Our Learning

Our Learning


Our teaching and learning programme is based on the NZ National Curriculum Framework, which is laid down by the Ministry of Education.  We interpret and develop our delivery of the curriculum, appropriate to the learning needs of our children. Our teachers are committed to keeping up to date with current educational practice.

When referring to a student it is about the student’s knowledge and capacity:

  • to act and make a difference
  • to have choices and the ability to act on those choices
  • to direct learning and take responsibility for their own learning
  • to empower self learning
  • to contribute to the learning of others and how their learning community operates
  • understanding the process of how they learn and how to unlearn

Our Learning

At Witherlea, we believe in a broad curriculum based on using local experts and community experiences. Students learn in and out of the classroom and the Graduate Profile for our students comes from the colocated colleges’ wider community consultation in 2017.

After our own consultation in 2018, along with our new Vision, we adopted these six aspirations for our learners as they travel through each team at Witherlea on their individual learning journey.

Global identity: Tuakiri – Our students explore who they are, their heritage and develop cultural awareness on a local and global scale.

Sustainability: Kaitiakitanga – Our students explore and start to understand and apply sustainable approaches.

Creativity and Innovation: Auahatanga – Our students explore creative & innovative thinking to their learning, building the foundation for future problem-solving.

Personal Management: Rangatiratanga – Our students build capacities for resilience, tenacity, adaptability and confidence to succeed in anything they set out to achieve.

Effective Relationships: Whakawhanaungatanga – Through collaborative learning approaches, our students explore and build relationships that help them to learn and achieve together.

Student-Centred Learning: Ako Arotahinga – Creating personalised learning environments where students are inspired and supported to be the best they can be.

Support Programmes

Extra support in the classroom for some students is essential so Witherlea School tries to provide, outside of Ministry funding, teacher aides. This is heavily dependent on the financial situation each year and the impact of needs within the school.

While this is vital to the success of ALL students and we are lucky to have highly capable and trained support staff the donation at the beginning of the year and fundraising goes towards funding this resource in our classrooms.

We have several support programmes for children who need extra. These programmes take place during classroom hours. They may include; Reading Recovery, Haumaru (Room 19 – Wellbeing Space), pastoral care targeted funding and in-class support for behaviour, social skills, literacy, mathematics and learning to learn capabilities.

The Diverse Learners Team is led by Phil Funnell our Deputy Principal, and the team consists of Maree Herdman our SENCO (Special Needs Coordinator) and the principal. This team looks at all the needs across the school, applies for funding, coordinates Haumaru, the teacher aide team and timetables and liaises with agencies and whānau and families. This team is designed to support our community and our learners to access the curriculum and reach their potential. 

Digital Technology

All children complete a cyber safety form when they enrol at Witherlea as we believe in Digital Citizenship; how we behave online is more important than actually being online.

We are a GAFE School: Google Apps for Education and our network is provided and supported by N4L; Network for Learning. This enables them to act as a watchdog entity and provide ongoing digital support. All students from Year 3-6 have ‘google accounts’ and access to a range of software and research media. We have approved site access for pupils to the Internet and we pay for and run Hapara which enables teachers to see everything that children are accessing and sending (even deleted items) while online at school and home, if using their school google account.

Year 3-6 are digitally enhanced and have 1-2 device opportunities. In 2020 the Digital Technologies Curriculum rolled out across New Zealand. Witherlea School has prepared for this by reviewing their Digital Technologies Delivery Plan and philosophy for teaching, securing two years of Professional Learning and Development via 3M Learning (Martin Hughes) and the purchasing of robotics and coding equipment. This is a target area for our whole school.


All pupils take part in Physical Education and sporting activities.  Involvement in Phys. Ed. during school time is compulsory. All children at Witherlea have Fundamentals in Term Two which includes Water Safety and swimming and is held at the Stadium 2000 complex. All students are bused to and from each day (this is in our activity fee section).

We hold have an aquatics programme Term One and Four at school, Cross Country and Athletics where our Year 5-6 students are selected for the Inter-school Competitions. We also participate in the annual Marlborough Tournaments; cricket, rugby sevens, rippa, hockey and football.

We operate a range of sports teams where students can represent Witherlea School, all families can access and register for these via our Sports Hub;

  • Rippa Rugby
  • Volleyball
  • Tennis
  • Flipper Ball
  • Hockey (Summer and Winter)
  • Basketball
  • Netball
  • Touch Rugby

Following the registration for the above sports many codes now require a New Zealand Sport registration via SPORTY Player and registration as a Coach/Volunteer via this SPORTY link

Clubs organise their own teams for other sports codes, such as; athletics, rugby, cricket and soccer.

Mr Dan Stephens is our Sports Coordinator and can be contacted via email; dans@witherlea.school.nz


In the swimming season, all children take part in aquatics unless excused by a note from you. Named clothing is essential, and independence in changing is appreciated. The pool is filtered and maintained in top condition throughout the summer in Term One and Term Four.

PLEASE REMEMBER that even when the weather is cool, the teacher will make a decision if there is swimming or not, so swimming gear should be sent along EVERY DAY.

Swimming and Swim Safe is part of Fundamental Skills held at the Stadium 2000 complex held in Term Two.

EOTC:Education Outside The Classroom

We have a policy of involving the students in Outdoor Education and the Blanket Consent Form is filled out on enrolment which allows student participation in all low risk, local activities and sporting events / practices.

Our Year 4-6 students begin the stayover version of EOTC through Camps; Year 4 students use Pine Valley, Year 5 students use Mistletoe Bay and our Year 6 students use Bridge Valley or Lake Rotoiti. 

All other year groups take day adventures around our local community including White’s Bay, local Kindergarten, Harling Park, ASB Theatre, Stadium 2000, and Pollard Park to name a few.

Te Ao Maoriand Kapa Haka

We are very proud of our Kapa Haka groups and the development in the last couple of years which has seen it grow. They practise every fortnight on a Tuesday from 2pm – 3pm in Term One and Four and every Tuesday in Term Two and Three as they get performance ready for various functions like; Whānau Open Days, Marae Visits and Taiopenga. They are separated into three sections called Kākano; Seeds (Year 1), Pihinga; Shoots (Year 2-4) and Puawai; Blossoms (Year 5-6), under the capable guidance of our Te Ao Leader; Ariana McIntyre, our Te Ao Team which are teachers from across the school and Kuia Merehira who is a consultant to schools in Marlborough.

Teachers from across the school form this group. Students of all ages are encouraged to join and celebrate their; identity, language and culture and or students with a passion or interest on culture and the Arts. While Kapa Haka is on, all teachers in the classrooms have a programme focused on; Te Ao which focuses on New Zealand Māori identity, language and culture or other cultures from around the world.

The whole school takes part in Mihi Whakatau which is the practice / procedure of welcoming guests, new staff or important people to our school. We use part of our learning at our in school SPJ Assemblies (Singing, Performance and Jump Jam) to learn new songs and the kaupapa of this practice at Witherlea. We know it is important for all staff and students to understand and value the unique culture of New Zealand and Tiriti o Waitangi.

We use our Kapa Haka tamatane and tamahine in our Flag Raising Hui each Monday morning to perform the Karanga and Haka section of our National Anthem and welcome new students to school. This provides them with further and ongoing performance opportunities. We use this hui to develop our knowledge of other cultural groups across the school using our diverse range of native languages. It is also a time to share karakia, progress and achievement. All community members are welcome to our Flag Raising Hui.

The Arts Curriuclum

At Witherlea School the pupils take part in the cultural aspects of education.  Art, music, dance, drama and public speaking are an important part of the school programme, and we have an active participation in these fields.  Our school has had considerable success in the cultural subjects, just as it has in its sporting activities.


Naomi Anderson is our Arts Coordinator and while Choir practices are on fortnightly on a Tuesday afternoon for Term One/Term Four and every Monday in Term Two-Three, all other children across the school are learning in the disciplines of; drama, dance including Jump Jam, Visual Art and Music.

Every three years the whole school uses the Arts Afternoon to be ‘stage ready’ for the Annual Dance Festival held at the Stadium 2000 (2022 is our next performance year).

As students move up through our school, we encourage them to take on greater responsibilities and we have developed our own unique Arts Leadership Roles at Witherlea. 2021 has seen the creation of an Events and COMs Team which has an opportunity to lead the assemblies with support from PJ Muir. Our Jump Jam Leaders from Year 4-6 who support the classes across the school to learn and participate through the guidance of Richelle Henderson. Our WitherLeads Team of Year 6 students who organise, run and present at key events throughout the year under the guidance of Ms Harnett


Naomi Anderson leads our wonderful choir.  They practise for school performances and special functions.  Choir practice is 2pm – 3pm fortnightly on Tuesday in Term One/Four and every Monday in Term Two and Three during Arts Afternoon. These students are aged Year 4-6 and they have; the Whānau Open Days, Music Festival, assemblies and school events to perform at.


Drama is taught through outside providers as an essential Extra Curricula opportunity with Rose from StageLab who is a Drama Specialists. This is at a cost of $10 per student for the entire year and focuses on developing key skills for regulating behaviour, increased sense of wellbeing and key performance skills.

Student Leadership

As students move up through our school and into the Kowhai and Kauri Teams, we encourage them to take on greater responsibilities and leadership roles. Year five and six students are appointed to carry out specific tasks to help around our school. These include; librarians, Enviro Team, dishes, messengers, hall seating, Wet Day Monitors, Jump Jam leaders, PE Shed Monitors, the Events and COMs Team and the Techie Team. This is part of our rich participating and contributing culture we have developed at Witherlea School.

Our Year 5-6 teachers, teachers from across the school, Ms Harnett and Mr Funnel support the Student Leadership Positions at Witherlea School where Year 5-6 students are explicitly taught the fundamentals of role modelling and leadership. We offer opportunities and training in the areas of; Road Patrol, Peer Mentoring, Medical Monitors, Enviro Team, Wet Play Monitoring, and the Events and Communications Team.


Year 5-6 students, led by Mrs PJ Muir are given guidance on public speaking. Students are given opportunities to speak and build confidence leading; Flag Raising, Assembly, Charity Days, Open Days and large events.


Every year a new team of trained PALs are upskilled to deliver sport and games in the playground at lunch time for students who want to join in.


If your child tells you they have problems during these times, please encourage them to go to the Recharge Station for guidance and/or assistance. Major problems are dealt with by Duty Teachers all times and also the classroom teachers.


Ms Harnett works with this group of selected Year 6 students as they learn about the fundamentals of leadership, learn to organise, run and present at events. These students learn to work together and to support other students at school as they are true role models.


Our Year 6 students become eligible for Road Patrol which is a trained job through NZ Police. Students who are in Year 5 in Term 4 will be asked to take home a letter which then leads to the training. After the training students will be selected for Road Patrol and need to commit for the school year at least one week per year on either the Weld Street or Wither Road Patrols. This job is for students who can turn up on time and have the confidence to control the traffic.

We are always in need of parent supervisors for the morning as the students cannot run Kea Crossings on their own.


The students who fulfil these positions are highly organised and reliable and work within the Library at lunchtimes being mentored by Mrs Graham and Mrs Herdman.


The students have a love for the environment, hard work and making a change in this world. They are responsible for; Worm Farm, Compost, Forest, Rubbish and Recycling and are mentored by Mr Robertson. There are many occasions that they work directly with MDC and Anna Crowe our EnviroSchools Facilitator.

Parent Help & Volunteers

A large group of parents are involved in a variety of ways in helping our school.  We welcome assistance from parents / caregivers and other community members in such activities as:

  •     In-class assistance (early words programme, reading to and with students)
  •     Kapa Haka; guitar, unifroms, actions and waiata learning
  •     Outdoor education – camps
  •     School trips
  •     Managing or coaching sports teams
  •     Making classroom equipment
  •     Before and After School Road Patrol
  •     Music teaching – or any other area of expertise you may have

If you have time to spare and would like to be involved please contact a team leader. From time to time other people work in the school for a variety of reasons including University College of Education students, Public Health Nurse, Police, Secondary School students and outside experts. We require visitors to our school to sign the visitors’ book at the office upon arrival and all volunteers need to be Police Vetted.

Other ways to support are through our strong Parent Group Committee which is our WSPCG.

Intermediate School

Witherlea School ‘in zone’ students feed into Bohally Intermediate and we run a transition programme through Phil Funnell (Deputy Principal) and Hazel Halton (Assistant Principal: Senior School). Some students require more transitioning than others and we have strong relationships with our colleagues so our children are supported.

As of February 2020, Bohally School will adopt a ‘Home Zone’. It will be important for parents and caregivers to make contact with Bohally, if they are outside of the Witherlea School Zone to check their status. Bohally will run a ballot system for students who are outside their ‘Home Zone’.

Home Learning

Witherlea School does not support the handing out of worksheets and busy time filling activities for homework. We do believe that practicing some essential skills like; reading, spelling and basic fact knowledge which can reinforce learning from school however this should be an enjoyable time for parents and students.

We also encourage our kids to get on with playing and learning through doing…they have had a full day of focussed work at school. Many students can access learning through class Seesaw, Online Learning sites and websites, Google Classroom (Year 3-6) and continue learning and inquiry from home.

Learning that you may expect throughout the school, set up between the teacher and home could include;

  • Reading mileage / practice (especially in the junior school)
  • Phonics / sight words
  • Essential spelling lists
  • Basic facts
  • Mathematics games
  • Writing mileage
  • Inquiry preparation and/or items for school
  • Leadership Tasks (Year 5-6 students)

Other options for Home Learning are; reading library books that your child brings home, cooking or playing games together, board games, team sport, music or drama lessons, Scouts, Girl Guides or just the old fashioned notion of ‘getting outside and having some fun.’

If you are really intent on further practice then there are a number of workbooks that you can purchase in bookshops. Remember our children have already put in a full day’s work before they get home to you.