Case study: Ilminster Intermediate School, Gisborne

Ilminster Intermediate is a large intermediate school in east Gisborne. Most of the students are Māori.

The school delivers learning programmes through a variety of ‘learning centres’ that deliver the curriculum through students’ areas of interest.  This approach effectively increases students’ engagement in learning. Senior management regularly survey the students and community about how well they think the school is serving their needs.

Planning and implementation

Leaders identified through the surveys that the learning centre that delivered the curriculum through a physical activity lens was not delivering a strong skills‑based programme. Teachers did not feel capable or confident to deliver high quality programmes. In response, the school employed a specialist PE/health teacher. He modelled lessons for teachers, and provided them with resources and guidance for their own teaching. They then had to teach the lessons, and he observed and gave feedback.

The lessons were skills based and had very clear objectives and skill development progressions. They were designed for the different needs of the students. The programmes were well planned and thought out, with many layers to support teaching and learning. The focus was on doing it right, not doing it in a hurry. The clear structure and support, with comprehensive professional learning and development, gradually built teacher confidence and capability.

Leaders’ and teachers’ actions

As teachers became more confident, they also became more involved and became role models for others. They set up a shared staff weight-loss commitment. They supported each other in their journey towards improved health – eating healthily and exercising together. Students saw their teachers improving their health, having fun and living the school values.

Values and vision

The culture of school became strongly focused on physical activity, health, and nutrition. All agreed, including students, that staff buy-in made a big difference in students’ attitudes to physical activity. Students talked about their increased confidence and willingness to participate in physical activity and education. They felt listened to and acknowledged. There are high levels of respect between students, staff and leadership in the school.

Internal evaluation

School leaders have developed a plan to phase out the specialist teacher’s input over three years as teachers become more capable.