Trinity College introduced a new junior school programme in 2021, based on evidence from research about learning in adolescence. This outlines that Year 9 pupils have more in common, academically and socially, with Year 8 students than those in Year 10. This led us to develop the Year 7 – 9 Te Tīmataka programme to enhance student engagement and academic improvement.
Below is an outline of the programme for these year levels. Students develop foundational skills and capabilities to enable them to be well prepared for Year 10 and above. The vision of Trinity College, to promote excellence in learning and teaching and pastoral care for the Catholic community of Dunedin, is our focus.
Te Tīmatanga - The beginning
We are driven by the following Whakataukī:
He tina ki runga, he tāmore ki raro
In order to flourish above, one must be firmly rooted below
WHY are we doing this?
We are growing learners who are engaged in authentic learning so that they develop foundational capabilities for their future.
We know that strong relationships between students and teachers create fertile ground for excellence in learning. Therefore, alongside the time spent in integrated studies and option classes, students also have a whānau group to ensure that staff from Tīmataka get to know the students well over their time in Years 7 - 9. These are vertical whanau groups comprising Year 7 – 9 students, which have members of the same family and house groups. The intention is that a Year 7 student has the same Whānau teacher (Kaiako Kumanu) for three years. The groups are named after 12 native trees.
Each year group has a Dean and there is a Dean who oversees and supports all Deans and students in Years 7 - 9.
Year 7 students are introduced to the school using a Peer Support programme which is led by our Year 13 students. Many of these students also get involved in the Buddies programme which develops relationships with our Year 12 students. We believe these are valuable experiences for all students and our Year 7 pupils enjoy the many positive interactions with prefects and head students.
Each student will have their curriculum learning with other students of the same year. A student will spend 16 hours a week with their curriculum teacher (Kaiako Wānanga). Some Year 9 classes have two Kaiako Wānanga covering eight hours each.
Learning areas to be covered in this timeslot are Religious Education, English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Health and Science.
All students will also have:
5 hours a fortnight for two chosen options per semester (two terms), so four options in each year. Information on the option subjects is found on this page.
2 hours per week for Physical Education
2 hours per week for the Nature of Science
Our Years 7 - 9 programme is an integrated curriculum model. This means that we have a themed focus for around eight weeks, centred around a topical, current issue in our society. Our subject areas feed into this issue and learning in Mathematics, English, Science, Social Sciences, Religious Education and Health will have a real-world context. We are removing the scheduled times for subjects and replacing them with large blocks of time (2-4 hours at a time) with their curriculum teacher where they will be able to engage in activities which cover a range of the curriculum areas. Their learning groups will have students of the same year level - that is, if your child is in Year 7, then all the students in their learning group will also be in Year 7. Each Year level has four overarching themes within a year.
An example of what this could look like is looking at recent natural disasters within New Zealand. Some of the curriculum covered includes the study of the structure of the earth and how flooding and erosion impacts our earth (science and geography), the probability of events such as these happening, data about damage, intensity, recovery (measurement and statistics), the stability of different shapes and structures, how angles affect this (geometry), and navigating around New Zealand using directions and coordinates (geometry). Also, within this topic we learn about how the Early Church coped with disaster and adversity, what organisations are available to help recovery and resilience today (religious education). We study the cause and effects of climatic events (social inquiry) and how elements of hauora can be affected, but also used to help us survive and thrive (health). The history of Aotearoa New Zealand and the purakau of Rāuamoko and geothermal energy are also interweaved throughout (history and Mātauranga Māori). The various skills of literacy and the English curriculum are embedded in everything we do.
As well as being a more engaging and connected curriculum, we focus on monitoring and tracking assessment far more closely and, with having one teacher covering six learning areas, we believe this will be able to be done at a much higher level. With classes having their integrated studies at the same times, it means we have more freedom to provide further teaching for those needing extension but also for those where there are gaps and extra support could be needed.
We designed this model for a range of reasons, including to lift the engagement and achievement of what we are already providing for our Year 7 - 9 students. This is to enhance, not “water down” content or achievement. Students can develop more depth of understanding by being flexible with the amount of time in various curriculum areas. This can mean that some weeks may be more heavily focused in science and others in mathematics. Practical and engaging tasks that cross over traditional period times allow for this depth. We have also identified that while we are implementing an integrated model, there will be times when we will need to enter the ‘Maths World’ or the ‘Literacy World’ to ensure we are still covering content even when it doesn’t fit in with our term's theme. We feel strongly that this programme is aimed to lift our current student achievement.
There are also many extra-curricular activities within the school that students in Years 7-9 can participate in. These include sports exchanges with Taieri College and Mt Aspiring College, Balmacewen Intermediate and participation in the Koru Games. Trinity is also rich in cultural experiences, including the annual school musical, enviro club, kapa haka, instrumental music lessons, jazz band, student council, various lunchtime and after school clubs - and more. Year 7 students have an overnight camp in Term 1 and Year 8 students go on a four day camp in Term 4.