Frequently Asked Questions

Term 1 2023

We have used questions and wonderings from whānau to develop this page. 

Our school and staff have been focus on high impact teaching and learning practices for a number of years, aiming to maximise learning for all ākonga. Learning in a collaborative way with different teachers and ākonga from a learning community is not new to us, and we have been gradually increasing collaboartion in all of our Learning Communities. 

We believe that great teaching and learning is about people and practices, and can occur anywhere, and that flexible or collaborative spaces can support this.

Collaborative teaching and learning has been happening in our school for a number of years now, with staff being part of a significant amount of professional learning, collaboration between staff and reflection. You can see some examples of this which were shared in 2022 newsletters here - OPS Learning Spotlights

We have put a lot of time and energy into planning and preparing for our move. We have anticipated as much as we can, and also recognise that there will be an initial settling in time. We know that no matter how well planned we are, we will also have to be flexible and adapt as we notice the need.

We can’t wait to share the spaces with whānau in person. While this will not be possible until the start of Term 2, we will be sharing more pictures and videos in Term 1 2023.

Movies of our OPS staff responding to some of the questions from whānau about learning at our school.We are conscious that as we continue to reflect on how we maximise learning for our ākonga there will be changes in our learning communities.

How will the space actually  be used?

The spaces have been designed for different kinds of learning, and the different preferences individual ākonga have for how they like to learn.

We looked at a lot of different schools several years ago when we were in the planning stages. There were some which we thought would work well for our OPS ākonga and others less well.

Each learning community (floor) has been designed with larger gather spaces, breakout spaces with additional sound proofing, and multiple smaller spaces for ākonga to learn…huddle spaces, presentation spaces, raised levels etc.

There are large outdoor spaces which are covered which will be used for learning and each level has a ‘cook and create’ space for wet and messy learning.

Staff will be very strategic in planning how to use spaces to support and maximise learning. It’s likely that ākonga will learn in a range of spaces and situations each day.

Onehunga Primary School Learning Community - Level 2 & 3 

(architects drawings and photos of completed space)

-note The furniture represented in this image in the lighter grey colour is from architects drawings and may not be how our staff set up the spaces.

Each floor has a different colour theme, pictures included in this document are from different floors and show different colour ways.

How does the learning happen?

The learning will be similar to the learning that has been happening  in Term 1.

Ākonga will start and end the day with their whānau teacher. This is an important time for connecting and for staff to check on the wellbeing of ākonga.

Throughout the day just as they have this term, ākonga will be move between Learning Community teachers for their collaborative learning.

Learning Communities will also  spend time sharing lunch eating  together, reading together, participating in wellbeing activities together.

I’ve heard mixed stories about experiences with  flexible spaces in other schools

Great learning can occur in collaborative spaces and in single class spaces…not so great learning can occur in collaborative and single class spaces.

We have been working as a staff for several years on effective researched based approaches to teaching and learning to maximise opportunities for learning everywhere in our school.

In 2022 and again this year we have been working with an external consultant to build on professional learning from previous years. Neill (consultant) has experience in leading whole school change and collaborative learning.

Teachers professional learning has focused on strategies and approaches to maximise learning and specifically on strategies for ‘co-teaching’ (more than one teacher teaching in a learning space).

Who do I see or contact about my child?

Your child’s Whanau Teacher is the first port of call.

The whānau teacher  will advise you, and include any other teachers as needed.

This term we have had a strong focus on building relationships between whānau teachers and individual ākonga.

Will my child get lost, overlooked or forgotten? 

There will be a number of strategies in place already to make sure staff are conscious of the learning and wellbeing needs of all ākonga

The ratio of teachers and Learning Assistants to children remains the same as this term.

Each day will start with the whānau teacher and class meeting and connecting. Your child's whānau teacher will maintain a strong relationship with your child.

Staff in each learning community have plans in place (and in action already) where they meet regularly to talk about ākonga and learning, record information and observations and specifically check no child is overlooked.

My child has additional learning needs - how will this be catered for?

Staff will be planning to support the learning and needs of all ākonga

By planning collaboratively staff ensure that they are all aware of the learning and social needs of those students. 

Learning Communities have Learning Assistants to support students with additional needs.

Having a number of staff working collaboratively in a space means that if a child is distressed or upset there is flexibility for a staff member to support, while also ensuring other children are supervised and learning is continued.

Spaces within Learning Communities have been designed to create both large and small spaces. Staff will be planning to utlise these spaces for different learning.  

Will it be noisy?

The building has been designed with noise reduction in mind.

Learning communities will be reinforcing learning with a Respectful (R from We CARE) noise level.

There is always a ‘buzz’ when ākonga are engaged in learning.

The  break out rooms in the learning communities are designed for learning that is slightly louder. The outside covered deck space will be another area where learning that is a bit louder can occur

Floor and wall coverings are designed to reduce noise.

What is the teacher doing to support my child with changes?

We have been working towards this for years now. Staff are doing a range of things to support a positive move and develop a sense of belonging for ākonga.

As a school we have been working and learning collaboratively for a number of years now. Ākonga are already involved with moving to different spaces and learning with different children and adults.

Your child’s whānau teacher will continue to be a strong connection. Each day will start with the whānau teacher just like it does now.

Learning communities will be visiting their new learning spaces weekly from Week 7 of Term 1 2023. This will provide  a chance to answer questions, reassure and practice routines and expectations and movement.

We are recording questions and the things ākonga are excited about and responding to these.

Staff are talking regularly about the move and Term 2 learning spaces to individuals and classes, listening to questions and worries and responding to reassure and affirm.

We are feeling disconnected after Covid. What is planned to increase the home school connection?

Events for whānau to get involved in are gradually increasing and we have more planned in Term 2. 

A really easy way to find out more about what’s happening at school and get involved is SeeSaw. This means whānau who can not often come into school can still find out about learning and events.

We encourage whānau to keep up to date with information in the weekly school newsletters and shared by Learning Communities on SeeSaw.

Whānau are welcome to visit learning communities and rooms before and after school. It’s a great time to ask your child to show you their learning or around the room.

Whānau teachers are happy to arrange a time to meet if you want to talk about anything. You can contact them via Seesaw, by calling the office to arrange a time to meet or emailing them - email addresses are on our website.

 Is there anything we parents could be looking out for or doing to help?

Whānau already know what works to support their child with a change and we encourage you to use these approaches as we get closer to the end of Term 1.

We encourage you to talk to your child about what they are seeing and noticing, what they are looking forward to and any questions they have. We are putting together information on our website which may help with some answers.

Often questions will be about things like…where do I put my bag? where do I go at the start of the day? Over the rest of this term learning communities will be visiting the spaces  to answer these questions. We are also planning a day where whānau and children can visit the spaces before the first learning day of Term 2 to have a look around and reassure ākonga about where they go.

If your child has aspects which are really concerning them, please pass this on to your child’s whānau teacher so that you can work together to reassure and support your child as soon as possible.

Knowing our ākonga’s questions can also help us with planning to support all ākonga over the next few weeks.

Reinforcing our We CARE messages at home would also be a great help. We gave some examples in newsletters in Wk 7 and Wk 8 of Term 1 2023

How will moving up and down stairs work?

We have a number of strategies planned to keep safe and reduce congestion.

We will reinforce some simple messages for this - keep to the left, hands on rails, wait for a gap etc

We will have the opportunity to practice this before we move into the building.

We are planning to reduce congestion on stairs through slightly staggered movement. For example at the end of break times we will play a song rather than a bell. The idea will be that by the end of the song, ākonga and staff are in learning communities ready to learn. This means the movement is over 5 minutes.

What happens for an emergency evacuation?

We have had Harrison Thew - Emergency Management Consultants working with us to plan for this.

We will utilise both external and internal stairs.

While it’s new to us, multi level buildings for schools overseas and for businesses are common.

Each learning community will do a ‘slow’ emergency evacuation practice from the new building in Term 1. We will do a full school practice very early in Term 2 and a lock down practice in Term 2.

How will everyone stay safe from airborne diseases and Covid?

The building has been designed with ventilation in mind.

The learning communities have been designed to utilise good natural ventilation. Units have been installed which measure the temperature and air quality and alert staff open windows to if the CO2 levels get too high.

There are vents in the ceiling of each level which suck out air from the space and replace it with air from outside.

In the case of high numbers of positve covid cases we will follow the most up to date Ministry of Education and Health advice