid-level desks, tables, low tables and bean bags. The space and fittings designed to move from caves, campfires to watering holes. We are also a PPP school which simply means that we have another company managing our property (from maintenance to cleaning) - which means we can focus on teaching and learning!

(Credit where credit's due - the next part is mostly poached and remixed from a range of existing resources developed by the Senior Leadership Team and Leaders of Learning!)

The vision for our school is to create a stimulating, inclusive learning environment which empowers learners to contribute confidently and responsibly in our changing world.

The foundations of our curriculum decision-making are to:
  • Innovate through personalising learning
  • Engage through powerful partnerships
  • Inspire through deep challenge and inquiry to develop empowered learners
The curriculum and student week is made up of three key components - learning hubs, specialised learning and project learning.

Learning Hubs
Learning Hubs will:
  • be small groups where caring relationships are fostered
  • provide learners with one key person who will connect with family and ensure learners are engaged in a relevant and challenging programme
  • explore learner interests in order to pursue passions, which can be linked back to learning
  • track progress and provide structures so learners, with their coaches and families, can maintain a learning portfolio
  • build on learners' capacities to be Inquirers and Self Directed Learners

Specialised Learning Modules
Specialised Learning Modules:
  • will enable all students to gain coverage of curriculum areas and fluencies
  • will include a range of teaching & learning modes: co-constructed, seminar, workshop, flipped, online etc.
  • will encourage critical and creative thinking
  • will be framed by inquiry and involve independent learning activities
Learning Coaches will work with the students to create a LearnPath by selecting a range of modules that ensure curriculum and skills coverage. Beyond 2014 students will be able to be placed into modules based on curriculum levels suited to their readiness rather than based on their age.

Check out Specialised Learning Leader Steve Mouldey's post here for detail about Learning Modules

Project Learning
Students will be engaged in at least one project at any time.

This allows student choice through personal interest and develops lifelong skills of collaboration and complex problem-solving.

Big Projects: 
  • larger scale, links with internal or external expertise/mentors, business partnerships, community links, encourage social responsibility & citizenship
  • apply learning across curriculum areas with focus e.g. Wetlands
  • exposure to wide range of learning experiences, scope for student participation across range of roles
Passion Projects: 
  • individual/team initiated and negotiated interest based projects
  • encourage curiosity, grow passions and achieve excellence
You can check out Learning Partnership Leader Sarah Wakeford's blog here for more details.

Timetable Structure

The above image shows the timetable structure as it exists at the moment. All modules run for a term.

The timetable structure consists of:

Specialised Learning Modules:

  • the Big Learning Module (BLM) represents a day long module made up of three curriculum areas and teachers working together to present an integrated daylong module
  • the Small Learning Modules (SLM) is a two session module that is made up of two learning areas and two teachers working together to lead an integrated module 
  • the Special Interest (SPIN) is a single session module that has a singular curriculum focus and is led by one teacher. 

All modules are designed to relate a term long theme (Term One is Identity). Students select modules with support of their Learning Coaches to ensure curriculum coverage is achieved.

Learning Hubs take place every day, with two longer slots to allow times for one-on-ones, e-portfolio development and 'learning to learn' type sessions to take place.

The Big Project takes places every Tuesday. Professional Learning takes priority every Friday morning (with activities being offered to students who need to arrive early).

MyTime is a flexible period that will be used to provide curriculum specific support as needed and time for student led and staff supported interest groups and self-directed time (under the watchful eye of MyTime facilitators). 

Professional Learning 

To support this curriculum structure there is of a course need for a robust professional learning programme that will support our educators to conduct continuous inquiry into the needs of their learners and the success (and areas for improvement) of systems and structures. The following provides an overview of how we hope to achieve this.
  • Teaching as Inquiry – This will underpin the professional learning that will take place throughout the school year. The staff will work in Professional Learning Groups (same as their Learning Community) on individual inquiries and will focus on future-focused strategies being used to improve student outcomes and ‘Powerful Partnerships’.
  • Critical Friendships – The team will be establishing a process for all teachers observing and being observed at least once, usually twice, a term. This will provide feedback and feed-forward for Teaching as Inquiry projects and e-portfolios. We will facilitate PD around being a good critical friend/coach. Senior Leaders will also be conducting fortnightly walk-though observations of all staff to ensure teaching and learning reflects the school vision.
  • Future-focused Leadership training – The team will also be developing a Future-focused Leadership programme for all staff to complete throughout the school year.   
Future-focused Pedagogy support
  • Digital Citizenship – The professional learning team will completed a Digital Citizenship Professional Development pilot project at the National Library last November. This will help the team to develop an ongoing Digital Citizenship professional learning programme for staff and students in 2014.
  • ICT PD – The professional learning team are developing online PD courses to support the teachers in their use of Moodle, Google and MyPortfolio.
  • Responsive Pedagogy - The professional learning team will be responsive to teacher and student needs and will also help with strategies to ensure pedagogy is responsive to the needs of students (including use of student voice, shadow coaching and sharing best practice). 
  • Teacher e-Portfolios – The professional learning team will be working with staff to establish e-portfolios for all teachers. This will provide them with the opportunity to develop an online portfolio for reflecting on sharing their professional learning as well as providing a process for gathering evidence and artefacts for Registered Teacher Criteria and attestation. Students will also be developing e-portfolios through MyPortfolio.
This of course is all a moveable feast, is all a work in progress and as we conduct a continuous cycle of leading and teaching as inquiry systems and structures will continue to involve. 

Basically, if we ain't adaptive experts already, we soon will be!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Excited by what you are all doing at HPSS, really looking forward to coming up there next week and having a look at it in action!

  3. Thanks for sharing about beginners guide to hobsonville point.

    Ideaon INC

  4. I am interested in learning more about you do and including your model in my research. Can we connect?

    Thanks -- Matt Henderson, St. John's-Ravenscourt School, Winnipeg, Canada


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