At St Brendan's
The Special Character of a Catholic School permeates all areas of the school environment and it is the responsibility of the whole school community to safeguard and promote it.
The foundation and guiding principles for the way in which we teach the Religious Education Curriculum at St Brendan’s is through Catholic Social Teaching, a body of thought on social issues that has been developed by the Church over the past hundred years.
Religious Education in the classroom encompasses:
- Teaching and learning what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.
- Understanding and appreciating the ways the Catholic Church celebrates, lives and prays.
- Teaching children how to respond freely to God according to their gift of faith.
At St Brendan’s, Religious Education is integrated with all areas of the New Zealand Curriculum. Emphasis is given to Catholic Social Teaching. Our school-wide two-year overview:
“By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn.”
Highlights of opportunities to connect with our Parish and faith community during each school year include:
- Significant School Masses to start and finish the school year, Ash Wednesday and Assumption of Mary Masses, Saint Brendan’s Feast Day and All Saints or All Souls Day.
- Class Masses and Liturgies supported by our Parish Priest, Fr Tony.
- Liturgy for Grandparents and a Giving Gratitude Liturgy.
- Weekly St Vincent de Paul collections, Mufti Mania for Caritas and other fundraising.
- Connecting with local retirement villages and Silverstream’s Home of Compassion.
- Sacramental programme.
- Celebration of significant dates, including: Laudato Si’ Week, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Suzanne Aubert’s Birthday.
- Strengthening links with our neighbouring, and other, Catholic Primary Schools and Colleges.
Religious Education learning includes references to recent Papal encyclicals, experiences to nurture children’s spirituality, highlighting of children’s role in the mission of the Church, more intentional experiences to help children encounter God, learning strategies that enable children’s ‘voices’ to be heard, experiences that encourage children to recognise and respond to their personal call to holiness and integrate the key competencies more intentionally into RE concepts.
Across the school we endeavor to integrate all of the learning areas from the New Zealand Curriculum: English, the Arts, Health & Physical Education, Learning Languages, Mathematics & Statistics, Science, Social Sciences and Technology. Our teaching team designs learning collaboratively so that all students are taught by needs and personal learning goals.
Our learning, in particular our Health and Physical Education Curriculum, fits with the framework of Hauora (wellbeing) and Te Whare Tapa Wha model. The model describes health and wellbeing as a wharenui/meeting house with four walls. These walls represent taha wairua/spiritual wellbeing, taha hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing, taha tinana/physical wellbeing and taha whānau/family and social wellbeing. Our connection with the whenua/land forms the foundation.
Celebrating our Community
We are blessed that our St Brendan’s curriculum is richly supported by a range of people and opportunities.
Matua Whaitiri leads our St Brendan’s Kapa Haka and prepares our students to participate in local cultural festivals. Michael Stebbings leads our St Brendan’s Choir and school singing. Students have the opportunity to perform with combined school choirs and kapa haka groups, in our local area and at school events. Ti Tufue leads our St Brendan’s Samoan group and Samoan language and culture learning throughout our school. Students also have the opportunity to participate in He Toa Taiohi, a confidence and leadership programme delivered through culture and identity. Te Reo and Tikanga Maori is woven through our local curriculum. Students have other language and culture learning opportunities, including the support of a Mandarin Learning Assistant. Our St Brendan’s student leaders organise annual cultural events which acknowledges the many cultures represented across our school community.
We plan events to draw our community together. In 2019 we held a Cultural Identity Hui and this year we are looking forward to our Arts Celebration. At the end of the year our celebrations include a Christmas Cushion Concert, a Leavers’ Function, a Leavers’ Assembly and Special Mass.
Reporting to Families
At the beginning of each school year we welcome you to Family-Teacher Conversations. These are a wonderful opportunity to meet the teachers and discuss your child/ren’s learning style and interests. They provide time to discuss your child/ren’s strengths (academic, sporting, social and interests), areas of challenge, learning style/s and hobbies. Later in the year we invite you to 3-Way Family–Teacher Learning Conversations. The format of these is to meet and discuss your child/ren’s learning journey and goals. Students take an active part in these conversations. Bookings are made available online via: www.schoolinterviews.co.nz by entering a unique school code for each event.
Three Way Learning Conversations:
- help students demonstrate evidence of learning;
- support students with the process of reflection and self-evaluation;
- facilitate the development of students’ organizational and communication skills;
- increase student self-confidence;
- develop student responsibility for their own learning;
- provide a forum for students, families and teacher to engage in open dialogue.
Currently we continue to provide families with written reports twice a year. These include progress and achievement information as well as student self-reflection.
We hold an annual Open Afternoon for our teaching teams to share with you the details of our local St Brendan’s curriculum at each level of our school.
Seesaw is a narrative form of assessment that empowers students to independently document what they are learning at school. Students can share snapshots of their learning using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs and links. Seesaw creates a powerful learning loop between students, teachers and families.
PB4L – Positive Behaviour for Learning
St Brendan’s is a PB4L school. The Positive Behaviour for Learning School-Wide framework supports our school to build a culture where positive behavior and learning is a way of life. The framework is tailored to our school’s unique environment and charism. The focus of PB4L is on changing the environment, systems and practices to support students to make positive behavior choices. Our behaviour management system places accountability on our students and assists them in identifying positive steps for moving forward. PB4L Restorative Practice supports our school to build positive, respectful relationships across our whole school community using a relational approach.
Enviroschools is a nationwide environmental action based programme. Schools commit to a long-term sustainability journey, where students connect with and explore the environment, then plan, design and take action in their local places in collaboration with their communities. The Enviroschools kaupapa is about creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and taking action together.
St Brendan’s is an Enviroschool. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
In his letter, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis implores us to work together to create a better world for future generations and asks us to make the necessary changes in our lives in order to take care of, respect and value our ‘common home’. Families are encouraged to pack waste free lunch boxes. Our students are supported to be active with inquiries and participate in several Enviro groups.
All families must read and sign a Home/School internet agreement. Across the school annual cyber-safety units are taught, as well as refreshers and reminders given regularly.
Bring Your Own Device – BYOD
Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to students bringing a personally owned device to school for the purpose of learning. A personally owned device is ‘any’ technology brought into the school and owned by a student (or student’s family). From Year 3 students are encouraged to bring a chrome book to school for daily use as part of our learning programmes.
Research continues to show that use of digital technology improves motivation and engagement, develops independence and improves critical thinking. Learning can be personalised, students gain greater access to information and resources, and there are more opportunities for collaboration in wider contexts.
As a school we continue to find ways to integrate digital technologies into teaching and learning and BYOD assists us to enable anytime, anywhere access to enhance teaching, learning, collaboration and communication.
Our terrific teaching team is dedicated to supporting your child/ren’s learning each day of the school year. Outside of school we encourage students to read daily and connect with authentic learning experiences that link with current school learning. Across our school, families can connect with learning via Seesaw. Adventurers and Navigators can continue with and/or showcase their learning at home via Google Drive and/or Hapara. Students also have access to Mathletics.
Families are encouraged to support their child/ren’s Faith journey with daily prayer, attending Mass and connecting with our Parish.
Our St Brendan’s students are blessed with a wide range of opportunities. From Kapa Haka, to Choir and our Samoan Group. School sports teams include Basketball, Floorball, Flippaball, Netball and Touch Rugby. We accept invitations to a variety of sports tournaments. We belong to both the Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt Sports Associations. We prepare students for and have teams participate in the local STEMM Challenge and EPRO8 Tournament.
St Brendan’s values Education Outside the Classroom, E.O.T.C. as a way to enhance student learning. We regularly draw on local knowledge and resources, from Silverstream’s Home of Compassion to Expressions and the Hutt River – faith, culture and the natural environment. Annually we plan a school-wide week of E.O.T.C. and our Navigator students enjoy a biennial camp experience in the South Island.
Our students have the opportunity to be of service in the community, often this is the culmination of inquiry learning in action.
Our Year 7 and 8 students lead our House groups – Galway, Annagh, Tralee and Clonard. Each House group is represented through committee groups including The Arts, Cultural, Enviro, Sport and Pastoral Care. These dedicated committee members organise events including lunchtime activities, fundraising and dedicated House activities.
Optional paid opportunities at school include Good Time Music lessons and tennis/table tennis sessions with Gary Nelson.