Bohally Intermediate principal, Nicky Cameron-Dunn (Ngāi Tahu), has taught in Marlborough for 33 years and is excited to be involved with a project that will meet the needs of early adolescents in the district in a future-focused way.
“We will end up with something that is part of us, not something that is just given to us and that we’re moving into,” she says.
Nicky likes the concept of developing flexible learning spaces in the new school and explains why.
“I think there’s been a wave of designing around open plan, big multi-purpose rooms with lots of kids. The research I have done for this age group is that it isn’t ideal for all learners. I’m looking at a more flexible learning model – that you’ve got the ability to work in smaller groups and still have the ability to open up for collaboration when you need to.
“We know that our students at this age are trying to find new relationships with adults they can trust and having smaller groups with one teacher increases that relationship and trust model. I’m not against open plan, but not all of our students are self-managing and they’re even less so when they’re going through puberty. Putting them in an environment where they have to be self-managing can set them up for failure,” she says.
Currently, Bohally teachers work collaboratively in five hubs, or whare, each consisting of four classes. Nicky says this teaching and learning model will be taken to the new school with each whare having a unique identity.
“It’s the model of open plan learning, but we’re also allowing teachers to have those really strong connections with their homeroom,” she explains.
Unique and authentic
Te reo Māori and kapa haka have traditionally been a strength of the school, and Nicky is excited that this year a bilingual class will be re-introduced.
She is working closely with iwi and the ‘awesome’ Te Tumu design team to ensure that ākonga Māori see themselves in the new school.
“Iwi want their students to flourish – ultimately they will become future leaders not only of iwi corporations but globally also. We have that joint vision for ākonga Māori and high expectations for all our learners,” she says.
Nicky explains that Bohally is working closely with iwi on the project so that the new facility will have a unique and authentic identity.
“I would hate someone to pull up to our school and think that it could be anywhere in New Zealand. We want it to have a real connection to our landscape and local stories through the iwi, so it makes it a bit more grounded and special.”
The Marlborough Technology Centre has been in the grounds of Bohally since the 1990s and the purpose-built facility is much loved by staff and students. It’s likely it will be relocated.
“It is beautiful but there’s no reason that we can’t create something just as great on a new site. We just have to have an open mind that whatever we end up with will be great and future-proof us for another 30, 40, 50 years,” Nicky concludes.