Our Learning

Through an inquiry model, Island Bay School endeavours to integrate all of the learning areas from the New Zealand Curriculum into their teaching and learning. Our curriculum document unpacks what our learning looks like in detail.

Click on the image to open the IBS Curriculum. 

IBS Local Curriculum

The New Zealand Curriculum is a clear statement of what we deem important in education. It takes as its starting point a vision of our young people as lifelong learners who are confident and creative, connected, and actively involved and includes a clear set of principles on which to base curriculum decision making. 

Our local curriculum is the way that we bring The New Zealand Curriculum to life at Island Bay School. This includes: 

  • being responsive to the needs, identity, language, culture, interests, strengths and aspirations of our ākonga and their whānau 
  • having a clear focus on what supports the progress of all ākonga 
  • integrating Te Tiriti o Waitangi into classroom learning 
  • helping learners engage with the knowledge, values, and competencies so they can go on and be confident and connected lifelong learners. 
The New Zealand Curriculum is currently being refreshed. You can read about Te Mātaiaho here.

From the New Zealand Curriculum:

In English, students study, use, and enjoy language and literature communicated orally, visually, or in writing.

In The Arts, students explore, refine, and communicate ideas as they connect thinking, imagination, senses, and feelings to create works and respond to the works of others.

In Health and Physical Education, students learn about their own well-being, and that of others and society, in health-related and movement contexts.

In Learning Languages, students learn to communicate in an additional language, develop their capacity to learn further languages and explore different worldviews in relation to their own.

In Mathematics and Statistics, students explore relationships in quantities, space, and data and learn to express these relationships in ways that help them to make sense of the world around them.

In Science, students explore how both the natural physical world and science itself work so that they can participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role.

In the Social Sciences, students explore how societies work and how they themselves can participate and take action as critical, informed, and responsible citizens.

In Technology, students learn to be innovative developers of products and systems and discerning consumers who will make a difference in the world.

Inquiry Learning

Our approach to learning at Island Bay School is primarily inquiry-based.  Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge.

Teachers facilitate students through our inquiry model to enable deeper thinking and understanding. 

Refer to Island Bay School Curriculum to further explore the Inquiry Model.





Active Citizenship

Developing Key Competencies through Dispositions.

Learning involves building knowledge, developing skills and competencies to use and apply that knowledge, and growing dispositions — the internal motivation to learn.

As learners reflect on their competencies and dispositions (through metacognition — thinking about thinking), they learn to understand how they learn best.

Whakawhanaungatanga – We encourage connected, cohesive relationships between each other and our communities. Educating our tamariki is a collaborative process. 

Empowered – We are engaged in and motivated by deep learning, using pedagogical approaches that enable students to take charge of their own learning (agency). 

Creative – We develop learners that are curious, creative and critical thinkers; they connect ideas together. 

Active citizenship – We challenge learners to engage with and respond meaningfully to local and global issues. 

Resilient – We have the ability to recover from or adjust to change. 

Empathetic – We build the capacity and ability to understand and share the feelings of others. We encourage learners to set aside assumptions about the world to gain insight into users and their needs. Empathy is about perspective-taking.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

An important part of our school curriculum involves the social activities of learning, which relies on the activation of prior knowledge and experiences for new learning to occur.

Recent developments in neuroscience and educational psychology have highlighted the relationship between emotion and cognition in learning, which means that attending to students’ social and emotional needs is not just important for their wellbeing but also a prerequisite for academic learning.

Social emotional learning (SEL) describes the mindsets, skills, attitudes, and feelings that help students to succeed in school but also in work and life. These include motivation, self-regulation, self-efficacy, growth mindset, grit, and social connection or sense of belonging at school. At Island  Bay school this is an important part of learning and development of all students.

Future Focus

When our children enter the workforce, they are likely to have more say about who they work for, how much they work, as well as where and when they work. 

The 2017 OECD ‘Future of work and skills’ report identified the challenges our children will face in their future which include –

Preparing young people for the jobs of the future by ensuring that they are equipped with the right type of skills to successfully navigate through an ever-changing, technology-rich work environment, and give all workers the opportunity to continuously maintain their skills, upskill and/or re-skill throughout their working lives. 

Island Bay School is conscious of the changes in education and sees these as exciting opportunities for our students. 

Through the explicit teaching of our school values, dispositions, and key competencies, our students are empowered to drive their learning, become problem finders, and inquire into the ‘why of learning’ whilst stumbling along the way.

Collaborative Learning Environments

Across the school, we have a range of learning environments that cater to children with diverse learning needs.  Teachers design learning collaboratively so that all students are taught by needs and personal learning goals, understanding that the “one size fits all approach” to teaching and learning falls short of good practice. 

Our hubs are made up of groups of children called Guardian Groups.  Each Guardian Group is connected with a teacher for pastoral care but will learn alongside all teachers in that learning space.

Break out spaces inside the hubs provide affordances for students to attend or teach small workshops, or practice learning independently. 

The Arts

Across our school we focus on learning in, through, and about the arts.  Stimulating creative action and response by engaging and connecting thinking, imagination, senses, and feelings. By participating in the arts, students’ personal well-being is enhanced.

As students express and interpret ideas within creative, aesthetic, and technological frameworks, their confidence to take risks is increased. Where possible we use specialist studies to enable students to contribute to our vision, abilities, and energies of the  arts initiatives and creative industries.

Junior and Senior Choir & Artsplash

Our Junior Choir is open to all Y0-2 students who wish to learn how to sing as a part of a group. Senior Choir is for students from Y3-6. 

Every year, Island Bay School participates in Artsplash where thousands of primary school students from around the Wellington region perform at the Michael Fowler Centre, accompanied by the Artsplash Festival Band, Chilton Amadeus Orchestra, Scots College Orchestra, and Wellington’s Sinfonietta Orchestra.


Our students learn various dance styles that are performed at the Michael Fowler Centre. Students choreograph and perform their own routines. Dancesplash combines many genres including hip-hop, creative, jazz, cultural and ballet. 

Visual Art and Art with Kristy

Through engaging in the visual arts, ākonga learn how to discern, participate in, and celebrate their own and others’ visual worlds. 

Visual arts learning begins with children’s curiosity and delight in their senses and stories and extends to the communication of complex ideas and concepts.  

Ākonga visit the art room once per term to work with our visual art specialist, Kristy Holly, during their kaiako non-contact classroom release time (CRT).

The artworks that ākonga create are displayed around the school and updated regularly on Kristy’s blog.

See what they’ve created at www.artwithkristy.com



Over their schooling at Island Bay School students take part in a range of art experiences including ceramic work, printmaking, painting, textiles and sculpture. Ākonga are introduced to a variety of artists and art movements, from both a local and international setting.


The Art Room is housed in the old dental clinic by the Clyde Street entrance to the school.


Forest School

Across our school students have the opportunity to attend Forest School at Paekawakawa Reserve through Freedom Friday or as part of their school programme. 

It aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, creative, collaborative, independent and confident learners.

Some of the activities include build huts, climb trees, hike and explore.


Philosophy for Children (P4C) is a worldwide democratic education movement that recognises that children are natural philosophers; P4C enables students to explore their wonderings about the world.

Classroom discussions are sparked by a philosophically rich picture book, picture, dilemma or question. Children are encouraged to share their questions and thoughts, then the group chooses a question to pursue that they agree will provoke a productive philosophical discussion.


By sharing perspectives, giving reasons for their opinions, listening, making connections, identifying misconceptions, and changing their minds if presented with stronger reasoning for an alternative perspective, children develop their philosophical skills and understanding.


Rather than seeking consensus, P4C aims to sharpen students’ thinking through learning from and building on each other’s thinking. Research has found that P4C develops students’ capacity for curiosity, collaboration, critical thinking, critical thinking, and empathy (Fisher, 2007), it builds learners’ cognitive intelligence (Topping & Trickey, 2007), and improves social relationships and reduces bullying in schools (Topping & Trickey, 2004).

Mātauranga Māori

Including Kapa Haka and extension Māori

Across all learning we tackle mātauranga Māori. Building on a wide expanse of knowledge and understanding. Building ‘Māori knowledge’ originating from Māori ancestors and  Māori world views, values and perspectives, Māori creativity, and cultural practices and recognition of the inter-related connectedness between all life forces, both those seen and unseen with the human eye.



We also offer the children an opportunity to join the school Kapa haka that runs every Friday from 12.15 -1 pm in the hall. Extension Maori is also offered for those interested at 11.30- 12.15 every Friday in the learning hub for the girls and in the hall for Boys.

Our girls will concentrate on waiata and poi making, and be learning Te Reo through games and resources.Our boys learn speech (whaikorero) and taiaha – long rakau sticks

Extra Curricular

Including Drama Club, Chess Club and Student Council

Drama Club

Drama club gives students an opportunity to participate in supervised creative dramatic activities which include performances in front of an audience. 

Ākonga will be exposed to different aspects of theatre including impromptu skits, monologues, blocking, playwriting, and prop selection.


Chess Club

Chess Club is held at 8am every Tuesday in the Learning Hub.

All tamariki are welcome to come along. Run by parent, Gavin Griffith-Jones and kaiako, Alishah Poston, children are encouraged to give chess a go.

Parent helpers are on hand to help children navigate games.

Student Council

The Student Council is a group of passionate young leaders who have been elected by their peers to represent them.

These year 5/6 students attend meetings to discuss ideas and ways to make Island Bay School a great place. They put these ideas into action and are brilliant role models for our younger tamariki.

The Student Council has organised and run 14 Poetry Cafes, run the school disco, organised Movin’ March, created video content during lockdown and more.

Physical Education

Each year, as a part of the Physical Education curriculum, different PE programmes are run during the school day for classes, such as Small Sticks hockey, Volleyball, Football, Basketball, Pedal Ready, Swimming etc. 

Information about these in-class programmes is communicated via the School App and newsletter. 

Sports Coordinator – Alishah Poston alishah@islandbay.school.nz

Annual PE curriculum events include:

School Events

  • Cross Country
  • Swimming Sports
  • Athletics

Inter-School Events

  • Southern and Interzone Cross Country (Years 4-6)
  • Southern and Interzone Swimming (Years 4-6)

Extra-Curricular School Organised Sports Opportunities

  • Basketball
  • Netball
  • Water Polo
  • Touch Rugby
  • Floorball

We also take part in sports based opportunities that arise annually such as tournaments and festivals organised across the region.

EOTC Week 
(Education Outside the Classroom)

Usually held in Term 4, EOTC Week is an opportunity to get involved with learning experiences we wouldn’t be able to offer inside the classroom.

For example, a day at forest school which allows kids to practice their innovation and resilience.

This week is a stepping stone towards camp in Years 5 & 6 and an opportunity to work with peers in different learning spaces.

Freedom Friday

Freedom Friday is a time on Friday afternoons where kids get choice over activities that interest them.  Teachers, Staff, and Parents from our community run an array of options for the kids to opt in to every term of the year.  Freedom Friday is a time where kids can have fun, try things they haven’t tried before, open themselves to new experiences, and cultivate the values of our school.

Some examples of Freedom Friday activities are:

  • Board Games 
  • Clay Making 
  • Photography
  • Chemistry for kids 
  • Dance 
  • Running Club
  • Lego
  • Forest School

Learning Support

Island Bay School has an expert Learning Support Coordinator (SENCO), Andrea Bailey, who leads and oversees the school’s provision of support for children with additional needs.

The SENCO leads the Learning Support committee, which meets every fortnight and deals with resourcing, support and referrals to agencies outside the school.

Teachers refer children to the committee who then coordinate and plan for support. This is strengths based and designed to meet individual needs.

Should you be concerned about your child’s learning or behaviour then talk to your child’s guardian group (GG) kaiako and ask whether it is appropriate to refer your child to the learning support committee.

Sustainability and Garden to Table

Island Bay School’s sustainability programme aims to teach children the science of sustainability. 

In the Garden to Table programme, children are taught about the food value of the vegetables we are growing and eating, and how the minerals, vitamins, fibre and protein content bolster our health and help protect us from disease.  

They also learn where the vegetables and fruit originate from. Tomatoes, pumpkin, kumara, corn etc came from South America originally and spinach from the Middle East – most likely Persia or modern day Iran.  We cover the basics behind why we organically grow all of our food and use only natural fertilisers such as blood and bone, dolomite, sheep and chicken pellets and compost how this ensures that the food we grow is healthier than that grown in a chemical environment.

We also look at how to control pests naturally, using nets and homemade organic sprays where possible.

We have also worked with Wellington City Council’s Waste Heroes Programme to deepen our practice and knowledge around waste management and sustainable practice for our homes and in our community.  

Contact Dianne Lee, our specialist Science and Sustainability teacher for more information.


Schools report to whānau for two key reasons. Firstly, schools report to whānau because whānau are key stakeholders in education. As such whānau expect meaningful information about their child’s progress and achievement in relation to learning entitlements set out in the New Zealand Curriculum

Secondly, schools report to whānau because whānau, families, whānau and the wider community have a valuable role to play in supporting their children’s learning at and beyond school. The ways schools report to whānau can motivate and encourage whānau to provide home learning environments that are associated with higher achievement. We report to whānau a year via Hero and then throughout the year using narrative assessment; Learning Stories, Learning Snapshot and via our Student Led Conferences.