Purpose built Specialist centre shares.

By NZAIMS inc | Posted: Sunday April 2, 2017

An insight into an innovative and creative environment for learners.

Several weeks ago we were fortunate enough to visit Bohally Intermediate in Blenheim representing the NZAIMS Executive.

During the day of our visit, the famous Blenheim sunshine was absent, but the warmth and generosity extended by the principal, Shane Campbell and Paul Sainsbury, DP the leader of Technology and his staff certainly made up for the less than temperate climate.

Of particular interest was the Technology Centre Bohally has operating. This Technology Hub caters for 920 students; 500 of those students attend 14 other school situated in the wider Marlborough area.

Through a very complex timetable, established in consultation with both the host and contributing schools, we observed a very innovative and exciting Technology programme.

Students were motivated through concepts such as Food Biology, Food Technology, Science, Hard Materials, Soft Materials, Robotics, Video Production and Electronics.

The programme is adaptive to the students’ needs with the Year 7 students experiencing skills- based programmes leading on to a more holistic programme in Year 8.

Paul Sainsbury, who leads the Technology Centre, explained that professional isolation is an issue in Marlborough. When initiating Teacher Inquiry and networking, they have relied on Canterbury University, attending courses in Sydney, Australia and members of their own team to spark learning conversations and looking at best practice.

We observed an initiative trialled by Peter Tilley, Technology teacher, where Year 8 students were set a problem then able to experiment with a number of technological machines/devices ( computers, 3D printers, sewing machines ) ultimately creating a solution for the given problem. Certainly, an innovative way to enhance future skills such as complex problem-solving.

The school and Technology team liaise closely with their secondary schools. The feedback to both acknowledges that Year 9 students are exceptionally well prepared when they transition through to the college Technology courses.

When feeding back/forward on student assessment, Mr Sainsbury admitted that this can be problematic. He explained reporting achievement information back to the host school wasn’t so onerous but when you have 14 other schools, each with a different School Management System, finding common ground was challenging. Currently, the Hub reports back using an Excel programme designed by the school. Mr Sainsbury commented, “A  MOE national database using a common SMS system would greatly help us in our feedback to schools”. I can concur with Mr Sainsbury’s comments, being lucky enough to report back on students who only attend our school; certainly not so complex and probably a luxury we take for granted coming from a larger urban area.

We were certainly impressed with the school’s facilities which definitely backed up by the student’s ability to articulate about their learning and progress. We would again like to thank Shane and his team for hosting us over the two days and acknowledge the strong Middle School culture and pedagogy they are creating.

Jonathon Tredray

Vice President NZAIMS

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