School Curriculum


We aim to provide your child with a rich, broad and balanced curriculum. In addition, we work towards preparing pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life. We have high expectations and encourage our children to aim high in all areas of the curriculum, but particularly in literacy and numeracy. We believe effective teaching practice is of paramount importance to raising student achievement.

Our mission, values and targets can be seen in our School Charter at www.aokautereschool.net. We embrace our Maori culture and include traditions, stories and values throughout our learning. We have built a relationship with the Rangimarie Marae through our school visits.

The school’s core learning takes place during the morning sessions with sports, art and other activities taking place after lunch wherever possible.

The school follows the National Curriculum.

English (Literacy)

The school aims to provide a rich language environment in which pupils can learn to communicate effectively, read fluently - with pleasure and write accurately and purposefully. Above all, the school wants the children to appreciate and enjoy the rich variety of the English language.

Literacy Lessons take place every day in each class. This includes: Reading, Writing, Oral Language and Listening skills, Handwriting and Word Study – Spelling and vocabulary building and using thinking tools. Some of the work can be related to our Inquiry Learning topic.

We follow the National Curriculum and all the above skills are practiced during core learning time. We have criteria to describe key progressions in learning that we use to assess where the children are at and we look for ways to enhance their learning and to meet their needs. Children are encouraged to develop their understanding and appreciation of the written word, both fiction and non-fiction. Pupils use the skills learnt in Literacy in all the other curriculum areas.

You can support this enjoyment of language by reading to and with your child and grow their language by talking to them about characters in stories or in TV programmes, everyday happenings, current events and in new situations give them some interesting vocabulary and explanations. This helps them make sense of their world.

Don’t forget to be a role model for reading and writing: Let them see you write lists, send a postcard, sit and read a book, read a magazine or manual, look up information on google, use a dictionary, point out something in the newspaper and do some baking together, following a recipe. 

Mathematics (Numeracy)

Mathematics is part of our everyday lives. Children learn through play, problem solving and practice. We also aspire to have children successfully develop their maths skills and foster a positive attitude towards mathematics. The three strands of the NZ Curriculum for Mathematics and Statistics are covered each year, these being Number and Algebra, Geometry and Measurement and Statistics.

During the early stages Maths is a very practical activity based on the Number Framework. It is divided into two sections: Strategy and Knowledge. Strategy describes the mental processes students use to estimate answers and to solve operational problems with numbers. Knowledge describes the key items of knowledge that pupils need to learn.

Children will be counting, weighing, shopping, measuring, telling the time, problem solving with the appropriate apparatus and making sense of simple graphs. As children develop and begin to think in an abstract way they tackle more formal work but they still make use of practical activities to help in the full understanding of concepts.

Children learn individually, in groups and in whole class situations. The use of calculators and computers is encouraged when appropriate. The school hopes that parents will help children to learn about number by discussing where numbers are in their world and how we use number – matching the correct number of table settings to the number of diners, being one simple example and later on - multiplication tables by playing number games at home and continuing to encourage your children to use Maths in everyday life such as shopping, telephone numbers, cooking, building projects, card or board games etc. 

Inquiry Learning

Our aim is to help our children learn in context. Our integrated model revolves around a “big idea” that we use to capture their interest and imagination. An example of a Big Idea is ‘What makes a toy a good toy?’ The Social Sciences, Science, Technology and the Arts are integrated, as appropriate into the Term’s focus. This is planned jointly by teachers as a school-wide focus, but attuned to the needs and interests of the year level of the pupils or to cater for individual students.

We involve the pupils in their learning and some in-class discussions lead to the pupils making decisions about the topic along the way. This makes it meaningful to them and their learning engages their interest. A display area in the classroom is set aside for inquiry learning. This Wonder Wall records the pupils’ thinking, their questions and answers and some of the tasks they carried out during the inquiry. Knowledge is shared with others and we learn from working with different people.

The teacher will carry out specific and explicit teaching of skills and knowledge in order for the pupils to create their questions, research ideas, solve problems, use thinking tools, experiment and observe, form their explanations and justify these. We believe pupils need to be taught thinking skills in order to improve how they think and how they can solve problems

both independently and when working in a group. Having knowledge of thinking helps them to be able to use learnt strategies and make connections that will be useful throughout their life. If pupils understand how they learn, reflect on their work they will be able to set themselves new goals for learning. 

Science & Technology

The Science curriculum is carefully planned to ensure that every child has experience of, and a chance to work with Materials, Physical Properties and Life Processes. In addition, children are asked to plan, test and conclude upon their own hypotheses and find appropriate ways of recording their findings. In the younger years, science work is nature focused. As children progress through the school, the science work is inquiry learning based and we encourage pupils to make links with other subjects.

Technology covers investigations about design, creative uses of materials, trial and error, inventions, imaginative designs (-e.g. Who can create the tallest tower using 6 sheets of newspaper, sellotape and 6 paperclips?) It can be using a digital camera to photograph shapes around the school to show our junior students that shapes can be found around us – we just have to look out for them.

We need time to assess our success. Feedback from adults and peers, learning from working with others, seeing where improvements could have been made, what designs didn’t work or were weak, what we do well and what we have to learn all add to our knowledge about ourselves as learners and designers.

Social Sciences

Social Studies topics are co-operatively-planned to give children skills and the information in interesting and relevant ways through their inquiry learning and current events in class discussions. Thinking tools are used, specific skills taught –e.g. mapping skills for geography, using an index, using a search engine safely, how to answer a question, how to give an opinion and what is fact/what is opinion?

Both subjects lend themselves to local studies and the school has collected resources to help the children tackle studies of the local environment. Many of the school trips that are undertaken have an historic or geographical focus. 


At Aokautere School, children are introduced to a wide range of artistic techniques and skills including drawing, painting, printing, clay modelling, junk modelling and collage. They are also encouraged to develop an appreciation for the work of other artists and an understanding of why and how a piece was created. The school expects children to experiment with ideas and before completing a final piece. Childrens’ work is displayed in classrooms and in the Office area and can be shared in our School Assemblies. The work produced by the children needs to be viewed by others so we value these opportunities. 


The school has 20 Apple computers and over 30 iPads in regular use, these are used by the children for graphic design, reinforcing maths concepts and basic facts, research for inquiry learning, making presentations and films and date handling. We also send entries into the Manawatu Digi Awards – a competition for local schools. The school has a school network of laptops and other computers available in for each classroom. 

Te Reo Maori

We recognise the status of Te Reo Maori as the language of the Tangata Whenua. We acknowledge the partnership established by signing the Treaty of Waitangi and the values of the dual cultural heritage of Aotearoa. The language and culture are unique. Te Reo and Tikanga Maori signify Maori identity and is a valuable medium for learning. Each week we introduce a kupe o wiki – a word of the week. We learn its meaning and its use.

We have prepared a curriculum implementation plan for Te Reo Maori and Tikanga Maori and the values of our school are modelled and practiced through the learning of Te Reo Maori.

Manaakitanga – caring and respecting each other

Whanaungatanga – relationships
Hirangi – excellence
Ako – learn and teach each other

We have made a connection with the Rangimarie Marae and we take the whole school on visits there. We learn marae protocol and last time the boys learnt the haka while the girls learnt and performed a song using poi. 

Health, P.E. and Sport

The children are taught progressive skills in PE. The hall is well equipped with apparatus and the school has a wide variety of resources for indoor and outdoor activities. The emphasis is on learning skills and sportsmanship but the school also teaches creative P.E. and offers children Dance and Jump Jam as extra Activities. In our Junior Classes children are helped to develop co-ordination, balance and dexterity. As the children grow, they take on more advanced skills and begin to learn game rules and techniques.

We are lucky to have our own outdoor Swimming Pool. The children have a swimming lesson or swim time every day during the Summer Term. The Pool can be open before Christmas (depending on the weather) and we sell keys to the community and our school families so that they can use the pool through the holidays and outside of school hours. We don’t receive a lot of funding for our pool. Parent volunteers look after the pool maintenance and pool checks. Pool keys are sold for summertime use, to local families and this helps us cover the cost of its upkeep.

Health topics can be integrated into Inquiry Learning. Some of the topics we cover are Road Safety, Keeping Ourselves Safe, Food and Nutrition, Zero Waste, Plant to Plate, Friendships, Making Positive Choices, Exercise, How the Body Works, Fire and Earthquake Safety, etc.

Jump Jam: Our senior pupils have a chance to become a Jump Jam Leader. They go on to lead the school at the start of school each day during the winter term. Jump Jam is an exercise regime aimed at keeping children moving and motivating them for the day ahead. It’s fun and the children all seem to love this activity. 

Music and Performing Arts

Making music and singing is an important part of life at our school. Children take part in regular singing sessions where they learn practical skills. The children often sing at assembly as a whole school. The school can provide information about all the instrument lessons that are available in Palmerston North.

We have purchased some ukuleles and a group will learn to play these and teach others. We hope to showcase the group in future performances.

We aim to put on a major stage performance every two years and we vary the structure of these – School Productions involve all students experiencing stagecraft and parents, family and friends come along to these performances. We have also held a Talent Show, a Wearable Arts performance as well as the mini operetta-styled School Productions.

Dance: In recent times, we have entered Dance NZ-made at the Regent Theatre here in Palmerston North. This dance group was choreographed by Jayne Ashdown. 

Religious Instruction

Religious Instruction is optional and not part of the school day it is taught on a Friday morning from 8.45 until 9.15 am. R.I. usually commences part way through Term 1. You will be given early notice of the date R.I. lessons commence. 


Homework can play an important part in consolidating, supporting and reinforcing many of the skills taught at school. Homework usually involves the practice of already/nearly acquired skills. Each class teacher sets the homework suitable for their pupils and sends it home with the pupil.

Time spent on homework will vary according to age, as will the level of parental support/involvement. 

169 Fitzherbert Road East
Aokautere RD1
Palmerston North 4471
Tel: 06 3574611
Fax: 06 3574116
Email: office@aokautere.school.nz

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