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Tue 11 Aug - 11:50 am - 12:20 pm

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Since 2011 The Catlins Area School has been working in a modern structure which is designed to better meet the needs of our students. We have done this as we recognise that if we want innovative, creative community minded people we need to change what we do in schools.

We know what is effective... and our results prove that.

Since the 1990’s there has been a lot of work on what is happening to the brain when we learn. MRI imaging has allowed researchers to see the act of learning in a brain and map what is effective learning. Different acts of teaching have been explored in their effectiveness and this has been reported to governments, Universities and schools, challenging them to look at their practise and do what is effective. The Catlins Area School has risen to this challenge. Using the latest teaching techniques and learning methodology. Further, this research has highlighted different stages of development and what is effective for each stage.

Primary Learning Pathways
  • Important Primary Pathways documents

    Learning to Learn

    Literacy Rich, Numeracy Rich, Wide range of Learning Experiences.


    For Ages  5 – 11

    The child’s brain is growing new branches and opening multiple new pathways.  Children act out of curiosity. They are willing to try new things. They are attentive to adults who they look to for guidance and support. A programme for these students should be rich in experience.


Middle Learning Pathways

  • Important Middle Pathways documents

    Learning for Life.

    Full authentic student led Inquiry with Vertical Forms.

    For Ages 12 – 15

    This is the time of enormous physical change not only in the body but in the brain as well. Hormones and emotion drive a lot of the decision making. The children are starting to prune down the pathways in their brain. The pathways they use the most will remain and those they use less will reduce or die.  They are willing to try and find their own identity and peer judgement plays an important role. This age group is most at risk for switching off learning. They will make plenty of dumb decisions, although the parts of the brain for thought, creativity are nearly fully formed. The part of the brain that controls decision making is the last to be formed (It is nature cruel joke). The programme for these children should match their interest and curiosity. It should be engaging and full of the kinds of activities and thinking we want them to do in later life.


Secondary Learning Pathways

Important Secondary Pathways documents

Gaining tools for the future.

Dual path qualifications between trade based NCEA qualifications and Academic based qualifications.


For Age 16 - 25 

More pruning is taking place but generally the brain is nearly fully formed, pathways are chosen in the brain and the young adult is gaining experience using these thought pathways. The central cortex which controls decisions is fully formed and these young adults tend to make more measured decisions.  Though they are still learning new skills, how they learn is nearly set. How they learn is more important than what they learn as it is the how that will determine how successful they will be as adults. In short if an adolescent practises perseverance and problem solving and creative thinking, that is how they will learn in the future. If an adolescent practises rote learning, waiting to be told or shown what to do, their adult life will be the same. It is precisely this reason we restructured the school more along these developmental lines.

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